By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)
With the conflicting array of State, Federal, and Local regulations pertaining to drone usage in the United States, is there an effort underway to stifle, if not prevent, the drone industry from exploding as predicted? It would seem so. That’s why DJI is leading a partnership with the FAA to make integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into our airspace a common and accepted thing.
My drones have been sitting on a shelf in my office ever since our local city council outlawed flying of drones at nearby parks. Then there’s the overlapping restricted airspace designations that leave everywhere else just as off limits. Therefore, I would have to drive 15 to 20 miles outside the city limits just to practice with my drone.
I don’t really blame this government overreaction to recreational drone flight. There are a lot of idiots out there trying to use their drones to get footage of brush fires or invading the airspace of local airports causing flagrant near misses. The FAA has at least addressed the use of commercial drone use with Part 107. But adding in State and Local regulations, it’s becoming more difficult for the drone industry to make a dent into its projected billion dollar industry.
“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. 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.” – Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs
That’s why DJI has created a new partnership with the FAA to creates a safe integration system that would enable unmanned aerial vehicles to be a regular part of every day life. The partnership is creating the UAS Integration Pilot Program, which will experiment with advanced drone applications and test new forms management procedures that would allow drone flight in a busy aviation landscape.
The program will examine the effectiveness of regulatory approaches nationwide, as well as develop safer drone technology that will balance the interests of safety with the needs of those that fly.
To meet those goals, the UAS Integration Pilot Program (UASIPP) will offer the following to program participants:
- AeroScope Remote Identification: AeroScope is DJI’s “electronic license plate” solution to remotely detect, identify and track airborne drones up to 5 kilometers away. 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: 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 and DJI drones for testing.
- Software Development Kit: DJI’s SDK will serve as the main tool for developing 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: DJI will collaborate 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: 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: DJI will provide educational purchase discounts and curriculum development support for the next generation of drone pilots to learn proper flight procedures and regulations.
- Access to our User Community: DJI will facilitate outreach efforts to their online community of drone users for programs that include thoughtful methods to engage drone pilots.
DJI will not only work with the FAA, but also State, Local, and Tribal governments who wish to participate in the program. The FAA requires various local and tribal governments interested in participating in the program to submit a notice of intent by November 28th. To apply, users should submit a brief description of an anticipated proposal as well as contact information to PilotProgram-US@dji.com.
Frankly, I’m all for it. Right now, we have an overreaction by local governments looking to stem the tide of users and not really knowing where to focus their efforts. To that end, we end up with overly restrictive blanket regulations that do nobody any good, and will not stop those who will violate the law to get their jollies in the air. The UAS Integration Pilot Program could be a step in the right direction.