HEARING WRAP UP – Drones: The Next Generation of Commerce?

Published: Jun 17, 2015

Witnesses:
Michael Whitaker, Deputy Administrator, U.S. Department of Transportation
John Cavolowsky, Director of the Airspace Systems Program Office, National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Mr. Brian Wynne, President & CEO, Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
Mr. Paul E. Misener, President & CEO, Amazon, Inc.
Mr. Harley Geiger, Advocacy Director and Senior Counsel, Center for Democracy and Technology

 

TAKEAWAYS:

  • The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) committed to finalizing their proposed rule for small, unmanned aircraft systems by June 2016. They also committed to expanding line of sight operations for commercial use.
  • According to the UAV trade association, every year that the integration is delayed, the United States loses more than $10 billion in potential economic impact.
  • Integration delays make it very difficult for companies to developed transformative drone technology to test their ideas. As a result, groundbreaking technology may find homes in other countries. 
  • In an evolving world of technology, the right balance must be struck between privacy and safety.

 

PURPOSE:

  • To discuss the challenges and economic impact of regulating emerging technology for personal and commercial uses, as well as the privacy concerns inherent with the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles, referred to as “drones.”

 

BACKGROUND:

  • On February 15, 2015 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a proposed rule on the commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS).
  • The FAA proposed limiting the size, speed, and range of the drones; testing, certification, and vetting requirements for drone operators; and air space restrictions around airports, among other things.
  • To streamline application of this technology, the agency established an interim policy for certain UAS operators who obtain exemptions until the FAA develops the final rule.
  • Under the interim policy, the FAA will grant a Certificate of Waiver of Authorization (COA) for flights at or below 200 feet to any UAS operator with this exemption for aircraft and operations that meet the other criteria set forth in the proposed rule. The blanket 200-foot COA allows flights anywhere in the country except restricted airspace and other areas, such as major cities, where the FAA prohibits UAS operations.

 

Key Videos:

Mica“Who basically is in charge of setting the rules for privacy? Is it the individual states and law enforcement, is it the Department of Justice, is this an FAA responsibility?”

Hurd: “One of the things that have made this country great is we’re always on the edge of innovation, we have the greatest entrepreneurs in the world… In the development of this technology, is the U.S. leading on this?”

Massie: “The privacy aspect of [drones] does present some new challenges. Should there be a floor for operation of drones?  Do you own the property an inch above your lawn?  If you have a locked gate on your property and somebody climbs over the gate, your expectation is that they are violating your privacy.  What if they fly over your gate?”