NEW BRUNSWICK - New Jersey’s Rutgers University will join Virginia Tech and University of Maryland to work collaboratively on the development of test sites for drones.

The schools were among five others named Monday by federal officials as research sites offering diverse climates, geographic features and air traffic environments. The research will help guide the Federal Aviation Administration as it works to introduce commercial drones into busy U.S. airspace.

The news was welcomed in all three Mid-Atlantic states.

A key proponent has been Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat who was an early investor in cellphones. He called the development of unmanned vehicles "the beginning of something huge."