Association News

AUVSI Board Explains Association Constitutional Changes
15 April
By Ralph Alderson

As part of the 2014 ballot for directors and officers for its board, AUVSI members are asked to approve the combination of our current constitution and bylaws into a single bylaws document. This consolidation is important to our association’s ability to grow and operate efficiently. To explain why, a little background information is in order. 

AUVSI was formed in Ohio more than 40 years ago. Much has changed in the best practices of running a nonprofit association since that time. As has been the case since 1972, we are currently governed by Ohio statutes (nonprofit corporation law), our original articles of incorporation, a constitution and bylaws. If that sounds like a lot of potentially conflicting verbiage, you’re right – it is. State law is a set part of the structure and AUVSI is fully compliant with it. Articles of incorporation are, in general, pretty innocuous. Ours primarily sets forth our association’s purposes at a very top level. They have little to do with day-to-day operations. A constitution such as AUVSI’s, however, does affect how we operate. 

Among modern nonprofits, a constitution is now a little used artifact. For example, the last time the membership was asked to modify the constitution was in 1997, when you added “International” to the association name. Bylaws, on the other hand, are required by state law and are updated more frequently as the environment and goals of the association change. Bylaws are the sole document that most modern nonprofits use to govern. Integrating the optional constitution into the single, legally required document removes the potential for conflicts between two slightly differing sets of operating rules. 

In addition, this reorganization and update of our governing documents isn’t just a paperwork drill. The board of directors has also used this opportunity to address some housekeeping issues, including the introduction of specifically allowing such “modern” conveniences as electronic communications (e.g., e-mail) instead of snail mail letters for the conduct of business. And, for example, the term “robotics” has been added to “unmanned systems” in our existing aims and goals of the association in order to better connect with a new generation and a wider market. 

While working through this process, the staff, the board and our legal consultants were careful to remain consistent with state law and to faithfully preserve existing governance concepts, modifying them only where there were conflicts between the documents and where current practice is firmly set and noncontroversial. Should you be curious about more details, the combined bylaws document is available for your review on the voting website. The board of directors asks for a “yes” vote on the ballot question, so that we can help operate your association more efficiently. 

Ralph Alderson is executive vice president of AUVSI’s board of directors.

AUVSI, AMA Lead 33 Organizations in Calling on FAA to Expedite Rulemaking for Unmanned Aircraft Systems
Broad array of industries, manned and unmanned aviation communities come together to advocate for regulatory framework
8 April 2014

AUVSI and the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA) joined 31 other organizations today to send a letter to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) encouraging the agency to expedite the rulemaking process for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations in the U.S. airspace. The letter also calls on the FAA to allow the limited use of small UAS for commercial purposes before the final rulemaking is completed.

While Congress authorized the integration of UAS in 2012 and the FAA has recently implemented key steps in the integration process, the rulemaking for small UAS has been delayed for almost four years. Last month’s FAA v. Pirker decision underscores the immediate need for a safety structure and regulatory framework for small UAS, according to the co-signees.

“The time for resolution has come, and we cannot afford any further delays. The technology is advancing faster than the regulations to govern it,” the letter states. “While the FAA has indicated its intention to appeal the Pirker decision to the full National Transportation Safety Board, we strongly encourage the FAA to simultaneously expedite its small UAS rulemaking and issue notice and public comment as soon as possible.”

The co-signees include a broad array of organizations and industries, from agriculture to real estate to photography, that recognize the benefits of UAS. Meanwhile, the effort represents the first time stakeholders from both the manned and unmanned aviation communities are coming together to press for a regulatory framework for UAS. The Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Helicopters Association International are among the letter’s co-signees.

In addition to expediting the UAS rulemaking, the organizations urged the FAA to use its congressional authority to allow some limited UAS operations right away. 

“We recommend the FAA use all available means, including Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, to allow for some limited UAS operations, subject to the Secretary of Transportation’s safety determination, before the small UAS rule is finalized,” the letter states.

“The current regulatory void has left American entrepreneurs and others either sitting on the sidelines or operating in the absence of appropriate safety guidelines. The recreational community has proven that community-based safety programming is effective in managing this level of activity, and we highly encourage the FAA to allow similar programming to be used to allow the small UAS industry to establish appropriate standards for safe operation. Doing so will allow a portion of the promising commercial sector to begin operating safely and responsibly in the national airspace.”

“Community-based programming has a proven track record,” said AMA President Bob Brown. “The members of the Academy of Model Aeronautics have operated unmanned aircraft (model aircraft) in the national airspace for decades and have set the example for operating small unmanned aircraft systems in a safe and harmonious fashion. The Academy stands ready to lend its expertise and to assist the FAA in developing a safety structure that will enable and allow all small UAS to operate safely and responsibly in the national airspace”

According to AUVSI’s economic impact study, the integration of UAS will create more than 100,000 new jobs and $82 billion in economic impact in the first decade following integration. AUVSI President and CEO Michael Toscano noted the many societal benefits of UAS and the economic costs of any further delays. 

“UAS have enormous potential to benefit our lives,” Toscano said. ”This technology has the ability to transform that way many industries operate, whether helping farmers better survey their fields, assisting search and rescue missions or providing real estate agents with new vantage points. Delays in the rulemaking process have slowed the integration process, keeping these industries on the sidelines. Every year that integration is delayed, the United States loses more than $10 billion in potential economic impact. This translates to a loss of $27.6 million per day that UAS are not integrated.”

The letter co-signees include:

Aerospace States Association
Air Traffic Controllers Association
Airborne Law Enforcement Association
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association
Airports Council International – North America
American Association of Airport Executives
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
American Society of Agronomy
American Soybean Association
Crop Science Society of America
Experimental Aircraft Association
General Aviation Manufactures Association
Helicopter Association International
International Society of Precision Agriculture
International Stability Operations Association
National Air Traffic Controllers Association
National Air Transportation Association
National Association of Realtors
National Association of State Aviation Officials
National Association of Wheat Growers
National Barley Growers Association
National Business Aviation Association
National Press Photographers Association
National Sheriffs’ Association 
National Ski Areas Association
National Sunflower Association
North American Equipment Dealers Association
Radio Television Digital News Association
Realtors Land Institute
Soil Science Society of America
U.S. Canola Association

The full letter may be found at www.auvsi.org/AUVSI-AMA-Sign-On-Letter-To-FAA.


AUVSI Statement on Facebook’s Plans to Use UAS to Expand Internet Access
28 March 2014

Today, Michael Toscano, president & CEO of AUVSI, released the following statement on Facebook’s plans to use unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) to expand internet access around the world:

“It’s exciting to see more and more companies, from retailers to technology giants like Facebook, continue to realize the potential of unmanned aircraft systems. The increased attention our industry is receiving demonstrates the wide range of applications of UAS technology. Whether it is delivering packages, surveying farms or providing internet access, UAS can help businesses by saving time, saving money and, most importantly, saving lives. We’re excited to see a growing number of companies investing in the technology and developing innovative uses that will help to change industries and improve lives.”


AUVSI Statement on NTSB's Pirker Decision
7 March 2014

Today, Michael Toscano, president & CEO of AUVSI, released the following statement on the National Transportation Safety Board’s Pirker Decision:

“We are reviewing the decision very carefully and we have also been in touch with the FAA to discuss its implications and the agency’s response. Our paramount concern is safety. We must ensure the commercial use of UAS takes place in a safe and responsible manner, whenever commercial use occurs. The decision also underscores the immediate need for a regulatory framework for small UAS.”


AUVSI Applauds AUVSI Applauds DOT Move Toward Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications
4 February 2014

AUVSI applauds the U.S. Department of Transportation’s decision to begin moving toward enabling vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology for light vehicles.

“This technology can help make our cars safer and more efficient, building on the safety technology carmakers have already been introducing,” said AUVSI President and CEO Michael Toscano. “Vehicles equipped with this technology will be less likely to have accidents, spend less time in traffic jams and burn less fuel.”

The cost of automobile crashes in the United States alone cost the economy more than $230 billion a year and consume a greater share of national healthcare costs than any other cause of illness or injury.

“By moving to implement V2V technology, the Department of Transportation will save money and save lives, two great attributes of this type of technology,” Toscano said.

Toscano also said that AUVSI has worked with the Department of Transportation for a number of years and will continue to do so. Currently, AUVSI has partnered with the Transportation Research Board (TRB) to host the Automated Vehicles Symposium 2014, to be held 15-17 July, at the Hyatt Regency San Francisco Airport. With a combination of engaging plenary sessions and interactive workshops, the symposium will provide a wealth of information for the automated vehicles community. 

AUVSI Encourages FAA to Allow Limited Small UAS Operations
27 January 2014

On 27 Jan., AUVSI sent a letter to the FAA encouraging the agency to allow limited unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations before the small UAS rule is finalized. The letter also urged the FAA to stick to its newest deadline for publication of the small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM), and to make the NPRM a top priority for 2014. 
 
The FAA has been working on the NPRM since 2009. The FAA this month indicated that the small UAS rule is now expected to be published in November 2014 – almost four years late.
 
While the rulemaking proceeds, AUVSI President and CEO Michael Toscano called on the FAA to use its authority to allow small UAS operations “in areas where there is little risk to manned aircraft or people on the ground, such as around power lines, pipelines and rural farms.” 
 
Toscano also urged the agency to adhere to its timeline for the publication of the small UAS rule, noting that, “until the FAA writes the rules for small unmanned aircraft, the commercial UAS industry will remain grounded.”
 
“AUVSI’s economic impact study found that, in the first decade following integration, the UAS industry will create more than 100,000 jobs and $82 billion in economic impact. However, each day that integration is delayed will lead to $27 million in lost economic impact,” the letter reads.
 
