Miami-Dade police department in Florida is to test Honeywell's ducted-fan Micro Air Vehicle early next year under one of two technology demonstrations sanctioned by the US Federal Aviation Administration. The vertical take-off and landing UAV will be used during SWAT team operations.

Houston police department in Texas, meanwhile, has completed a demonstration flight using an Insitu ScanEagle fixed-wing UAV. The test was conducted under an FAA certificate of authorisation that limited the flight to within a 3.2km (2 mile) radius and below 1,000ft (300m) altitude.

The flight was conducted in a remote area west of Houston and the aircraft was under visual and ground radar contact at all times, while the UAV's transponder was tracked by Houston air traffic control.

While there may be additional demonstration flights, Insitu says there will be no operational deployment by the police until regulations are developed to ensure safe integration of UAVs in the airspace.