Drone Lobbyists Take To Congress

Drone Lobbying Heats Up On Capitol Hill




” The last time Congress weighed in on rules for nonmilitary drones,in 2012, the flying machines were hardly a hit with consumers. And companies said little about using them for commercial purposes.

  Now Congress is set to make a stand again. But this time, hundreds of thousands of recreational drones are in use, and companies like Amazon have their hearts set on using drones to deliver packages — and they are taking their case to Capitol Hill.

  The efforts in the halls of Congress are to shape the Federal Aviation Administration’s approach to drone rules on safety and privacy. They are part of a multifront intervention by advocates for broader drone use as well as by their opponents, who argue that the machines pose significant safety and privacy risks. Together, the two sides have quickly emerged as a vocal and passionate contingent in this city.

“ Now that there is so much interest and money in drones, everyone wants to get their say” said Ryan Calo, an assistant professor of law at the University of Washington who is focused on robotics. A bill under consideration in Congress “is a way for people who aren’t getting what they want out of the process or getting it fast enough to get their views injected.”

  The goals of the drone hobbyists, companies and safety advocates differ in some ways. Hobby groups are trying to peel back recreational registration rules, while airline pilots are pushing for more mandates that drone makers like DJI and GoPro put safety technology on machines. Amazon and Google, which want to use drones for delivery, are asking permission to test their technology. They agree, though, that the F.A.A. is due for fresh guidance on its approach to drone rules.”

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