The full letter may be found here

AUVSI Statement on the FAA's UAS Test Site Announcement
30 December 2013

Today, Michael Toscano, president & CEO of AUVSI, released the following statement on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) announcement to develop and test unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at six sites around the country:

“Today’s announcement by the FAA is an important milestone on the path toward unlocking the potential of unmanned aircraft. From advancing scientific research and responding to natural disasters to locating missing persons and helping to fight wildfires, UAS can save time, save money, and, most importantly, save lives. 
 
“In designating the first UAS test sites in these states, the FAA has taken an important step toward recognizing the incredible economic and job creation potential this technology brings. AUVSI’s economic report projects that the expansion of UAS technology will create more than 100,000 jobs nationwide and generate more than $82 billion in economic impact in the first decade following integration.

“AUVSI congratulates University of Alaska, State of Nevada, New York's Griffiss International Airport, North Dakota Department of Commerce, Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VA Tech) on their designation and applauds the FAA for meeting the necessary benchmarks to ensure a safe and responsible integration process. Our hope is this will lead to the creation of more sites and eventually to full integration of UAS into our skies, which will help create lasting jobs and boost the U.S. economy.” 

AUVSI Statement on Amazon’s Announcement of Using UAS to Deliver Packages
2 December 2013

Today, Michael Toscano, president & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), released the following statement on Amazon’s announcement of using Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) to deliver packages:
 
"Amazon’s plans to launch a ‘Prime Air’ delivery system demonstrate the promise of unmanned aircraft systems. It underscores how this innovative technology will transform the way industries operate and the importance of keeping UAS integration on track. Whether it is improving agriculture output, helping first responders, advancing scientific research, or making business more efficient, UAS are capable of saving time, saving money and most importantly, saving lives.
 
"While Amazon demonstrated that deliveries via UAS are technically feasible, the commercial use of UAS is currently prohibited in the United States. The FAA, however, is currently working to establish rules for commercial use. Even Amazon has acknowledged the regulatory framework needs to be in place before it can launch its service, and this is going to take until at least 2015. Like many other companies and industries, Amazon is testing UAS now so that it can be ready to recognize the benefits of the technology once UAS are fully integrated into the U.S. airspace in the coming years.

"The wider use of UAS will have a huge economic impact in the U.S. for both the public and commercial sectors. Our economic study released earlier this year found that the UAS industry will have an $82 billion economic impact and create more than 100,000 jobs in the first decade after integration."


AUVSI Statement on the FAA’s Release of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Integration Roadmap
7 November 2013

Today, Michael Toscano, president & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), released the following statement on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Roadmap and privacy policy:

“AUVSI applauds the FAA for taking this important step toward integrating UAS and recognizing the many societal and economic benefits that will follow. From advancing scientific research and responding to natural disasters to locating missing persons and helping to fight wildfires, UAS can save time, save money, and, most importantly, save lives. In addition, the technology will be a boon for our nation’s economy. AUVSI’s economic report projects that the expansion of UAS technology will create more than 100,000 jobs and generate more than $82 billion in economic impact in the first decade following the integration.

“AUVSI also applauds the FAA for setting forth a privacy policy for UAS test sites that affirms the strength of existing federal and state privacy laws. As an industry, we believe privacy is important, and that the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and subsequent court decisions provide a robust legal framework that protects Americans’ right to privacy. 

“In requiring UAS test sites to have a written plan for data use and retention, the FAA also appropriately focuses on the real issue when it comes to privacy – the use, storage and sharing of data, or whether data collected must be deleted. This dovetails with AUVSI’s position that any privacy laws must be platform neutral, treating manned and unmanned platforms the same. UAS are one of many platforms that could be used for collecting data. Privacy policies should focus on how data is collected and used, as opposed to focusing on the specific platform that is doing the collecting.”

Click here to see the FAA’s Roadmap. 

Click here to read FAA Administrator Huerta's speech. 


New Poll Shows Majority of Americans Support UAS for Search and Rescue and Border Patrol
16 August 2013

A poll conducted by Monmouth University  shows that a majority of Americans support the use of unmanned aircraft systems for search and rescue and border patrol. The poll found that 83 percent of Americans support UAS use for search and rescue and 62 percent support the use of the technology for patrolling our nation’s border. Michael Toscano, president & CEO of AUVSI, released the following statement:

 “This poll shows Americans’ overwhelming support for UAS for a variety of applications. UAS have the potential to help in search and rescue missions by covering more ground and keep police officers safe by providing an eye in the sky in dangerous situations. They do all of this at a fraction of the cost of manned aircraft, helping to save time, save money and, most importantly, save lives. We as an industry are committed to the safe and responsible integration of UAS into the national airspace, and it is exciting to see public support behind the uses of this technology.”

The Monmouth poll comes on the heels of an Institute for Homeland Security Solutions and RTI International poll released earlier this year that also showed that a majority of Americans support UAS use in search and rescue, fighting crime and commercial applications. The poll found that 57 percent of the general public supports UAS for any application, 88 percent support UAS for search and 63 percent support their use in fighting crime. 

AUVSI Launches Unmanned Systems & Robotics Directory
13 August 2013

Today, AUVSI launched the Unmanned Systems & Robotics Directory.  The Directory is the largest collection of unmanned systems and robotic platform information to date. Spanning more than 100,000 data points the directory includes more than 1,200 companies and more than 3,800 platforms. 

With an easy to use interface, customers can search, filer and compare information with more than 30 searchable variables. Data can then be downloaded as raw Excel or PDF files. Reports describe each platform; the country of origin; possible applications; mechanical and performance specifications; power, propulsion and payload properties; launch/recovery and communication methods; platform/manufacturer status and more. 
 
New companies and platforms are being added daily providing users with the most current information available. Users have the option of subscribing to a single domain (air, ground or maritime) or all three depending on their needs. Free reports providing an in depth look at the data and robotics markets are available at robotdirectory.auvsi.org.  

“The Unmanned Systems & Robotics Directory represents a great new tool to support the unmanned systems and robotics community,” said Michael Toscano, president & CEO of AUVSI. “We are very excited about the potential of the directory to further the fielding of unmanned systems and robotics products,” Toscano said.

Congressional Hearing Highlights Enormous Potential of Unmanned Systems in Maritime Environments
31 July 2013

Today, industry experts told a House committee unmanned systems are improving the efficiency, safety and security of maritime transportation and Coast Guard operations. Entitled “How to Improve the Efficiency, Safety, and Security of Maritime Transportation: Better Use and Integration of Maritime Domain Awareness Data,” the hearing before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation featured industry experts, government officials and academics testifying on U.S. Coast Guard maritime domain awareness (MDA) programs, including the use of UAS. 
 
Steve Morrow, president & CEO of Insitu, a subsidiary of Boeing, testified on behalf of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). Morrow highlighted the enormous potential unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) hold to increase the reach and efficiency of current maritime systems while reducing the risk of the operations. 
 
At the hearing Morrow testified, “UAS have the ability to access and survey vast expanses of our oceans and rivers to supplement the capabilities of manned vehicles and other platforms. The critical situational awareness that UAS provide could support search and rescue operations, anti-drug or anti-smuggling operations, environmental protection, anti-piracy operations and many other missions. In these missions, UAS are capable of saving time, saving money and most importantly, saving lives.”
 
The UAS industry also provides an opportunity for economic growth and job creation. A study by AUVSI found that the unmanned aircraft industry is poised to create more than 70,000 jobs in the first three years following the integration of UAS into the national airspace. By 2025, that number is estimated to rise to 103,776 new jobs – with an economic impact of more than $82.1 billion over that period.
 
In addition Bill Vass, president & CEO of Liquid Robotics, Inc., also painted a vibrant picture for the future of unmanned systems in maritime.
 
“Around the globe, defense departments, coastal defense forces, and oil & gas companies are faced with the daunting challenge to continuously protect and secure vast coverage areas with limited resources and shrinking budgets. The ability to have real time maritime information can be the difference between life and death, the difference between apprehending smugglers and the difference between avoiding an environmental catastrophe. The overwhelming barrier has been providing affordable, persistent or long duration, multi-sensor data for the monitoring, detection and tracking of maritime targets and conditions. … To have this level of maritime awareness requires mobile, unmanned resources at the surface of the ocean collecting data from subsea sensors, collecting surface data and sharing this information amongst trusted organizations - in real time.”
 
In maritime settings specifically, unmanned systems can reach higher vantage points and survey vast expanses of water where a boat might be adrift or crew missing. Bad weather and difficult terrain can prolong search and rescue efforts, lowering chances for survival while raising the financial cost. However, unmanned systems make searching for those lost at sea cheaper, faster and safer than using helicopters and manned vessels. In recent months, the U.S. Coast Guard has been testing UAS capabilities to learn how the technology can improve situational awareness and identify threats.  
 
“There should be no doubt that the future of maritime domain awareness should and will include unmanned aircraft,” Morrow affirmed in his testimony.

AUVSI Announces New Board of Directors
16 July 2013

AUVSI announces the election of officers and directors for the new term of office. 

Officers elected for the 2013-2014 term are John Lademan, chairman; Ralph Alderson, executive vice chairman; John Burke, first vice chairman and Gene Fraser, treasurer. Peter Bale continues as immediate past chairman.

Newly elected to the AUVSI Board of Directors: 
Dallas Brooks
Mark Gordon
Rand LeBouvier
Stewart Moorehead
Stephen Newton 
David Place. 

