Drone Safety 101 Briefing Highlights Benefits of and Challenges Facing Drone Use

By: Bethany Patterson

On November 5, the U.S. Chamber Technology Engagement Center held a briefing on drone safety for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) National Drone Safety Awareness Week. 

The briefing focused on how drones are being safely integrated into our nation’s airspace and included panelists Ken Stewart of AiRXOS, Luke Fox of WhiteFox Defense Technologies and Jeff Dygert of AT&T. 

First the panelists emphasized how drones can be used to enhance public safety. Just last month, a local photographer was able to find a missing boy in a cornfield in Minnesota with his heat-seeking drone. Drones can also be used to complete dangerous tasks, such as inspecting equipment on cell towers or oil rigs. 

In these particular, Fox asked whether it was ethical to not use drones, considering their potential to save lives. 

There are specific challenges surrounding drones that prevent them from being further integrated into the airspace and the economy. Fox said that drones have democratized the airspace, which is what makes them special. But this also raises a lot of issues. 

Stewart pointed out that it’s easy for people to operate drones anonymously, which creates security issues. He believes that comprehensive remote ID rules, which would identify each drone with its operator, would be an adequate solution. 

There are also significant differences between federal, state and local rules, making it difficult for drone operators to navigate the regulatory landscape. Dygert emphasized that there are existing laws that address issues surrounding drones, such as laws on privacy or property rights. State and local governments need to enforce these laws before creating new ones. 

Fox also pointed out that most Americans don’t trust drones, or autonomous technology in general, right now. He believes that increased accountability will change that. 

This briefing was part of the FAA’s National Drone Safety Awareness Week, which aims to educate the public safe drone operations while highlighting how it impacts multiple sectors of the economy.

Photo credit: Stanley Zimny (Flickr)