Drone Experts: Consumer Drone Safety Act Would Stifle Innovation

Drone experts react to the Consumer Drone Safety Act, saying that adding "technology restrictions doesn’t make sense," that drones would become too expensive and companies would go out of business.

Drone hobbyists aren’t happy with the recent introduction of the Consumer Drone Safety Act, a bill from Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) that is calling for more restrictions on consumer drone flights in the United States.

The bill, which was created in response to the growing number of near-collisions between drones and commercial airplanes, wants to regulate the maximum height for flight, the weather and time-of-day conditions for flight, and any areas or circumstances where flights may be prohibited or limited, such as near airports.

The Consumer Drone Safety Act is also rubbing some drone experts the wrong way, according to Business Insider, saying it could stifle innovation in the industry. Brendan Schulman, head of the Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice at New York City-based law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, said that “there’s potential for this to turn into a rather draconian set of limits on both the user and the manufacturer.

The bill, if passed, would require drone manufacturers to update existing consumer drones to meet these new safety restrictions by adding technologies such as collision avoidance, geo-fencing, “anti-tampering” safeguards and more.

DJI recently introduced its Guidance collision-avoidance system, but these technologies are still being developed, which creates a “cart-before-the-horse problem for manufacturers and regulators should the Consumer Drone Safety Act be passed into law.”

And all this added technology could make consumer drones unaffordable. “If you were to incorporate all of these technologies on consumer drones, I don’t know if they would be affordable anymore,” Schulman said. “And that’s going to put a lot of these new startups out of business.”

Jesse Kallman, director of business development and regulatory affairs for Airware, a San Francisco-based startup, told Business Insider that “education is the biggest thing we can do for the industry. Imposing a bunch of technology restrictions doesn’t make sense in a lot of cases.”

“I’m in agreement with the spirit of the bill,” said Lisa Ellman, Co-Chair of the Global UAS Practice and one-time policy advisor to the Obama administration. “But being prescriptive about what technologies manufacturers should include are things that industry and policy makers are already working on now, and it doesn’t make sense to get in the way of that. We want to enforce safety without inhibiting innovation.”

[Source:] Business Insider

About the Author

Steve Crowe · Steve Crowe is managing editor of Robotics Trends. Steve has been writing about technology since 2008. He lives in Belchertown, MA with his wife and daughter.
Contact Steve Crowe: scrowe@ehpub.com  ·  View More by Steve Crowe.


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