According to a Federal Aviation Administration official at the FAA Symposium, there are 10 times more drones registered in the US than manned aircraft. And, as we know, so many unmanned aerial vehicles in the hands of consumers has led to many drone incidents as well. Federal officials are urgently looking to mitigate the risk of drones in the hands of “the clueless, the careless, and the criminals” by introducing drone identification and new powers for the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security to track, disrupt and bring down unmanned aerial vehicles that pose a threat to security.

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The clueless, the careless, and the criminals

Before drones use and drone services can be expanded across the country, federal officials are pushing two security initiatives. First, they will require almost all drones to have ‘remote identification’ and second, new powers for the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security are needed to track, disrupt and bring down drones that pose a threat to security.

“We’re looking to mitigate “the clueless, the careless, and the criminals,” said Angela Stubblefield, Deputy Associate Administrator for the FAA’s Security and Hazardous Materials Safety office during the FAA Symposium in Baltimore.

According to the Washington Post, FAA officials said that for drone usage to expand and for the society to benefit from that expansion, it has to be clear who is flying the drone. Stubblefield said:

“Anonymous operations in the system aren’t consistent with moving forward with integration and expansion of operations.”

We had already reported that drone identification is likely to arrive in the US in 2018 and that was reinforced again by acting FAA administrator Daniel K. Elwell who said that the intent is to establish the ID requirement “very quickly.” He continued to say that:

“One malicious act could put a hard stop on all the good work we’ve done on drone integration.”

Especially since Trump’s administration launched the drone pilot integration program last year and many companies are eager to start testing various drone services such as blood deliveries by drone, a safe integration of unmanned aerial vehicles into the national airspace is needed. Currently, there are 149 lead applicants for the program and at least 10 will be selected.

In the same Washington Post article, Michael Kratsios, deputy assistant to the president at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said the federal government has limited authority to detect and defeat threats coming from drones.

“The administration is working on a legislative proposal to enable certain agencies to use technology capable of detecting, and if necessary, mitigating UAS-based threats to certain sensitive facilities and assets.”

Kratsios continued to say that officials will work with Congress and industry partners on a proposal in the coming week and months. He also indicated that the White House is impatient about the required regulatory changes to keep the US competitive in the global drone industry.

“We cannot allow the promise of tomorrow to be hamstrung by the bureaucracies of the past,” Kratsios said.

DroneDJ’s take

We support safe and responsible drone flying and agree with the need for improved regulation so that new drones services can be developed for the good of society. There are many examples (Zipline, woman, man, swimmers) where drones are not just improving but saving people’s lives. We believe that once drones are fully and safely integrated into the national airspace while mitigating the risks, our society will benefit a great deal more. The question on everybody’s mind at the FAA Symposium is how do we get there quickly, because the advancements in drone technology are not slowing down at all, just take a look at the Skydio R1 drone.

The FAA Symposium is organized by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) in Baltimore, MD.

Photo: Kittyhawk

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