Drone market players in the USA are facing up to the reality of a shake up as countries and regions across the globe tighten up regulations, in response to the increasing considerations of the implications of growing drone use.
Topics such as safe integration of drones into airspace, preventing incursions into restricted and sensitive airspace, and issues of personal privacy are often headlines, and the outcome of these issues no doubt will impact drone sales as well related industries such as mapping and thermal imaging.
In response to these pressing issues, DJI have announced their answer: the creation of an Alliance for Drone Innovation.
Like any good organisation, it will from this moment be known by its acronym: ADI. Formed by major players in the drone industry, most importantly the original Drone Manufacturers Alliance members GoPro, DJI, and 3DR, its intention is to provide a platform for both professional and personal drone makers, innovators and pilots.
Previously, the Drone Manufacturers Alliance was established in 2016 to represent the largest personal and professional drone manufacturers regarding these interests.
The new organization mobilizes a much wider range of stakeholders to support the economic safety, innovation and expansion of drones, also representing interests of individuals, businesses, governments, scientists, academics who use drones in their day to day operations.
Led by executive director Jenny Rosenberg, former Department of Transportation Acting Assistant Secretary for Aviation and International Affairs, the scope and coverage of the new group reflects the increasing number of stakeholders committed to the development of fierce new technology capabilities, and the increasing number of legislative and regulatory activities that affect all those who make us of drones, whether it be for entertainment or work.
On ADI’s new website, they cite five primary areas driving the need for an alliance with a wider stakeholder voice: education, regulatory considerations, promotion of partnerships, fostering of recreational drone use, and the role of Congress and the FAA in airspace integration.
ADI maintains that a healthy recreational drone ecosystem is essential for the development of hardware, software and professional talent required to continue nurturing a robust drone industry, and in this regard intends to promote policies to ensure that this important technology remains open to all.
The alliance’s stance on personal and commercial, while entirely anti-regulatory, prefers education over restrictive laws that would only create extra work for operators. ADI also applauds the FAA’s private education efforts, such as the Know Before You Fly campaign, which assist users in better understanding the guidelines of safe flight. “Drone education that employs safe, responsible, and courteous operation is preferable to artificial blanket restrictions on the use of drone technology that would impose unwarranted burdens on responsible operators,” it says on their website.
The ADI also supports the creation of a microcategory for drone operations, similar to that which exists in other countries like Australia and Canada. By clearly defining and recognising the difference between using smaller drones for commercial, educational, humanitarian and civilian uses, they hope to reduce red tape and its associated costs for business owners, while encouraging a culture of security and compliance.
This does not mean an attitude entirely against regulations, however, as the ADI recognises the increasing issues of privacy must be addressed. As they state, “The Alliance for Drone Innovation supports state and local laws that deal with the problematic behavior associated with violating another person’s privacy, such as “peeping tom” and illegal surveillance laws and the use of existing laws to deter and punish irregularities.” In response to these issues, they envision working with stakeholders to develop guidelines for “good neighbours,” and educating users about reasonable privacy measures.
It is clear, however, the ADI will definitely work towards encouraging regulators to adopt less restrictive practices that will allow innovation in the UAV industry to continue to flourish whilst still maintaining airspace security. “The Alliance for Drone Innovation supports the existing statutory framework laid down in the FAA Modernization & Reform Act, which provides important legal protection for model developers and operators,” their website states.
It is also evident to many that the jumble of laws being created across the nation with regards to drone use and misuse must be addressed, and the ADI is no exception. Since 2016, over 45 states and numerous local government entities have attempted to regulate the UAV industry, creating a patchwork of laws likely to be less secure for all. ADI says, “We support working with federal and local officials to address drones policy issues that are sometimes first addressed by local legislators, but considers it critical that we do it in a consistent, thoughtful and reasonable manner nationwide.”
By ensuring that government policies allow everyone to enjoy the benefits of safe and responsible drone flight, ADI is advising policy makers, the media, and the public on how drones can help society.
“We look forward to working with Congress, the government and other stakeholders to develop policies that promote innovation and make the drone market responsible and safe and prosperous,” said Rosenberg.
In addition to GoPro, DJI and 3DR, the ADI has welcomed new members including Skycatch, Horizon Hobby, Indemnis, Kitty Hawk, Fat Shark, and Pelican. To find out more, interested parties can visit www.droneinnovation.org.