In a press release, drone market leader DJI has said that the company is inviting state, local and tribal governments to consider partnering with DJI as they apply to take part in a new U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) program, called the Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program, to accelerate the safe integration of unmanned aerial systems (UAS) into the national airspace.

DJI Inspire 2

The UAS Pilot Program

The UAS Pilot Program introduced earlier this month by President Trump, calls for state, local and tribal governments to collaborate with industry partners to propose drone testing programs in their localities. As part of this program, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) will select a minimum of 5 applicants to support in the implementation of the programs, granting airspace waivers where needed and accepting feedback from the industry partners and local government parties.

As the November 28th deadline to submit a notice of intent is coming up fast, DJI has issued a press release stating that they are actively looking for local governments to team up with. DJI is prepared to offer significant equipment and expertise as part of such a partnership.

In their press release DJI says:

The FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program smartly provides opportunities for government and industry to experiment with advanced drone operations and test new forms of airspace management. DJI is pleased that the program will help inform policymakers about how well different regulatory approaches can increase the safe adoption of drone technology while also balancing different interests in how drone operations are governed.

“DJI has worked for years with government officials around the world to help develop reasonable, safety-enhancing public policies while keeping open the pathways to innovation,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy and Legal Affairs. “We would very much value the opportunity to work with U.S. state, local and tribal governments to develop smart and comprehensive strategies for expanding how drones can benefit their constituents while properly managing their integration into the airspace.”

DJI is widely considered to be the market leader in the drone industry with a market share of more than 60% in the commercial drone space and possibly more than 70% in the recreational drone space. The press release issued by DJI, to invite local governments to set up partnerships with the manufacturer, underscores the importance of the UAS Pilot Program to DJI. In their statement, DJI outlines what they are willing to bring to the table in terms of expertise, hardware, software, educational outreach and access to the DJI User Community.

AeroScope Remote Identification: AeroScope is DJI’s “electronic license plate” solution to remotely detect, identify and track airborne drones up to 5 kilometers away. For pilot programs that will explore the safety, security, and public-acceptance benefits of remote identification, or models of regulatory enforcement and accountability, DJI will provide up to three AeroScope units and direct technical support to get the most out of this solution, and to collaborate on ways that this technology can lead to expanded UAS operations as well as address governing concerns.

Drone Equipment: DJI’s drones span the full range of modern aerial platforms, from the popular Spark mini-drone to the powerful Mavic Pro prosumer drone to the rugged Matrice 200 series of professional drones. For pilot programs that plan to put drones themselves to the test in exploring new operational concepts, DJI will provide up to $20,000 in UAS equipment.

Software Development Kit: DJI’s SDK is the leading platform for the creation of innovative drone applications, including mapping, sensing, reality capture, navigation, search-and-rescue and even augmented reality. For pilot programs that involve development of custom software solutions, DJI will provide direct, VIP support from its SDK Team in Silicon Valley.

Policy Collaboration: Exploring the frontiers for drone operations requires thoughtful, deliberative collaboration on opportunities and challenges. DJI is fortunate to have collaborated with city, state, federal and international governmental bodies on drone policy. For all pilot programs, which will inherently explore the intersection between technology and regulation, DJI will provide direct expertise and close, in-person collaboration with DJI’s U.S. public policy team.

Custom Geofencing: DJI implemented geofencing more than four years ago to help automatically prevent drone flight in locations that raise aviation safety or national security concerns. For pilot programs that involve protecting aviation or secure facilities, DJI will provide customized geofencing to test flexible systems that solve problems while enabling innovative operations.

Educational Outreach: Drones inspire young students to explore science, engineering and aviation careers. For pilot programs involving expanded opportunities among educational institutions, DJI will provide educational purchase discounts and curriculum development support.

Access to our User Community: One of the FAA’s key criteria for selecting pilot program participants is “the involvement of affected communities in, and their support for, participating in the Program.” DJI’s customers represent the largest community of professional and personal drone operators in the country, many of whom are already using drone technology for beneficial applications. We will facilitate outreach efforts to this community for programs that include thoughtful methods to engage drone pilots.

DJI also welcomes other ideas for how DJI, as the leading global manufacturer of innovative drone technology, can contribute to ambitious Integration Pilot Program proposals. State, local and tribal governments interested in partnering with DJI on a proposal should send a brief description of an anticipated proposal as well as contact information to PilotProgram-US@dji.com. The FAA requires governments interested in participating in the program to submit a notice of intent by November 28.

All in all, an open invitation for local government bodies to partner with DJI and to take part in the UAS Pilot Program. The fact that DJI has issued such a detailed statement of what they are willing to bring to the table should show to the local governments that DJI is serious about this. It also gives the impression that until now maybe not many governments have done so. The deadline of November 28th is coming up fast. Best hurry up!

About the Author