By Ian Bush

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia is looking to take drone flight to new heights.

The city is vying to be one of a handful the feds will allow to take a leadership role on drone research and development, leading eventually to this:

“Package delivery is on its way. Medical supply delivery, I think, is another valuable tool,” said David Yoel, CEO of American Aerospace Technologies.

Besides convenience, Yoel says drones also can be lifesavers in disasters and other emergencies, and when it comes to risky jobs.

“Doing routine inspections of critical infrastructure, electric transmission towers, cell towers, buildings, industrial facilities. Last year, 80 people died doing cell tower inspections across the US,” Yoel said.

“We’ve been working on a truck network and delivery management program for the city,” said Gus Scheerbaum with the Streets Department.

He envisions drones helping to relieve traffic congestion.

The FAA is expected to name the winning applicants later this spring; they’ll be among the first to work expanding the use of drones, integrating “unmanned aircraft systems” into the National Airspace System, and into communities.

“We can both encourage the technology development while also operating safely and addressing issues like privacy and other concerns of the public.”

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