The 80 Billion Dollar Industry: White House Workshop on Drones

White House OSTP Workshop on DronesThe Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted a “Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation” at the White House this morning, to be followed by demonstrations held off-site this afternoon.

The Workshop’s remarks by FAA Administrator Michael Huerta represented a shift in tone welcome to the drone industry, as the FAA representative acknowledged that drones are the safer way to perform many necessary tasks for industry, and clearly stated the recognized economic impact that the drone industry represents.

Emphasizing the need for industry and government partnerships, Huerta spoke about the broad-based drone regulation advisory committee that he announced this spring, which will be chaired by Intel CEO Brian Krzanich.  The administrator said that the membership of the committee would be announced soon, and that it would prioritize forming regulation to support the industry.

Huerta said that the Part 107 Small UAS Rule which will become active on August 29 is the basis for “routine commercial use,” and will serve as the “foundation” for future regulation which could include urban operations over people and flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS.)

“The only limit of this technology is our imaginations,” said Huerta, commenting that the drone industry was “essential for our economy” and to maintain the US’ position as a global leader.

Huerta was followed by the chairperson of the advisory committee, Brian Krzanich, who began his talk with an impressive video of Intel’s drone fireworks display.  Krzanich pointed out that the display was a demonstration of a fleet of drones – 100 – flown by a single operation system, and said that Intel planned to scale the technology to “300, 500, 1,000… and much, much more.”

Krzanich also focused on the economic benefit of drones, saying that drone industry represented a potential boost of $80 Billion to the US economy.  To get there, he said, the US will need to create a collaborative environment in the industry and show leadership in policy and regulations.

While some stakeholders on social media felt that the message of regulation leadership is too little, too late, other industry players lauded the FAA and the White House for putting forth a message acknowledging the economic value of drones and their importance in industry.

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