Continuing AUVSI Board of Directors:
Jason Grabinsky
Tim Heely
Neil Hunter
Heather James
Michelle Kalphat
Chad Partridge
Mark Patterson
Steven Pennington 
Dave Seagle 
Virginia Young.

“We are pleased to welcome our sterling new leadership to the board and are also grateful to our returning members for their continued service,” said AUVSI President & CEO Michael Toscano. “These officers and directors represent a wide range of companies and institutions in the global unmanned systems and robotics community, bringing expertise in technology, applications, markets and policy related to this rapidly emerging industry. 

“AUVSI would like to thank Peter Bale for his leadership and look forward to working with our dedicated new chairman, John Lademan.”

The new term of office for the board of directors starts at AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2013 in Washington, DC, 12-15 August, where more than 7,000 attendees from 40 countries will see more than 550 exhibits and participate in more than 100 educational sessions, showcasing the present and future capabilities of unmanned systems and robotics technology.

Agricultural Flight Demonstration Underscores Benefits and Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft
2 July 2013

Salina, Kan. – Unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) will have a significant impact on Kansas’ precision agriculture industry and overall economy, according to elected officials, academics and industry leaders speaking at a press conference today. U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) joined leaders at Kansas State University and Michael Toscano, president & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), to launch a flight demonstration of numerous UAS used to enhance the care of crops, livestock, pasture and rangelands. Sen. Moran and Toscano also delivered remarks on the significant economic growth and job creation potential of UAS in Kansas.  

“As a global leader in aviation and aerospace, Kansas is a pioneer in the Unmanned Aircraft Systems market, which holds great promise for boosting the economy and creating jobs in our state,” Sen. Moran said. “As the aerospace industry grows and looks to take on new UAS ventures and industries, there is real potential for this platform to be used responsibly and safely in an industry already booming in Kansas: agriculture. The number of ways farmers and ranchers can utilize UAS are endless — from mapping the spread of disease or insects within a field to applying fertilizer to a specific area of crops — and I look forward to continued progress in this field.”

As a national leader in UAS advancement, Kansas is poised to benefit significantly from the rapidly growing unmanned systems industry and the forthcoming integration of UAS into the U.S. airspace. A recent AUVSI study projects that UAS integration will contribute an economic impact of $2.9 billion and create 3,716 new jobs in Kansas by 2025. 

“Today’s flight demonstrations highlight one of the greatest potential applications for unmanned aircraft technology – saving farmers millions of dollars in time and resources,” said Michael Toscano. “Integrating UAS into the national airspace will lead to a host of new uses, and Kansas is well-positioned to reap the economic benefits that will accompany the expanded use of this technology.” 

The agriculture sector is expected to be the largest market for UAS technology, the AUVSI study finds, accounting for 80 percent of all commercial use. Among many other agricultural benefits, UAS could provide a cost-effective way to protect crop health and observe overall farm performance. In 2015 alone, the total economic impact of agriculture spending on unmanned aircraft in Kansas is estimated to reach more than $75 million, with 772 new jobs created.

"We at Kansas State are excited to see the progression of this technology to the point where it can really start benefiting the general population and agriculture is the perfect place to start since it touches
so many people,” said Dr. Kurt Barnhart, a professor, head of the department of aviation, and executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center at Kansas State University.

The incorporation of UAS is a growing trend in precision agriculture, as it makes farming more efficient and cost effective. UAS could provide farmers with a low-cost way to spray for pests and diseases, analyze soil patterns, and check crops for signs of drought and blight. UAS can save farmers the significant cost of hiring or operating manned aircraft. 
Scientists in the United States have already begun using small remote-controlled helicopters to help farmers detect diseases and stress in their crops. The helicopters take photographs and measurements that allow farmers to keep an eye on their large fields. An increasing number of American colleges and universities, such as Kansas State, are advancing UAS technology as a tool in agriculture as well.

For example, researchers at Kansas State have been able to use UAS to far more accurately and efficiently locate and quantify harmful algae affecting many Kansas lakes and ponds. The University has also successfully demonstrated that UAS can be used to greatly reduce the time required to identify how environmental and genetic interactions affect the characteristics of plants. In addition, researchers are currently working on projects that will deliver detailed economic benefits on how UAS can impact growers, seed distributors, and crop breeders.
 
Legislative Background 
On February 14, 2012, President Obama signed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act into law, which includes important provisions on the integration of UAS into the national airspace system by September 2015. To ensure a safe and responsible integration process, the legislation created a number of benchmarks to be reached along the way, including the establishment of six test sites around the country for the testing and development of UAS. 

According to media reports, at least 30 states have expressed interest in hosting a test site, either individually or as part of a multi-state consortium. Because the test sites would attract government and industry personnel, many states see the remarkable economic benefits of a test site. 

As a leader in the development of UAS, Kansas already has the capability of a test site, through the research, operational, and regulatory expertise of different entities throughout the state. The state also possesses the accessible restricted airspace needed to test UAS. Kansas State has also partnered on a joint test site proposal where it would play a significant role in the research and development activities. 
New Study Shows Strong Public Support for Use of Unmanned Aircraft
24 June 2013

An overwhelming majority of Americans support the use of unmanned aircraft for homeland security, search and rescue, and fighting crime, according to a new poll released today. The study, conducted by Institute for Homeland Security Solutions and RTI International, shows that the majority of the general public supports the use of unmanned aircraft in the United States for a wide array of uses. 
 
According to the national study, 57 percent of the general public supports the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) for any application. When asked about specific uses of the technology, support was significantly higher, with 88 percent of respondents supporting UAS for search and rescue operations. In addition, two-thirds of Americans support their use in homeland security missions.
 
The study of 2,000 respondents, conducted in March 2013, gauged perceptions about of unmanned aircraft in the U.S. Additional findings include:
• 88 percent of the general public supports their use in search and rescue operations
• 67 percent support their use in homeland security missions
• 63 percent support their use in fighting crime 
• 61 percent support their use in commercial applications
 
To read the full report, click here.  
 
“The tremendous support that Americans have for the use of unmanned aircraft systems in the U.S. underscores the public’s understanding of the widespread benefits,” said Michael Toscano, president & CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). “Unmanned aircraft have the potential to be beneficial in a wide range of applications, from helping to search for lost children and missing hikers to helping homeland security keep our borders safe. This public support shows the importance of safely integrating UAS into the national airspace in a timely manner.”
 
UAS can be invaluable for law enforcement and border patrol agents, aiding search and rescue missions, pursuing fugitives on the loose or offering a critical vantage point when responding to a hostage situation. In February 2013, a UAS was used by law enforcement responding to a hostage situation in Alabama.
 
“It’s important to understand the societal implications when new technologies are introduced,” said Joe Eyerman, Ph.D., director of the Center for Security, Defense, and Safety at RTI, co-director of the Institute for Homeland Security Solutions, and the study’s lead author.  “If we don’t take the time to do this, it is likely that governments and industry will make a number of costly missteps while implementing this technology and the regulations that govern its use.”
 
The poll is part of an RTI research program to better understand the social, behavioral and policy implications of this new technology. Two pilot studies were designed: one to gauge public perceptions and awareness of unmanned aircraft systems, and another to assess law enforcement concerns.
 
Toscano continued, “Unmanned aircraft increase human potential, allowing us to execute dangerous or difficult tasks safely and efficiently. Whether it is helping first responders, advancing scientific research, or making business more efficient, UAS are capable of saving time, saving money and most importantly, saving lives.”


AUVSI Welcomes State Governments Addressing UAS Privacy Issue
7 May 2013

Today, AUVSI supported the Aerospace States Association (ASA) partnering with the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the National Council of State Legislatures (NCSL) to begin dialogue on privacy issues related to integrating unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the national airspace system (NAS).
 
AUVSI President & CEO Michael Toscano said, “The unmanned systems industry welcomes this conversation about how best to advance unmanned aircraft technology while safeguarding Americans’ privacy rights. UAS hold tremendous potential to keep the public safe, create lasting jobs, boost local economies and further advance the U.S. as a leader in technology and innovation. The Aerospace States Association recognizes the potential impact of the UAS industry for state economies and has been an advocate for keeping the U.S. competitive in aviation innovation. AUVSI looks forward to contributing to this conversation and continuing its work with a variety of stakeholders to safely and responsibly advance UAS technology and unlock the virtually limitless potential it has for both our society and our economy.”
 
Many states have begun drafting legislation to address the privacy concerns related to UAS. In its press release, ASA stated the association, along with CSG and NCSL, wants to give thorough, thoughtful consideration to all sides of the issues to develop suggested legislation for consideration by the states.
 
UAS privacy stakeholders including the following associations along with academics specializing in privacy matters have been asked to submit their suggestions for state privacy legislation to an independent law firm, Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, by 1 June for consideration by leaders of state government associations.
 
Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC)
Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF)
Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA)
National Sheriff’s Association (NSA)
International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP)
Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA)
 
Stakeholders have been asked to address civil, commercial and personal use of UAS and submit their views on the “assumption of privacy” in UAS use. A stakeholder roundtable will be held in Washington, D.C., on 14 August 2013 to discuss the draft suggestions for state privacy legislation developed from this process.

Opening Statement of AUVSI's Michael Toscano during Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on UAS, Law Enforcement and Privacy 
20 March 2013

On 20 March, AUVSI President & CEO Michael Toscano gave testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee during the hearing "The Future of Drones in America: Law Enforcement and Privacy Considerations"

Chairman Leahy and Ranking Member Grassley, I want to thank you and the rest of the Members of the Judiciary Committee for inviting me to testify here today. 

