DJI’s top lawyer, Brendan Schulman, testified yesterday at a New York City council hearing on the city’s proposed drone regulations.
Demonstrating one of DJI’s leading consumer drones, Schulman pointed out that the restrictive regulations seem out of proportion to the issues. “This is what you’re proposing to regulate. It weighs less than three pounds, about the same as the countless seagulls that fly around the city,” Schulman said. “These basically say to the world that New York City is no place for UAV technology. And if you remove the word UAV from those proposals and ask people what this is about, I think they might think it’s about guns or toxic chemicals or something serious like that.”
While officials from city services such as the NYPD, FDNY, the Buildings Department, and the Parks Department have all said that they would like to integrate drone technology into their departments, the proposed bills would severely restrict drone use. The most liberal of the three bills would for practical purposes allow drone use only during daylight, in line of sight, and in very specifically designated park areas – only for recreational purposes. A second would practically ban drone use completely; and a third would require licenses and insurance for all operators. The bills represent the harshest city restrictions reported to date.
“I’m very concerned with what I see in the proposals,” Schulman said. As the spokesperson for DJI on regulatory issues, Schulman has been at the forefront of drone regulation in the US; recently completing his assignment to the FAA Drone Registration Task Force.
The New York Civil Liberties Union voiced support for the proposed bills. “It is not beyond dispute that certain uses of UAVs pose a significant risk to public safety,” Fox5 News reports Rashida Richardson said. She may not have intended the double negative, but certainly added to confusion over the issue.
Most drone advocacy groups support some regulation; but find New York City’s proposals unnecessarily restrictive. Advocates also claim that the city may not necessarily have jurisdiction over airspace; experts argue that the FAA has exclusive jurisdiction. Certainly the FAA has been the agency to impose penalties on companies they claim have violated regulations over NYC airspace, as they did in the now infamous penalty against SkyPan International. Council members have said that they will wait to act until federal regulations become clearer.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
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