Prominent members of the drone industry will testify at a hearing held by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation next week titled “Unmanned Aircraft Systems: Innovation, Integration, Successes, and Challenges.” “The hearing will examine public policy issues related to the safe integration of unmanned aircraft systems in the national airspace system,” says the Committee announcement. “It will explore practical applications for this emerging technology, as well as developing economic, privacy, and safety implications.”
Witnesses at the hearing will include Diana Marina Cooper, VP of Legal and Policy Affairs at Precision Hawk USA; and Brendan Schulman, VP of Policy and Legal Affairs at drone manufacturer DJI. PrecisionHawk and DJI have both been leading advocates for the drone industry, participating with the FAA in committees and task forces to develop reasonable drone regulations. Representatives from the FAA, UCLA, the Miami-Dade Aviation Department and Xcel Energy will also act as witnesses.
The Senate Committee has actively debated over drone regulations as part of last year’s FAA Reauthorization debate, when committee members argued over drone privacy, BVLOS flight, drone delivery, and a micro drone classification. The version that eventually passed out of the committee called for several provisions directly related to drone regulation. Committee members have been sharply critical of the FAA, with Senator Maria Cantwell from Washington saying that it was necessary to force a reasonable timeframe for a regulatory framework. “We are inhibiting innovation… because we do not push the FAA to move fast enough,” Cantwell commented during those discussions.
The announced speaker list is a welcome sign for the drone industry, largely excluded from last year’s Senate Subcommittee of Transportation, Housing & Urban Development’s hearing titled “Integrating Unmanned Aircraft Systems Technology into the National Airspace System,” where the tone of the meeting was heavily concerned with privacy and safety issues but did not focus on innovation and industry potential.
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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