My organization, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International – or AUVSI – is the world's largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community. We have more than 7,500 members, including more than 6,300 members in the United States. The industry is at the forefront of a technology that will not only benefit society, but the U.S. economy, as well. Earlier this month, my organization released a study, which found the unmanned aircraft industry is poised to help create 70,000 new jobs and $13.6 billion in economic impact in the first three years following the integration of unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. 

However, the industry fully understands the technology is new to many Americans, and their opinions are being formed by what they see in the news. Today’s hearing is an excellent opportunity to address some misconceptions about the technology and discuss how it will actually be used domestically.
 
You have probably noticed that I do not use the term “drone.” The industry refers to the technology as unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, because they are more than just a pilotless vehicle. A UAS also includes the technology on the ground, with a human at the controls. As I like to say, there is nothing unmanned about an unmanned system. 

The term “drone” also carries with it a hostile connotation and does not reflect how UAS are actually being used domestically. UAS are used to perform dangerous and difficult tasks safely and efficiently. They were used to assess the flooding of the Red River in the upper Midwest. They were used to help battle California wildfires. And they are being used to study everything from hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, tornadoes in the Great Plains, and volcanoes in Hawaii. 

Unlike military UAS, the systems most likely be used by public safety agencies are small systems, many weighing less than 5 pounds, with limited flight duration. As for weaponization, it is a non-starter. The FAA prohibits deploying weapons on civil aircraft. And for the record: AUVSI does not support the weaponization of civil UAS.
 
I also want to correct the misperception there is no regulation of domestic UAS. The FAA strictly regulates who, where, when, and why unmanned aircraft may be flown. If public entities want to fly UAS, they must obtain a Certificate of Authorization or COA from the FAA. UAS are generally flown within line of sight of the operator, lower than 400 feet, and during daylight hours. It is also currently a violation of FAA regulations to fly a UAS for commercial purposes.
 
As we focus on the use of UAS by law enforcement, it is important to recognize the robust legal framework already in place, rooted in the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution and decades of case law, which regulates how law enforcement uses any technology – whether it is unmanned aircraft, manned aircraft, thermal imaging, GPS, or cell phones.
 
Safeguarding people’s privacy is important to my industry, as well. Last year, AUVSI published a Code of Conduct explicitly directing users to respect individual privacy. AUVSI also endorsed guidelines published by the International Association of Chiefs of Police for the use of unmanned aircraft by law enforcement. These guidelines were not only praised by our industry, but the ACLU as well. AUVSI strongly opposes any misuse of UAS technology. Just like with any technology, those who abuse it should be held accountable.
 
In conclusion, AUVSI believes all stakeholders can work together to advance this technology in a thoughtful way that recognizes the benefits and fuels job creation, while protecting Americans’ safety, as well as their rights. Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.

AUVSI Study Finds Unmanned Aircraft Industry Poised to Create 70,000 New Jobs in the U.S. in Three Years
New Study Finds Enormous Job Creation Potential Following Integration of Unmanned Aircraft into the National Airspace
12 March 2013

Today, AUVSI unveiled a new study, which finds that the unmanned aircraft industry is poised to create more than 70,000 new American jobs in the first three years following the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into U.S. national airspace system (NAS). Integration is scheduled to take place in 2015. Beyond the first three years, the study projects that more than 100,000 new jobs will be created by 2025.

“This is an incredibly exciting time for an industry developing technology that will benefit society, as well as the economy,” said Michael Toscano, president & CEO of AUVSI.  “In recent years, unmanned aircraft technology has grown remarkably and is already proving useful in a range of domestic applications. Integrating UAS into the national airspace will lead to new and expanded uses, which means the creation of quality, high-paying American jobs.”

Specifically, the study finds:

• In the first three years following integration into the NAS, more than 70,000 new jobs will be created. 

• In the first three years following integration, the total economic impact stemming from the integration is projected to surpass $13.6 billion and will grow sustainably for the foreseeable future, cumulating in more than $82.1 billion in impact between 2015 and 2025. Economic impact includes the monies that flow to manufacturers and suppliers from the sale of new products as well as the taxes and monies that flow into communities and support the local businesses.

• The study projects integration will lead to 103,776 new jobs nationally by 2025. Many of these jobs are portable and will gravitate toward states with favorable regulatory structures and infrastructure. Future events – such as the establishment of FAA Test Sites – will ultimately determine where many of these new jobs will flow.

• Additional economic benefit will be seen through tax revenue to the states, which will total more than $482 million in the first decade following the integration. 

• Every year that integration is delayed, the United States loses more than $10 billion in potential economic impact. This translates to a loss of $27.6 million per day that UAS are not integrated into the NAS.

The complete study, including state-by-state breakdowns of economic impact projections, is available at http://www.auvsi.org/econreport.

“While we project more than 100,000 new jobs by 2025, states that create favorable regulatory and business environments for the industry and the technology will likely siphon jobs away from states that do not,” wrote the report’s author, Darryl Jenkins, a past professor at George Washington University and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. 

Nationally, the precision agriculture industry is expected to be the largest market for UAS technology, the AUVSI study finds. UAS will help farmers monitor crops and distribute pesticides, which could not only help improve efficiency, but also reduce the total amount of pesticides sprayed, saving money and reducing environmental impact. The public safety sector is another area that will benefit from the tremendous potential for UAS technology. UAS have the capability to help police and firefighters— who put themselves into harm’s way every day to protect the communities they serve — do their job safely and efficiently.

The report was commissioned by AUVSI and developed by Jenkins, an aviation industry economist with more than 30 years of experience. Mr. Jenkins is the author of the Handbook of Airline Economics and previously served as the director of the Aviation Institute at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. 


AUVSI Joins New Coalition to Promote Innovation, Jobs and Safety
Virginia Poised to Attract FAA Test Site
 4 March 2013

The Virginia Technology Alliance for Public Safety (VATAPS) announced its official launch as a grassroots coalition promoting the economic development and public safety benefits of new technology in the field of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The organization will highlight new jobs and investments associated with encouraging responsible research, development and testing of UAS in the Commonwealth. 

“This is an opportunity to bring jobs, innovation and more technology to Virginia at a time when the federal government is cutting other programs,” says Michael Toscano, AUVSI president & CEO and member of the alliance. “These are good paying jobs that will save lives, save money as well as spawn research programs at Virginia’s colleges and universities.” A soon to be released study conducted by AUVSI indicates Virginia could see 2,380 new jobs and $460 million in economic investment if the state embraces programs to research, develop and test UAS. The study indicates many of those jobs would pay starting salaries in the $55,000 range. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced plans to designate six test sites for development of UAS. Virginia is currently pursuing an FAA designation as part of a coalition lead by Virginia Tech. 

The formation of VATAPS follows the passage of legislation by the Virginia General Assembly in the form of House Bill 2012 (HB2012) and Senate Bill 1331 (SB 1331), which place a two year-moratorium on the use of UAS. The legislation allows an exception for search and rescue operations, but fails to recognize other public safety applications and embrace the economic benefits of promoting responsible UAS- related research and development in the state. 

“The advantages and uses of unmanned aircraft systems for public safety are greatly misunderstood and often falsely associated with military drones,” says Robert Fitzgerald, president of Bosh Global Services in Newport News and member of the alliance. “We are developing small, lightweight UAS that can aid in assessing natural disasters, fires, hazardous spills and other dangerous situations remotely without putting additional lives at risk.”  

“The safety of public officers in Virginia and across the country is of paramount importance. There are examples where officers have been endangered but could have been protected by the use of UAVs,” says John Jones, executive director of the Virginia Sheriffs Association and member of the alliance. “Any Virginia law on UAVs needs to address existing emergency situations and other non-emergency applications. It is imperative that Governor Bob McDonnell take a very close look at this issue and its implications before he agrees to sign the bill into law.” 

Toscano adds, “The six FAA test sites for unmanned aircraft are expected to be an economic windfall for the states that are selected. But states that are advancing overly-restrictive legislation to limit the use of this technology are hurting their chances of attracting high-quality jobs. There is no reason we cannot responsibly advance this technology while simultaneously ensuring Americans’ rights are protected. We would encourage officials in all states, and especially those seeking test sites, to work collaboratively to ensure that legislation doesn’t undermine the job creation potential of unmanned aircraft or their state’s ability to compete for a test site.” 

Charter members of VATAPS include aeronautics technology companies along with public safety and law enforcement agencies. VATAPS plans to launch an educational awareness and public information campaign as it recruits additional members. 

AUVSI Statement on FAA’s Request for Proposals to Receive an FAA UAS Test Site
14 February 2013

Today, AUVSI President & CEO Michael Toscano released the following statement on the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) request for proposals to develop and test unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) at six sites around the country:

“Today’s announcement by the FAA is an important milestone on the path toward unlocking the potential of unmanned aircraft, and creating thousands of American jobs. Whether it is helping search and rescue teams, assisting in disaster response, or aiding scientific research, unmanned aircraft extend the human reach and allow us to accomplish dangerous and difficult tasks safely and efficiently. 

“States across the country have been eager to receive this FAA designation because they recognize the incredible economic and job creation potential it would bring with it. While we would prefer the FAA not limit the number of test sites, we applaud the agency for finally taking this important step, which will help create jobs and ensure the U.S. remains a global leader in aviation innovation.”

The FAA’s announcement, which can be found here announcement, is part of the process to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System by 2015 as required by the FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which was signed into law on  14 Feb. 2012. AUVSI does not endorse any individual test site proposal.
  
With the demand for UAS on the rise, the industry recently released a Code of Conduct for UAS manufacturers and operators to ensure the safe, professional and respectful use of unmanned aircraft. The International Association of Chiefs of Police also released a set of guidelines last year for the use of unmanned aircraft, which addressed issues such as search warrants and image retention, and encouraged community engagement. 

