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Amazon's angle clearly relates to package deliveries, with a 2016 United Kingdom experiment resulting in a delivery time of just 13 minutes between hitting the one-click order button and the package being dropped off. Other winners of the contract include ride services company Uber, micro chip maker Intel, delivery company FedEx, and others. The applicants listed companies they would partner with in the experiments, and the winners may have a head start at the billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs the young industry expects to create.

Asked why the Transportation Department had not selected Amazon or DJI, Deputy Transportation Secretary Jeff Rosen told Reuters that the projects had gone through a rigorous review process. Winners include projects focused on package delivery, environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, pipeline oversight and integrating drones near airports, the USA official said.

Sen. Jerry Moran noted the Sunflower State was the first in the nation to have Unmanned Traffic Management in place for all state agencies, airports, and institutes of higher education and says this new pilot program "will allow Kansas to build upon our momentum and unlock the incredible economic potential this technology can have for our country".

"This gives it the ability to move into any geography in the United States and move out of test mode into full operation", said Mark Siegel, a partner at Menlo Ventures, an investor in Flirtey.

The unmanned aircraft industry has pushed for relaxed restrictions, and the Trump administration has said current regulations have limited drone use, forcing companies to test overseas.

Nevada also submitted a statewide application that included dozens of partners from Nevada-grown companies and Fortune 50 corporations.

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"We're focused on developing a safe operating model for drones in the airspace and we will continue our work to make this a reality", said Brian Huseman, Amazon's vice president of public policy.

Intel CEO Brian Krzanich holds up a new Yuneec Typhoon H drone.

Flirtey pioneered the first FAA-approved fully autonomous drone delivery in an urban environment on March 25, 2015 in Hawthorne.

"We need flying burgers", Chief Executive Officer Dara Khosrowshahi joked at a conference.

The wide interest shown by tech firms highlights their desires to win authority to operate drones for everything from package delivery to crop inspection. Another partner is General Electric Co, he said.

"Kansas is once again leading the way on the national and global stage", he said.