The Grand Forks County sheriff's department is expanding its unmanned aircraft operations to include night flights.
The department has flown six daytime missions since getting FAA approval earlier this year. Now the FAA says the department can train for after-dark missions.
"Because a lot of serious law enforcement incidents occur at night, it will allow us to go out and work those missions," said program manager Alan Frazier.
Before the drones can fly actual missions, there will be a lot of practice flights at night.
"We're in to somewhat uncharted waters here -- the FAA recognizes that. That's why they encouraged us to start with a training authorization," Frazier said. "We have a very limited area that we'll be flying in rural Grand Forks County."
Frazier says the biggest challenge will be learning to avoid trees and other obstacles at night. He says the Grand Forks sheriff's department is only the second agency in the nation authorized by the FAA to fly the small unmanned aircraft at night.