AUVSI Chairman Cautions Va. Governor on Pending UAS Moratorium Legislation
8 February 2013

AUVSI Chairman Peter Bale wrote a letter to Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell regarding pending legislation that would impose a moratorium on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles by public agencies in Virginia. In the letter, Bale writes how the proposed moratorium will not only deny public safety officers the use of potentially life-saving technology, but also hurt Virginia's economy and potentially impede scientific endeavors at Virginia universities. Read the text of the letter is below.

Dear Governor McDonnell,

I would like to express serious concern with two pieces of pending legislation, Virginia House Bill 2012 and Virginia Senate Bill 1331, which would impose a two-year moratorium on the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) by police and government agencies in Virginia.  As Chairman of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the world's largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to advancing unmanned systems, I believe this proposed moratorium will not only hinder the ability of UAS to assist police, firefighters and other first responders in keeping Virginia communities safe, but also jeopardize current and future manufacturing jobs in the Commonwealth in the rapidly growing unmanned systems sector. 

As you are well aware, public safety agencies see tremendous benefits in using UAS. They have the capability to help police and firefighters, who put themselves into harm’s way every day in order to protect the communities they serve, do their job safely and efficiently. A UAS flying over a structure fire can provide firefighters with critical situational awareness, while reducing the danger to which they are exposed. A UAS flying over a wooded area can help police searching for a missing child quickly, when time is of the essence. And in times of tight budgets, UAS can provide the same capability of a manned helicopter at a fraction of the operational cost, saving taxpayer dollars. 

However, the proposed moratorium would hinder these public safety agencies from using UAS. 

I am also greatly concerned about the impact of this legislation on Virginia’s economy. A forthcoming study commissioned by my organization projects that in the first three years following the integration of UAS into the national airspace, Virginia stands to gain 2380 new jobs and more than $460 million in economic impact. 

Additionally, as you know, Virginia is interested in joining Maryland and New Jersey in putting forth a joint-bid for one of six test sites designated by the Federal Aviation Administration for the development of UAS. These test sites would most certainly be job creators and bring economic activity to the Commonwealth. However, if the moratorium were to become law, the plan for a test site, and the economic benefit that would come with it, will most certainly be in jeopardy. 

Not only would future job prospects dim, but current businesses and those they employ would be at risk. More than 50 companies that manufacture UAS have a footprint in Virginia. A moratorium would create an unfriendly environment for these companies, which as a result might look to take their business, as well as jobs, elsewhere.

If the moratorium passes, scientific research could join public safety as a casualty. Right now, students at Virginia Tech are using UAS to research the spread of disease among plants and animals. Students at the University of Virginia are using 3D-printing to create an inexpensive UAS that could be quickly produced and deployed to respond to emergencies. These and other research pursuits by public institutions could be curbed by a moratorium.

As Governor, you have been an outstanding advocate for the potential of UAS. We greatly appreciate your support for the advancement of UAS technology as a tool to save time, save money and even save lives. We ask that you do everything you can to oppose this moratorium, which will hinder a remarkable technology and everyone who might one day be helped by it. 

Sincerely,
Peter Bale
Chairman
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International


AUVSI Congratulates Michael Huerta on his FAA Administrator Confirmation
3 January 2013

AUVSI President & CEO Michael Toscano today congratulated Michael Huerta on his confirmation as the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“For more than a year, Michael Huerta has led the FAA admirably as acting administrator, and we are pleased to see Congress make his appointment official,” Toscano said. “These next several years are important ones for the FAA, as the agency moves forward with the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS) and continues to develop the NextGen air traffic control system.”

Toscano said, “This is a critical time for the FAA and the aerospace industry, and it is important that the FAA have a permanent leader to advance these priorities, especially the integration of UAS. This technology holds tremendous potential to save money, save time and, most importantly, save lives. Strong and clear leadership is needed to make sure that the process stays on track, and Huerta’s confirmation is a step in the right direction.”

“We look forward to working with Administrator Huerta in the coming months and years to advance these innovations in a safe manner, in keeping with the FAA’s primary mission. We are confident that under Administrator Huerta’s leadership, the FAA will continue to ensure that the United States aerospace industry stays at the forefront of aviation safety and technological advances,” Toscano said.


AUVSI to FAA: Focus on your Mission, Proceed with UAS Integration
28 November 2011 

Selection of six UAS test sites more than three months delayed…and counting

AUVSI Chairman of the Board Peter Bale and President & CEO Michael Toscano today requested the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) focus on its commitment to innovative partnerships and proceed with the integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS). The selection of six UAS test sites has been delayed by more than three months so far, despite a congressionally mandated timetable for the site selection process and overall integration.

Recently, the FAA has begun citing privacy issues as a reason for delaying UAS integration. However, the primary mission of the FAA is safety. The establishment of UAS test sites will help the FAA establish safety criteria for UAS, which is a completely separate issue from privacy concerns. Yet, in a letter to Rep. Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) earlier this month, Acting FAA Admistrator Michael Huerta wrote that the FAA must fulfill its obligations in a manner that, among other goals, “addresses privacy issues.”

AUVSI Chairman of the Board Peter Bale and President & CEO Michael Toscano today released the following statement:

“Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) hold tremendous potential to keep the public safe, create lasting jobs, boost local economies and further advance the U.S. as a leader in technology and innovation. That’s why, in February of this year, Congress required the FAA to safely integrate UAS into the U.S. airspace by September 2015.

“Congress had the foresight to lay out a multi-year timetable for the integration of UAS, so all stakeholders would have time to work collaboratively to advance this technology in a safe and responsible manner. The FAA should adhere to the will of Congress as well as focus on the agency’s stated mission of providing ‘the safest, most efficient aerospace system in the world.’

“AUVSI and its members are committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure privacy concerns are addressed while advancing this beneficial technology, and work is ongoing in this area. To date, AUVSI has met with a nearly a dozen privacy and civil liberties organizations, in addition to over 100 congressional offices, and AUVSI recently adopted an industry code of conduct that addresses privacy.

“There is also already a growing consensus among law enforcement agencies about the proper use of UAS. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) adopted UAS guidelines that have won praise from the ACLU. Three other law enforcement associations subsequently endorsed the IACP guidelines.

“As an industry, we support a continued, civil dialogue on privacy, but any such conversations should take place concurrent with the integration. The selection process for the six test sites are a separate issue and should be treated as such. Meanwhile, the FAA should adhere to its mission and do what it does best – focus on the safety of the U.S. airspace – while other, more appropriate institutions consider privacy issues.

“We request the FAA to immediately announce its UAS test site selection process to move UAS integration forward without further delay.”

Link to the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus Letter
Link to AUVSI’s previous letter to the FAA on the site selection delay


AUVSI Launches New Industry Career Center
19 November 2012

 

AUVSI launched a new industry Career Center today. AUVSI’s Career Center is the leading employment resource for job-seekers and employers in the unmanned systems industry. Browse job listings or post a position today!

AUVSI Corporate Members can post unlimited jobs in the new career center for free!


AUVSI Launches Public Education Website to Highlight Benefits of Unmanned Systems
2 November 2012

Today AUVSI launched a public education website, www.increasinghumanpotential.org, to highlight the valuable and endless benefits of all unmanned systems and robotics.
 
The website shows how the unmanned systems and robotics industry literally increases human potential by working for the human in dull, dirty, dangerous and difficult tasks.
 
The site promotes the use of unmanned systems and robotics in the following categories:
 
By Land, Air and Sea
Jobs and Economy
Enhancing Public Safety
Mitigating and Monitoring Disasters
Helping the Environment
Fostering Education and Learning
Increasing Efficiency in Agriculture
FAA Flight Restrictions
 
Visit www.increasinghumanpotential.org today to learn more about the endless applications of unmanned systems and robotics.

AUVSI's Executive Vice President Gretchen West Testifies at Rep. Poe's Field Hearing on Privacy, Spoofing
25 October 2012

AUVSI's Executive Vice President Gretchen West testified at Rep. Ted Poe's (R-Texas) field hearing at Rice University on UAS privacy issues and spoofing.

Read West's opening statement:

Congressman Poe, I want to thank you, and the rest of the members for the opportunity to participate in today’s forum on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). I also want to thank Rice University for hosting this event, and congratulate President Leebron for his school’s prowess in last year’s NASA design showcase. In this prestigious  event, Rice students won top awards for designing and building unmanned aircraft systems; this is one example of significant contributions American universities are making to the dynamic global aerospace industry.

There is a lot I would like to say about the tremendous potential of this technology, but before I do, let me first say a few words about the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International – or AUVSI.

AUVSI is the world's largest non-profit organization devoted exclusively to advancing the unmanned systems and robotics community. We have more than 6,300 members in the United States, including 225 here in Texas, such as BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin, L-3 Communications, Raytheon and Rockwell Collins. Many other members are small businesses that support and supply this high-tech industry.

For years, AUVSI has been a leading advocate for the safe integration of unmanned aircraft into the United States National Airspace System. That’s why we were delighted earlier this year when Congress recognized what those of us in the industry have known for a long time – that unmanned aircraft bring a host of positive benefits for our society and hold the remarkable potential to create jobs.

Whether it is helping search and rescue teams find a lost child, providing agricultural benefits or helping to fight wildfires, the applications of unmanned aircraft in the United States are virtually limitless. The benefits of UAS aren’t just theoretical, however; the technology is already demonstrating its value in the United States, and its value to Texas. Let me provide just a few examples:

• U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) currently uses unmanned aircraft to monitor the U.S. border, including the 1,241 mile border that Texas shares with Mexico. According to the CBP, unmanned aircraft in 2011 assisted with the seizure of thousands of pounds of narcotics and the apprehension of dozens of individuals taking part in illegal activities along the border.

