AUVSI President and CEO Brian Wynne and Shyam Chidamber, drone delivery company Flirtey‘s “Senior Advisor and Chief Evangelist,” testified before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce on “Delivery to Consumers.”
Wynne and Chidamber joined representatives from Postmates (a platform for local couriers) and Georgetown University. Each panel member gave a five minute statement and then fielded questions from committee members.
Wynne’s statement emphasized that a collaborative effort between government and industry would be required for integration of drones into the NAS, and pointed out the benefits that drones have to offer.
“From inspecting pipelines to newsgathering to mapping flood zones, UAS help save time, save money and, most importantly, save lives,” said Wynne. “It is no wonder why thousands of businesses – small and large – have already embraced this technology, and many more are considering integrating it into their future operations.”
Listing some of the recent achievements in the drone industry, Wynn said that government should support the industries efforts: “These advancements make it clear that we are at the dawn of a new American renaissance in technology, one that deserves government attention and support,” said Wynne. “In the past, government invested heavily in physical infrastructure – from the nation’s air traffic control system to its interstate highway system – which ultimately had a tremendous impact on commerce… and the unmanned systems industry will be no different.”
Chidamber’s testimony was more forceful in making the point that government needs to step up the pace of drone integration in order to realize the benefits. Chidamber pointed out government’s responsibility to support the industry: “… Section 102 also states that FAA’s responsibility includes the encouragement and development of an air-transportation system properly adapted to the present and future needs of the foreign and domestic commerce of the United States. In other words, the ‘Fostering of Air Commerce,'” said Chidamber. “The FAA has done a great job on safety, but has not kept pace with pace and diffusion of drone technology.”
Chidamber was direct in telling lawmakers that the drone industry would move overseas if regulators did not move quickly. “And, over 1million drones were sold last Christmas in the United States. Almost all of them were manufactured in China,” he said. “There is a huge risk here that if regulations stifle the emergence of this industry, the market leaders will start elsewhere… If regulations stifle the emergence of drone delivery, we may lose our lead in drone delivery technology and the $ multi- billion business that it is likely to become.”