Manufacturers, including market leader DJI, are seeking state, local and tribal government partners to participate in the UAS Integration Pilot Program.
The Pilot Program introduced earlier this month calls for state, local and tribal governments to work with industry partners to propose drone programs in their communities. The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will select at least 5 applicants to work with on implementation of the programs, granting airspace waivers as required and accepting feedback from the government and industry partners. The U.S. hopes that the feedback generated will help to establish the appropriate roles for state, local and tribal governments in drone regulation while moving drone integration into the national airspace forward.
With the November 28 deadline for submitting a notice of intent looming, DJI has published a press release inviting local government agencies to partner with the manufacturer and committing expertise and resources to joint projects.
“The FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program smartly provides opportunities for government and industry to experiment with advanced drone operations and test new forms of airspace management,” sasy the release. “DJI is pleased that the program will help inform policymakers about how well different regulatory approaches can increase the safe adoption of drone technology while also balancing different interests in how drone operations are governed.”
“DJI has worked for years with government officials around the world to help develop reasonable, safety-enhancing public policies while keeping open the pathways to innovation,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. “We would very much value the opportunity to work with U.S. state, local and tribal governments to develop smart and comprehensive strategies for expanding how drones can benefit their constituents while properly managing their integration into the airspace.”
DJI has the vast majority of the drone market, providing over 60% of all commercial drones in the air by some estimates, and more than 70% of recreational drones. That the company has taken the time to make an official invitation speaks to the importance of the program. DJI is outlining not only its technology capabilities but also the resources that they are willing to contribute, which range from hardware to educational outreach:
AeroScope Remote Identification: AeroScope is DJI’s “electronic license plate” solution to remotely detect, identify and track airborne drones up to 5 kilometers away. For pilot programs that will explore the safety, security, and public-acceptance benefits of remote identification, or models of regulatory enforcement and accountability, DJI will provide up to three AeroScope units and direct technical support to get the most out of this solution, and to collaborate on ways that this technology can lead to expanded UAS operations as well as address governing concerns.
Drone Equipment: DJI’s drones span the full range of modern aerial platforms, from the popular Spark mini-drone to the powerful Mavic Pro prosumer drone to the rugged Matrice 200 series of professional drones. For pilot programs that plan to put drones themselves to the test in exploring new operational concepts, DJI will provide up to $20,000 in UAS equipment.
Software Development Kit: DJI’s SDK is the leading platform for the creation of innovative drone applications, including mapping, sensing, reality capture, navigation, search-and-rescue and even augmented reality. For pilot programs that involve development of custom software solutions, DJI will provide direct, VIP support from its SDK Team in Silicon Valley.
Policy Collaboration: Exploring the frontiers for drone operations requires thoughtful, deliberative collaboration on opportunities and challenges. DJI is fortunate to have collaborated with city, state, federal and international governmental bodies on drone policy. For all pilot programs, which will inherently explore the intersection between technology and regulation, DJI will provide direct expertise and close, in-person collaboration with DJI’s U.S. public policy team.
Custom Geofencing: DJI implemented geofencing more than four years ago to help automatically prevent drone flight in locations that raise aviation safety or national security concerns. For pilot programs that involve protecting aviation or secure facilities, DJI will provide customized geofencing to test flexible systems that solve problems while enabling innovative operations.
Educational Outreach: Drones inspire young students to explore science, engineering and aviation careers. For pilot programs involving expanded opportunities among educational institutions, DJI will provide educational purchase discounts and curriculum development support.
Access to our User Community: One of the FAA’s key criteria for selecting pilot program participants is “the involvement of affected communities in, and their support for, participating in the Program.” DJI’s customers represent the largest community of professional and personal drone operators in the country, many of whom are already using drone technology for beneficial applications. We will facilitate outreach efforts to this community for programs that include thoughtful methods to engage drone pilots.
“DJI also welcomes other ideas for how DJI, as the leading global manufacturer of innovative drone technology, can contribute to ambitious Integration Pilot Program proposals,” says the release. “State, local and tribal governments interested in partnering with DJI on a proposal should send a brief description of an anticipated proposal as well as contact information to [email protected]”
While the drone industry anxiously awaits the outcome of the UAS Integration Pilot Program, local governments stand to gain significant benefit from the program and industry cooperation, if willing to apply.
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.