• Texas is home to some of the world’s largest energy companies, and several – including Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips – want to use UAS to more cost-effectively monitor critical energy infrastructure.

• Around June of each year, Texas and the Gulf Coast brace for hurricane season. Now, researchers at NASA are flying unmanned aircraft into and above hurricanes, something which is often too dangerous or difficult for manned aviation, to study how these storms form and develop to better predict hurricane tracks and make earlier evacuation decisions. As a result of UAS, Texas residents along the Gulf Coast will be much safer in the years to come.

These are just a few examples of the real-world applications of UAS. And there are many, many more.

In addition to the societal benefits of unmanned aircraft, the expansion of this technology will help drive economic growth in Texas and around the country. A 2010 study by our organization found that the integration of UAS into national airspace could add at least 23,000 new jobs by 2025, translating into roughly $107 million in wages each year.

The state of Texas, with an already thriving aerospace industry, is well positioned to reap these economic benefits. Texas has the human capital, with more than 200,000 aerospace and aviation industry workers currently employed at 1,665 companies. Meanwhile, the state is already hard at work attracting new aerospace jobs and investment including jobs in unmanned systems. The Texas Enterprise Fund, spearheaded by Gov. Rick Perry, has infused more than $44 million into aerospace-related projects since the fund was established in 2003.

As this technology advances, we are also mindful that unmanned aircraft must be operated in a safe and responsible manner. Safety has always been a top priority for our industry. In fact, safety is also one of three main pillars of the industry’s new Code of Conduct, which was published this summer. We are in regular contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and we have met with, and continue to maintain an open dialogue with, representatives from the pilot community, air traffic controllers and others with an interest in aviation safety.

We also steadfastly support Americans’ right to privacy. And just like other new technologies such as cell phones, GPS and even social networking websites like “Facebook,” a reasonable conversation about the implications of a new technology is entirely appropriate. That is why AUVSI has fostered a dialogue with privacy advocates and civil liberties organizations to discuss how we can ensure Americans’ rights are protected as the use of this technology advances. In July, AUVSI endorsed federal privacy legislation that reaffirms citizens’ Fourth Amendment rights with regard to the use of UAS. Our Code of Conduct also articulates our commitment to respecting individuals’ privacy.

As we embark on this discussion of law enforcement’s use of unmanned aircraft, it is important to emphasize that law enforcement already uses existing and developing technologies on manned aircraft. Unmanned aircraft simply offer a new platform for these technologies. I would also like to take a minute to recognize and applaud the proactive steps law enforcement officials have taken to ensure the safe and responsible use of UAS. Notably, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) last summer released its own detailed guidelines for UAS operations, which were quickly adopted by several other law enforcement organizations. The guidelines – which address privacy, the use of warrants and data retention – were not only praised by our industry, but the ACLU as well.

Law enforcement entities are already demonstrating a commitment to safety and privacy. Here again, Texas is leading the way.

Less than 300 miles from where we sit today, the Arlington Texas Police Department is developing what could one day be the model for law enforcement UAS programs across the country. The department has created a comprehensive framework for UAS operations that includes pre-flight checklists, flight and maintenance logs, training protocols and standard operating procedures for all UAS flights. Arlington plans to use UAS to survey multi-car crashes on interstate highways, to reduce the time officers spend roadside, cut down on pollution and clear congestion more quickly.

Clearly, we are just beginning to realize and unlock the tremendous potential of this technology. Unmanned aircraft extend our human potential and allow us to execute dangerous or difficult tasks safely and efficiently, saving time, saving money and, most importantly, saving lives.

As an industry, we believe all stakeholders can work together to advance this technology in a thoughtful way that recognizes the benefits and creates jobs while protecting Americans’ safety, as well as their individual rights to privacy.

Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.



AUVSI Welcomes Formation of Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus
28 September 2012

Sens. Inhofe, Manchin Form Bipartisan Caucus to Educate Senators about the Potential Applications of Unmanned Systems
 
AUVSI welcomed the announcement from Capitol Hill that Sens. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) formed the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus. The mission of the bipartisan caucus will be to educate senators and staffers on the capabilities of unmanned systems and work closely together to best shape the unmanned systems policymaking process.
 
“I would like to commend Senators Inhofe and Manchin for their leadership and commitment in establishing the caucus, which will enable AUVSI to work with the Senate and stakeholders on the important issues that face the unmanned systems community as the expanded use of the technology transitions to the civil and commercial markets,” said AUVSI President & CEO Michael Toscano. “It is our hope to establish the same open dialogue with the Senate caucus as we have for the past three years with the House Unmanned Systems Caucus.”
 
Unmanned systems extend human potential, allowing us to execute dangerous or difficult tasks safely and efficiently. Whether bolstering search and rescue efforts; studying and aiding in natural and man-made disasters; or supporting security missions and protecting the environment, unmanned systems are capable of saving time, saving money and, more importantly, saving lives.
 
“I am enthusiastic about the announcement that Senator Manchin (D-W.V.) and I were able to introduce and will co-chair the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus,” said Sen. Inhofe. “The caucus will help educate senators and staff on the importance of all unmanned systems, including air, land and sea-based platforms. Federal policies and legislation relating to unmanned systems are still in its infancy and concerns of the platforms need to be addressed. This caucus will help develop and direct responsible policy to best serve the interests of U.S. national defense and emergency response, and work to address any concerns from senators, staff and their constituents.  I hope that all of our colleagues in the Senate will join and participate in this bipartisan caucus.”
 
Over the next decade, there will be an exponential growth in unmanned systems technology and operations. Congress will play a critical role in writing and passing laws that will set policy, direct oversight and provide direction for unmanned systems integration, development and utilization. The Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems Caucus will serve as a venue to discuss issues.
 
“The increased use of unmanned aerial systems carries great potential – and great risk,” Sen. Manchin said. “It’s important for all of us to understand how we can use this advancing technology to strengthen our national security and improve our ability to respond in case of natural or man-made disasters, while at the same time ensuring the privacy of all of our law-abiding American citizens. I am so appreciative of Senator Inhofe’s work on this issue, and I look forward to working together in a bipartisan way to keep our colleagues updated on the emerging policy issues involving this technology.”


AUVSI Holds Largest Gathering of Unmanned Systems, Robotics Technology in the World
20 August 2012

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International turned the Mandalay Bay Convention Center into a robotics playground 6-9 August, when it brought together the largest display of unmanned systems and robotics technology in the world.

With more than 550 exhibitors and 7,400 attendees, AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2012 highlighted the future of unmanned systems in military, civilian and commercial applications.

Highlights from the conference include affirmation for unmanned systems in life saving applications in the military; a commitment to integrate unmanned systems into the U.S. National Airspace System; and a pledge from the industry to work with government, civil liberties groups and others to ensure integration is done safely with respect to privacy.

Day one of the convention opened with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Acting Administrator Michael Huerta highlighting the progress his agency has made in working to integrate unmanned air vehicles into the national airspace.

Part of the framework to integrate UAS is moving ahead, he said, with the FAA due to soon ask for proposals to manage the upcoming six test sites still currently under selection.

“We need to make sure we use these sites to obtain the very best data that we possibly can,” he said.

The agency has also streamlined its certificate of authorization process, with the average non-emergency COA approval down to 60 days, and the FAA now provides two-year authorizations instead of one. This expedited process has been possible due to an internal reorganization that moved all the FAA’s unmanned work into its new Unmanned Aviation Systems Integration Office.

Though the agency has come a long way, Huerta said it still has more to go.

“We need to change the way we do business as well,” he said.

Huerta highlighted three core areas the FAA needs to work on: make the airspace system smarter and safer, bring technology benefits to the users, and task employees to think creatively and innovatively in a tight budget.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to move integration for all UAS forward, but I’m very, very optimistic that we will get there.”

Day two kicked off with an affirmation of the life saving capabilities of unmanned systems when Navy Seal Lt. Cmdr Rorke Denver addressed attendees.

Denver has seen action in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America, and has made use of unmanned aircraft and unmanned underwater vehicles.

“The fact of the matter is … I have been a benefactor from the technologies and the things that have been developed” by the people in the room, he said.

He has thrown a Raven into the air, similar to a scene in the movie, and “I’ve had ScanEagle, Tiger Shark, all kinds of Predators above my head helping leverage those technologies in a way that protected my guys, it made us win on the battlefield when we might not have otherwise.”

He said he also made use of an unmanned underwater vehicle off the coast of Monrovia. 

“We’re in there with these lead lines and slates doing this classical SEAL UDT mission and this EMD guy comes walking up” with a vehicle that looks like a torpedo.

It was an unmanned underwater vehicle, “somebody probably made it in here,” he said. “You throw this thing in the water and it’s got side-scan radar … an hour later it pops onto the surface, we plug it into a laptop and up pops a map” and the team was able to plot its path.

“Just remarkable technology,” he said.

Chairman's Address

Finally, AUVSI Chairman of the Board Peter Bale promised attendees that the industry will, in time, figure out how to make these advances and respect all values.

“I don’t want to look back on the process of figuring this out and have regrets that we learned lessons with blood or scandal that could have been avoided,” Bale said. “The technology has arrived and is ready. That means it is time to figure out the public safety and civil rights issues.”

Bale went on to say, “The FAA test ranges and the window until September of 2015 represent our chance to get this right on the front end. None of us, in or out of government, are quite sure how this process will unfold but I am pledging this organization’s support and asking for your personal and professional assistance in answering these questions.  

