Inside Unmanned Systems

DEC 2017 - JAN 2018

Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.

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LETTER 47 unmanned systems inside December 2017/January 2018 Getting that higher priority for f light waiv- ers and exemptions is sure to make industry participants happy—and there certainly is no question they are interested. More than 2,300 people had added their and their companies' names to a list of those hoping to join teams competing for one of the initial IP2 slots. Local Perspective Officials at the state and local level seem pleased too. Though no information was available as of press time about the final number of potential lead applicants who had registered, sources fol- lowing the program suggested multiple hun- dreds of state, local and tribal entities submitted expressions of interest by the deadline. "The initial response indicates very strong in- terest to be a part of this landmark drone pilot program," said an FAA spokesperson. "The FAA is still processing notices of intent for eligibility to apply." "We too were quite excited for the announce- ment of the pilot program," said Caroline Sevier, legislative director of the Economic Development and Commerce Committee at the National Governors Association. "We have been working closely with the Department of Transportation just trying to move forward and find out what that new framework will really be so that we can adapt the old FAA regulations for this new technology. We see the pilot program as really a great first step to start to figure out what this new framework should be between states, locals and the federal government." The way IP2 has reframed the discussions between state and local officials and federal authorities is part of what makes it a "fantastic" program, said Lisa Ellman, co-executive direc- tor of the Commercial Drone Alliance. "It's shifted the conversations at the state and local level to the benefits of drones," said Ellman, "to the benefits of commercial drones, to the benefits of use of drones for public agen- cies, to the safety and efficiency benefits of drones." Rather than simply being about ad- ditional prohibitions and restrictions that local officials may want to place, she said, the con- versation is now about how they can really use this technology. Money All of this research and testing will require re- sources and the FAA has said clearly it will not be giving grants or other direct support to the IP2 teams. "At this time, there is no funding allocated or appropriated specifically for this program," the agency conf irmed in its presentations and its written documentation. (It is worth noting, however, that the parameters of the Memorandums of Understanding (MOAs) to be signed between the FAA and the teams will specifically leave room for an exchange of funding, according to the posted Screening Information Request.) Funding for the teams, however, is not ex- pected to be an issue, said Michael Drobac, executive director of the Small UAV Coalition. "There has never been a lack of willingness by the industry to engage and to invest in programs such as these," Drobac told Inside Unmanned Systems. Past programs, he said, have been way too restrictive and sometimes allowed only in locations that were too remote. "Here they're be- ing given options to partner with states and lo- calities and tribal communities in a way that al- lows them to invest. So I don't think at any point the companies have been saying to the DOT or Congress 'Hey we need you to appropriate an in- credible amount of money for us to explore what the tech can accomplish.' Rather they've been saying: 'We need to move faster because we're investing a great deal in this technology and want to see what's possible—and we know what we think is possible.'" The same is true for the state, local and tribal communities that have expressed an interest in being a lead applicant, said Greg Walden, the Coalition's aviation council. "If there really are over a thousand lead applicants that declared, " WE WILL NEED MORE FLIGHT TESTING EXPERIENCES, NOT FEWER. WE MUST TRY OUR IDEAS, FAIL, TRY AGAIN, SUCCEED, BECAUSE THIS IS THE ITERATIVE NATURE OF THE TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT PROCESS." Juan Alonso, professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Stanford University

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