No one denies that there needs to be common-sense policies in place for the safe and responsible use of drones.
It’s finding a balance in creating those policies that’s challenging the industry right now. Innovation generally outpaces policy, and the kneejerk reaction to innovation in this instance is restriction.
But a rush to pass legislation without thoughtful input from stakeholders slows the arrival of useful applications that most people also say they’d like to see, like package delivery and disaster response. And in many cases, we can address privacy and safety concerns by just taking a close look at technology-neutral laws already on the books.
In cases where existing law doesn’t apply because the technology is so new, we need what I call “Polivation.” Polivation brings policy makers together with innovators to ensure drone policy promotes innovation that gains the public’s trust for the safe and responsible use of UASes.
One of the biggest challenges we have with current regulations is that we’re trying to fit new drone technology into an old, manned aviation regulatory structure. A five-pound drone has little to nothing in common with a Cessna or 747. So we constantly have to reconcile drones and their differences in the context of manned aircraft regulations, which requires jumping through legal hoops in order to comply with those regulations. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But it’s an iterative process. Right now, the FAA is regulating drones as if they will fall out of the sky or fly away at any time. Regulators don’t care if this happens, so long as there aren’t people around to get hurt on the ground, or the operator can see the drone to make it return to home in case of a flyaway.
Policymakers need to hear from innovators about their progress so the rules can evolve in a timely way to reflect this.
This is a solid interview that covers a lot of ground from someone at Ground Zero. She hd a lot more to say then I was able to include here.