“Parallel with the FAA test range process that figures out the flight safety procedures and standards, I want to ask the law enforcement, criminal justice and civil rights communities to use these three years to help sort out the civil rights issues. I am pledging myself and this organization to engage in a serious dialogue with any and all concerned.

“Politics does not have to be zero sum. This is not a choice between embracing technology or respecting deeply cherished values — we can do both. I look forward to the process and let’s get it right. There is too much at stake not to.”

SAVE THE DATE: AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems 2013 will be held in Washington, DC at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 12-15 August 2013.


 

AUVSI Applauds Police Chiefs for Adopting Guidelines for the Safe and Responsible Use of Unmanned Aircraft
16 August 2012

Today, AUVSI applauded the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) for adopting guidelines for the use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). The guidelines provide law enforcement agencies an outline of how to use UAS safely and responsibly, and with respect to individuals’ privacy. The adoption of the IACP guidelines follows the recent adoption of AUVSI’s “Code of Conduct” for those who design, test and operate UAS. 

“We applaud the IACP for putting forward these guidelines as part of law enforcement’s simultaneous commitment to protect communities, as well as the rights of the members of those communities,” said Michael Toscano, president and CEO of AUVSI. “Unmanned aircraft could help law enforcement agencies with missions such as search and rescue or crime scene photography, often at a lower cost than manned aircraft. The more the law enforcement community, privacy advocates, government and other stakeholders work together to address issues such as privacy, the faster we can unlock the incredible potential of unmanned aircraft to help save time, save money and most importantly, save lives.”

The IACP guidelines, which can be found here, cover community engagement, system requirements, operational procedures and image retention. They direct law enforcement agencies to engage with the community, specifically their governing body and civil liberties advocates, about how UAS will be used and protections put in place to uphold citizens’ rights. The guidelines also encourage notifying those living and working in the vicinity of aircraft operations, when possible. The guidelines call for a transparent implementation process for agencies desiring UAS, including a period of public comment.

The guidelines include specific steps law enforcement should take to respect the privacy of individuals:
• Where there are specific and articulable grounds to believe that the (unmanned aircraft) will collect evidence of criminal wrongdoing and if the (unmanned aircraft) will intrude upon reasonable expectations of privacy, the agency will secure a search warrant prior to conducting the flight. 
• Unless required as evidence of a crime, as part of an on-going investigation, for training, or required by law, images captured by a UAS should not be retained by the agency.
• Unless exempt by law, retained images should be open for public inspection.

A poll conducted earlier this year by Monmouth University found strong public support for law enforcement’s use of UAS in search and rescue missions, tracking runaway criminals, protecting U.S. borders and controlling illegal immigration. Currently, however, fewer than 3% of law enforcement units have aviation assets because of the high operating costs of manned aircraft. UAS provide a cost-effective alternative. The Sheriff’s Office in Mesa County, Colo., operates an unmanned aircraft at the cost of $3.36 per hour, compared to $250 to $600 per hour for a manned aircraft. The purchase price of a UAS is also significantly less than a manned aircraft, costing about the price of a patrol car with standard police gear. The vast majority of UAS currently flying in the U.S. are small models that weigh less than 25 lbs and can fit in the trunk of a car.

Read more about how law enforcement agencies around the country are using UAS:
The New Eye in the Sky over Mesa County – 9News, Denver
Arlington PD Testing Unmanned Aircraft – KXAS, Dallas
Drones tested as tools for police and firefighters Los Angeles Times


AUVSI Announces Newly Elected Board of Directors
31 July 2012

AUVSI announces its newly elected leaders on its Board of Directors.

Officers elected for the 2012-2013 term are Peter Bale, chairman; John Lademan, executive vice chairman; Ralph Alderson, first vice chairman and Joe Brannan, treasurer. Additionally, John Lambert continues as immediate past chairman for this term.

Newly elected to the AUVSI Board of Directors:
Jason Grabinsky
Heather Griffith
Steve Pennington
Chad Partridge
Dave Seagle
Michelle Kalphat

Continuing AUVSI Board of Directors:
Virginia Young
Grant Begley
Matt England
Gene Fraser
Stephen Newton
David Place
Peter Smith
Tim Heely
Neil Hunter
Rick Lynch
Mark Patterson

“These officers and directors represent a wide range of companies and institutions in the global unmanned systems and robotics community, bringing expertise in technology, applications and markets related to this rapidly emerging industry,” said AUVSI Chairman of Board of Directors Peter Bale. “We congratulate those elected and look forward to their service on the board.”

The new term of office for the board of directors starts at AUVSI’s Unmanned Systems North America 2012 in Las Vegas, 6-9 August, where more than 8,000 attendees from 40 countries will see 550+ exhibits and participate in 100+ educational sessions, showcasing the present and future capabilities of unmanned systems and robotics technology.


Unmanned Aircraft Industry Backs Privacy Legislation
By Melanie Hinton
19 July 2012

Today, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) announced support for legislation to reaffirm individuals' Constitutional protections against unreasonable searches. An amendment included in the Department of Defense Appropriations bill, introduced by Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-N.J., only allows funding for the operation of UAS "in accordance" with the Fourth Amendment.

"The unmanned aircraft systems industry strongly supports Rep. LoBiondo's amendment included in the Defense Appropriations bill, which reaffirms Americans' Constitutional rights. Unmanned aircraft can help our police, fire fighters and first responders save time, save money and most importantly, save lives, while fully respecting Americans' rights to privacy. This amendment is right inline with our commitment to the safe and responsible integration of unmanned aircraft into our skies," said Michael Toscano, president & CEO of AUVSI.

Earlier this year, Congress passed, and the president signed into law, legislation requiring the Federal Aviation Administration to plan for the integration of unmanned aircraft into the National Airspace System by 2015. Since then, AUVSI has met with a variety of stakeholders, including nearly a dozen privacy advocates and civil rights groups, to listen to their concerns and begin working toward solutions.

The industry's backing of the privacy legislation is just the latest example of its commitment to the safe and responsible integration of UAS into the National Airspace System. The industry recently released a Code of Conduct for UAS manufacturers and operators to ensure the safe, professional and respectful use of unmanned aircraft. The Code of Conduct set forth guidelines to provide AUVSI members - and those who design, test and operate UAS for public and civil use - with recommendations for their safe, non-intrusive operation, including respect for the privacy of individuals.

"Like with any merging technology, it is important that a commitment to safety, professionalism and respect is part of the foundation of its use. The Code of Conduct reflects how the rights of individuals and the safety of all users of civil airspace are our top priority as we work to unlock the incredible potential this technology holds," Toscano said.


AUVSI Submits Testimony for Congressional Subcommittee Hearing on Using UAS in the Homeland
18 July 2012

On 18 July, AUVSI released prepared testimony from Michael Toscano for the House Homeland Security – Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management hearing, “Using Unmanned Aerial Systems Within the Homeland: Security Game Changer? ” scheduled for Thursday, 19 July at 9:30 a.m.

In the testimony, Mr. Toscano discusses the many potential uses for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), and the industry’s efforts to ensure a safe and responsible integration of UAS into the national airspace. The testimony lays out the UAS industry’s commitment to safety, highlighted by the industry’s recently released “Code of Conduct,” as well as the technological advancements to help ensure their safe operation.


AUVSI Releases "Code of Conduct" for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Operations
Promotes Safe, Responsible Use as Integration into Airspace Proceeds
02 July 2012

AUVSI published the “Unmanned Aircraft System Operations Industry Code of Conduct” www.auvsi.org/conduct, a set of guidelines to provide AUVSI members – and those who design, test and operate UAS for public and civil use – with recommendations for their safe, non-intrusive operation.

Central to the “Code of Conduct” is the need for “safety, professionalism and respect” in all uses of UAS. This code is meant to provide UAS industry manufacturers and users a convenient checklist for operations and a means to demonstrate their obligation to supporting the growth of the industry in a safe and responsible manner. 

“The emergence of unmanned aircraft systems represents one of the most significant advancements to aviation, the scientific community, and public service since the beginning of flight,” said Michael Toscano, President and CEO of AUVSI. “With a commitment to safety, professionalism and respect, we can ensure unmanned aircraft are integrated responsibly into civil airspace.”

The guidelines recommend when and by whom UAS should be flown, to minimize risk. They commit to complying with all federal, state and local laws and cooperating with authorities at all levels. The guidelines also commit to respecting other users of the airspace, the privacy of individuals, the concerns of the public and improving public awareness of UAS.

“By proactively adhering to these guidelines, we want to demonstrate how the rights of individuals and the safety of all users of civil airspace are our top priority, as we work to unlock the incredible potential this technology holds,” Toscano said.

The FAA Modernization and Reform Act signed into law on February 14, 2012, included a provision requiring the FAA to safely integrate UAS into the national airspace. The law created a number of deadlines for the FAA to meet on its way to the safe integration of UAS by September 2015.

Unmanned aircraft systems extend human potential, allowing individuals to execute dangerous and often difficult tasks safely and efficiently. Whether it is aiding search and rescue efforts, navigating through airspace too hazardous for manned vehicles, or furthering scientific research, UAS are capable of saving time, saving money and most importantly, saving lives.

To view the Code of Conduct, visit www.auvsi.org/conduct.




