As the US prepares for a new president, industry stakeholders wait to see what will change with the new administration. Here, industry leader Lisa Elllman discusses how drone technology can be used to address some of the problems the US – and the world – is currently facing.
The following is a guest post by Lisa Ellman, Chair of the Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems Group for Hogan Lovells and Executive Director of the Commercial Drone Alliance. DRONELIFE does not make or accept payments for guest posts.
How the Biden Harris Administration can use emerging aviation technologies to meet our nation’s greatest challenges
On the evening of November 7th, amid the fireworks display that followed President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’s words to the nation, LED-lit drones lit the night sky over Wilmington, Del. Dozens of drones danced together around “Biden,” 46 “,” USA “- and a glowing map of the USA
As well as being entertaining, the light show was a welcome signal of the next government’s desire to take advantage of new technologies. To unleash the power of these technologies for the health, prosperity and quality of life of Americans, the Biden Harris administration, led by Pete Buttigieg as Secretary of Transportation, should take swift action to enable and support innovative aviation technologies.
Drones can provide extensive benefits and essential services – from delivering COVID-19 vaccines or critical consumables, to assisting with fire fighting, public safety, and natural disaster response, to inspecting and monitoring critical infrastructure. Investing in urban air mobility (UAM) technologies such as electric vertical take-off and landing planes (eVTOL) and other emerging technologies for clean fuel aircraft will also bring tremendous benefits to the public by reducing congestion along high-traffic corridors and providing leadership to the public USA in the USA demonstrate sustainable aviation innovation.
The growth of these industries will enable billions of dollars in economic growth over the next few years if the regulatory framework can keep up with the rapidly evolving industry. Regulatory progress has lagged behind innovation. By accelerating current efforts, the Biden administration can harness the aviation technology industry to keep Americans healthy, Americans back to work, and promote America’s leadership in the world.
Use drones to aid America’s COVID-19 response efforts
Drones are already successfully delivering medical care to American communities. With the prospect of a vaccine finally in sight, drones can play a key role in delivering life-saving COVID-19 vaccines and other medical supplies across the country. The administration should establish a UAS Vaccine Dispensing Task Force to facilitate the delivery of vaccines and other critical goods to vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations, including remote, rural, and tribal areas, through the UAS.
In general, Americans are increasingly looking for contactless delivery services, and the industry is rapidly evolving to meet these needs. However, in order to safely and comprehensively enable large-scale delivery of drones, businesses must be able to fly in urban and suburban environments and out of sight. The Biden administration should act swiftly to accelerate efforts to integrate safe and routinely enhanced drone operations into national airspace.
Create infrastructure projects and quality jobs to get Americans back to work
As healthcare workers work tirelessly to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the nation faces the parallel challenge of restoring the U.S. economy and promoting job creation. To get Americans back to work and innovate so they can safely thrive here at home, the Biden Administration should enable low risk, high value UAS operations, including inspection of aging American infrastructure. The administration should continue to support state and local authorities in the strategic planning of next-generation infrastructure systems for tomorrow. The new administration should provide guidance and funding to enable states and cities to plan UAS / UAM activities and build the physical transportation infrastructure to support these operations.
The Biden Administration can also boost US competitiveness by expanding and accelerating US drone manufacturing capabilities. The cooperation between the federal government and industry on important issues relating to the supply chain and the security of drones is also of crucial importance for the safe and secure opening of the industry.
Promotion of American aviation leadership
The United States has historically been the leader in aviation innovation. However, policies to enable the commercial use of drones have lagged behind technology while many other countries are ahead. The Biden administration should act quickly to enable regulations that allow innovations to be safely scaled. The immediate appointment of a US representative to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) would further demonstrate the country’s global leadership in developing standardized and harmonized approaches to airspace and infrastructure.
We are entering a new era of transportation and mobility with drones and UAM at the heart of this movement. As the Biden Administration seeks to address grave public health and economic challenges, the Commercial Drone Alliance and the wider industry stand ready to help in the task of enabling new aerospace technologies, unique opportunities and benefits for all of us to tap into.
Lisa Ellman chairs the Global Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) group for Hogan Lovells, a global law firm where she is a leading public policy attorney focused on domestic drones and other emerging technologies. Lisa is also the Executive Director of the Commercial Drone Alliance, an independent 501 (c) (6) nonprofit led by key organizations in the commercial drone ecosystem. Lisa previously served in various roles for the Obama administration in the White House and Justice Department, with a focus on emerging technology.
Miriam McNabb is editor-in-chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a marketplace for professional drone services, and a fascinating observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has written over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
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