Congressmen in the U.S. have rejected a House version of the National Defense Authorization Act which would ban the purchase of Chinese drone tech by U.S. federal agencies or with federal funding.
Manufacturers, government agencies, and public safety agencies that utilize public funding have been awaiting the outcome of negotiations on the National Defense Authorization Act. A version of the Act in the House of Representatives called for a broad prohibition on “procuring any commercial off-the-shelf drone or covered unmanned aircraft, or any component thereof for use in such a drone or unmanned aircraft, that is manufactured or assembled by a covered foreign entity, including any flight controllers, radios, core processors, printed circuit boards, cameras, or gimbals.”
The provision could have affected drone programs across the country: and two former House representatives were among those who spoke out against the ban, saying that “these proposals have been developed in a haphazard and far-reaching manner that will lead to unintended consequences.” The Senate version of the NDAA did not contain the ban on foreign drone tech.
Now, the conference committee, responsible for reconciling differences between the House and Senate proposals, has rejected the ban in the version of the NDAA that will be voted on.
DJI, the world’s leading drone manufacturer, issued a statement this afternoon: “We are pleased to see that the NDAA conferees took seriously the many concerns voiced by federal agencies, American companies, industry groups, universities and end users – all of which have indicated a country of origin ban would have serious, unintended consequences.”
Vic Moss, Vice President and COO of Drone Service Providers Alliance, broke the story this morning. “This is a great example of a community coming together to help Congress understand that banning products based on country of original is like using hand grenade to kill a mosquito. Sure it would work, but the collateral damage would be incredibly unnecessary. Especially when you have a fly swatter already at your disposal. Many in this community wrote to the committees and explained why this was totally unnecessary. And hopefully those that supported this bill in Congress now understand they should not take the word of a few people with an axe to grind over the actual truth straight from the community affected.”
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 penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.