AUVSI Rejects Calls for Unlawful Destruction of Unmanned Aerial Systems

18 May 2012

Today, the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) released the following statement from President and CEO Michael Toscano in response to recent depictions in the media that put the unlawful destruction of unmanned aerial systems in a positive light:

“To advocate for people to shoot down any object from U.S. airspace is irresponsible, dangerous and unlawful. Unmanned aerial systems are being designed to serve the public good, such as helping search and rescue officers find missing children, monitor weather and wildlife, provide disaster relief and respond to emergencies, as they did in the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan last year. The myriad of important uses will be imperiled if they become targets. Meanwhile, the suggestion that Americans take up arms against unmanned aircraft also endangers citizens on the ground.

“AUVSI welcomes civil discussions about privacy and the proper uses of unmanned aircraft, but it cannot and does not condone violence against technology intended to keep citizens safe while saving taxpayer dollars.”

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer recently stated that unmanned aircraft should be banned entirely in the United States, and said that “I would predict — I’m not encouraging, but I would predict, the first guy who uses a Second Amendment weapon to bring down a drone that’s hovering over his house is gonna be a folk hero in this country.”
 
The NBC television show “Harry’s Law” also recently portrayed its main character shooting down a “drone” in just such a situation.


Under New Leadership, FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office Meets Its Deadline
by Timothy Adelman, Aviation Attorney 
14 May 2012

The FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office (formally the UAPO) and the Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice’s Aviation Technology Program (NIJ) have worked diligently over the past 18 months to identify the hurdles to public safety unmanned aircraft operations in the National Airspace System (NAS) and to provide solutions to those hurdles. With the help of the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, chaired by Reps. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), the FAA’s Reauthorization Bill provided language for a roadmap to lessen the hurdles associated with the deployment of small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) by public safety.

When the FAA’s Reauthorization Bill was signed into law by President Obama on 14 February 2012, the FAA was faced with a deadline to enter into agreements with appropriate government agencies to simplify the process for issuing Certificates of Waiver or Authorization (COAs) to operate sUAS public aircraft. While the UAS Integration Office had already been working on a solution in advance of the Bill, the 90-day deadline turned up the heat to get the solution completed. Under its new leadership by James Williams, head of the FAA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Office and in direct coordination with NIJ, the FAA has developed a streamlined COA process for public safety.

With more than 18,000 domestic law enforcement agencies in the United States and many more public safety agencies, including fire service and emergency response teams, the potential demand for aviation assets is high. Through various studies over the years, there are less than  400 law enforcement aviation units. In other words, less than 3% of all law enforcement organizations have aviation assets to support their daily operations. Why so few? Largely because of the cost and complexity of operating manned aircraft.

In 2007 the Bureau of Justice Statistics published a report that examined the use of aviation assets in large law enforcement organizations (100 officers or more). They identified 201 aviation units operating in 46 states. Those units spend more than $300 million in one year on aircraft purchases, leasing, financing, maintenance and fuel, an average of $1.5 million per aviation unit. While almost all law enforcement agencies would benefit from aviation units, not many can afford them.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) provide an affordable solution to those agencies that need “eyes in the sky" but don’t have the budget or for those agencies that need to supplement their current aviation units with more cost effective aircraft for specific missions. In December 2009, NIJ hosted a conference for all public safety agencies interested or currently using UAS. During that conference, the agencies identified the anticipated scenarios for which UAS could provide vital support: tactical teams, forensics, fire safety, high-risk warrants, marijuana eradication, photographing critical infrastructure, corrections, traffic for ingress/egress under special conditions, payload detection of HazMat, aid in evacuation after natural disasters, critical incidents, and post-event forensics.

Most domestic public safety agencies are looking for small UAS (sUAS) to provide immediate eyes in the sky in response to a defined incident. The anticipated use of sUAS does not include routine patrol, which would require flight for extended distances over an extended time period. Operations would occur within “defined incident perimeter” in close proximity to the individual controlling the aircraft on the ground and most operations would be for a relatively short duration, i.e. less than an hour. Therefore, the FAA's UAS Integration Office in collaboration with NIJ designed a solution that would permit the operation of sUAS in a less restrictive manner than current FAA policy.

While the COA process will continue, many of its barriers will be reduced. COAs will be available for operations within a defined incident perimeter throughout an agency’s jurisdiction. There will be no need to obtain an emergency COA for a specific mission. As long as the agency operates within its COA, it can fly when it wants and where it wants. COAs will require line of sight operations under 400’ AGL during VFR conditions. The COA will permit certain operations within Class C, D, E and G airspace. In addition, and with certain restrictions, agencies can get a COA that would involve operations within 5nm of an airport.

The FAA's UAS Integration Office and NIJ will develop a knowledge base exam for those operators that do not have an FAA issued airman certificate. This exam will help agencies demonstrate an adequate level of airman knowledge to ensure the safe operation of UAS, a tremendous asset for individual agencies risk management programs. The COA process will also provide a sample Safety Risk Analysis Plan (“SRAP”) to help the agency identify its areas of risk and ensure safe operating procedures. 

The FAA is working to streamline the current online application to lessen the burden on agencies applying for COAs and to help expedite review. The COA process currently requires a lot of technical detail on the aircraft and equipment. The FAA, through its work with NIJ, will develop a master list of sUAS that an agency can use to simply select the aircraft with appropriate equipment. Manufacturers will be able to have their aircraft included in this master list through an independent assessment process.

With model standard operating procedures, SRAP, operating limitations and training curriculum, agencies will have an easier time applying for COAs. The streamlined process will eliminate the need to recreate the wheel and simply provide agencies with best practices for sUAS operations.
 
The news for public safety agencies and manufacturers is good. The FAA was once considered a major hurdle for public safety operations. While I still hear agencies and manufacturers claim that the barrier to sUAS operations is the FAA, that is no longer an accurate statement. The FAA has already issued operational COAs for specific jurisdictions to a number of agencies. Building upon that experience and through discussions with NIJ and public safety officers, the FAA created the new COA process to help reduce the administrative burden for agencies while at the same time ensure adequate safety. 

While the new “Common Strategy” which streamlines the COA process has been agreed upon, there remains an ongoing implementation process. A few of these implementation steps include:

  • Creating an online knowledge exam for operators.
  • Creating a sample SRAP for agencies to use when applying for a COA.
  • Revising the on-line COA application website to incorporate the streamlined process.
  • Educating manufacturers and end-users on the new process.

The FAA, DOJ and DHS Science and Technology Directorate are working together to host a multiday sUAS focused conference that will include both educational seminars and live sUAS demonstrations by active law enforcement sUAS units. This conference will mark the kickoff for the new “Common Strategy” and it’s streamlined COA process. Attendees will have an opportunity to hear from the FAA, DHS S&T and DOJ regarding sUAS operations. Seminars will include information about the new streamlined process, best practices for operating sUAS in a public safety mission, examples of how to develop your own SRAP, and much more. The conference is anticipated to occur in the middle of September. Stayed tuned for more information about dates and locations.

Having had a chance to participate in many of the discussions with the FAA and NIJ about the new streamlined COA process and having had the chance to discuss operations with many public safety entities, I am confident that the “Common Strategy” will be a significant step forward in the employment of sUAS by public safety agencies. There appears to be a fundamental shift in the FAA’s perception of public safety operations. Initially, the FAA feared operations by public safety agencies that did not have adequate aviation knowledge, thereby creating a risk in the National Airspace System. Now, the FAA is focused on providing the tools necessary to help those public safety agencies conduct safe operations in the National Airspace System. Many of the new requirements in the streamlined COA process will help agencies identify the risk of operations and implement proper mitigating steps to limit those risks which seems to be in alignment with the FAA’s desire to introduce Safety Management Systems concepts. In the end, the goal is to increase our public safety agencies’ effectiveness through technology without unnecessarily increasing the risk to persons or property.


The Case for Driverless Cars
10 May 2012

AUVSI recently released a new white paper: The Case for Driverless Cars.

Driverless cars have been a dream for drivers around the world since the invention of the automobile more than 100 years ago, but have yet to be realized on a mass scale. Recent demonstrations and competitions, utilizing corporate and government investments, have shown that driverless car technology is maturing to the point where such vehicles may be commercially viable within a decade.

A variety of non-technical issues remain in order to field driverless cars. Legal, liability, regulatory, culture, and privacy concerns all need to be addressed for consumers to be able to use, and desire to use, driverless cars.

The paper goes into detail in these issues, the potential American consumer market, and technical aspects of driverless cars. The paper is written for people without a strong background in driverless cars looking for more information and is a good background for people interested in the Driverless Car Summit.


AUVSI Presses DOT to Release Small UAS Proposed Rule
4 May 2012 

On 4 May, AUVSI President & CEO Michael Toscano sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood asking him to expedite the publication of the small unmanned aircraft system (UAS) notice of proposed rulemaking. 

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been examining the issue of allowing small UAS to fly in the airspace since 2008, when it formed an aviation rulemaking committee (ARC) to examine the issue. Although the ARC issued recommendations in 2009, the FAA has not yet released a proposed rule for public comment on how it will safely allow small UAS to fly in the civil airspace.

Congress, in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 - which was passed into law on 14 February - requires the secretary of Transportation to publish a final rule on allowing small UAS to fly in the airspace by mid-2014, with the safe integration of all civil UAS by 30 Sept. 2015. 

“The UAS industry believes the pending rule is urgently needed and will provide meaningful guidance to manufacturers and end users for design, construction and operation of small UAS to safely operate and deliver crucial services to law enforcement, agriculture and other sectors of the American economy.” said Toscano  in a letter to Secretary LaHood. “UAS will be the next big revolution in aviation; however, before this industry can really take off, we need rules from the FAA on how to safely operate alongside manned aircraft.”

AUVSI continues to actively engage with members of Congress, federal regulators, aviation stakeholders, potential users, and privacy groups to help educate about the importance of unmanned systems.