The congressionally mandated process is set to integrate drones into the country's air traffic system by 2015, and will involve setting safety standards, training and certifying pilots and developing collision avoidance systems.
The six teams were chosen out of 25 proposals received by the FAA. The University of Alaska plans to test drones across sites with diverse climatic conditions including Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska, while the state of Nevada will look into operator standards and certification requirements.
Texas A&M University will develop safety systems for drones, and Virginia Tech and Virginia Polytechnic Institute will conduct drone failure tests and evaluate operational and technical risks.
The FAA aims to phase in all these developments by 2015 based on type of drone, type of airspace or some other factor. Research will continue until 2017.
The teams are bound by privacy requirements put in place by the FAA and they will be required to tell the FAA how they plan to publish the data and how long they will retain this information.