Military, Products

Drone Safety, Integration Focus of White House Workshop

By Amy Kluber | August 2, 2016


The first-ever workshop by White House Office of Science and Technology Policy about drones and the future of aviation provided a platform for industry insiders to discuss drone opportunities and challenges in the U.S.

According to a White House blog post, that office announced commitments from both public and private entities to safely integrate and adopt drone use across the U.S. Such initiatives include research funding from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Interior Dept.'s commitment to using drones in search and rescue operations, a $5 million down payment by New York to support drone growth across the state and commitments by industry associations to implement educational efforts around privacy issues surrounding drone use.

“Drones as a Business Opportunity” is a featured topic of Rotor & Wing International’s upcoming Rotorcraft Technology Summit, scheduled for Sep. 19 and 20 in Fort Worth, Texas. You can review its agenda and register for the event. The Early Bird discount for registrations expires this Friday, Aug. 5.

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The White House event follows the FAA's June announcement on new drone regulations generally restricting drone use to daytime hours and within a pilot's line of sight.

Workshop participants discussed various drone aspects, including their emerging applications, technologies and safety. One nonprofit organization comprised of various public and private industry groups has established three initiatives of its own at the meeting.

The Commercial Drone Alliance plans to collaborate with the Women of Commercial Drones group to advance women's participation in the drone industry. Addressing the lack of women leaders in technology, the groups will launch a mentor program to support women's career development, the group said.

It also will further educational efforts around privacy issues. This stems from May's stakeholder consensus establishing best practices for protecting individuals' privacy when operating drones.

Lastly, the alliance plans to work with end users and NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management to enable acceptance of drones and provide their seamless integration into U.S. airspace.

The White House has recognized unmanned aerial applications benefitting various areas such as firefighting, emergency response, search and rescue, conservation and infrastructure monitoring. 

Potentially adding to that list are medicine and blood deliveries to remote areas. California-based Zipline said at the workshop that it plans to bring such a program to Maryland, Nevada and Washington. The company began services in Rwanda last month under a government partnership.

The science office said it hopes this workshop will result in new ideas and collaborations to accelerate drone technology and further drone integration into U.S. airspace.

Photo by Mark Colborn

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