As posted in the AUVSI Linkedin forum
Subject: UAS in Search and Rescue: Let’s change the tide
As of late Unmanned Aerial Systems (aka ‘Drones’) have fallen under a great deal of scrutiny from both the media and privacy advocate groups. I would like to make what I believe may be a very worthwhile suggestion. Recently I was contacted via email on behalf of the Center for Search and Investigations: “a group of devoted licensed investigators and many dedicated volunteers that donate their time pro bono for the sole purpose to successfully and safely locate missing children.” This organization is apparently seeking private investigators willing to contribute to their efforts in rural Virginia and West Virginia.
As I found this a worthy and intriguing cause, I contacted their CEO , Chuck Foreman. During the course of our conversation, the topic of UAS and their potential benefits for search and rescue efforts came into play. As a private investigator, I survive (and sometimes thrive) by ‘thinking outside the box.’ PI’s often seek out new approaches to tackle perplexing problems. As of late, the concern of most AUVSI member companies is the public’s perception on just how these technologies will be used. I believe that the donation of resources in a direction such as this would speak VOLUMES to the general public, and help relieve some of the political pressures that have begun to fall upon our blossoming industry. With all due respect, I believe this approach would yield far greater benefits then the recent release of the newly released ‘code of conduct.’ The members of AUVSI need to educate the public as to how ‘drones’ will contribute to the public welfare, and actions speak louder then words.
Consider this an invitation. for open and candid dialogue. Here is a real world need which we could not only help address, but which could really help stem the tides of current criticism, if addressed correctly. I also predict a public relations opportunity beyond measure for a UAS manufacturer willing to contribute towards this aim.
Bulldog Investigations Bulldog Investigations & Security, LLC
A email from AUVSI to it’s membership
Dear Virginia AUVSI Member,
As you are aware, the recent passage of legislation by the Virginia General Assembly in the form of House Bill 2012 (HB2012) and Senate Bill 1331 (SB 1331), will place a two-year moratorium on the use of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). The legislation allows an exception for search and rescue operations, but fails to recognize other public safety applications and embrace the economic benefits of promoting responsible UAS-related research and development in the state.
The moratorium states that no law enforcement agency may utilize an unmanned aircraft system before 1 July 2015 with a few exceptions in the case of emergencies. However, even with the exceptions, the moratorium would deny law enforcement the ability to test the technology and train personnel, making these agencies less likely to use it in the event of an emergency.
We fear that this moratorium will make it virtually impossible for Virginia to participate in the advancement of UAS technology, which holds tremendous economic promise. Virginia’s plan to partner with New Jersey to bid for one of six FAA UAS test sites would be in jeopardy, leaving other states and regions to reap the economic benefit and job creation potential that would come with a test site. AUVSI’ recently released economic report projected that in the first three years following the integration of UAS into the national airspace, Virginia stands to gain 2380 manufacturing jobs and $463 million in economic impact. This would all be jeopardized by a moratorium.
Not only would future prospects dwindle, but current jobs could be jeopardized. The fact is, companies will move jobs to where they test and develop the technology. While Virginia waits, other states and regions will march forward. This does not bode well for the 50 companies and more than 1200 workers who currently manufacture UAS in the Commonwealth.
It is imperative that you write to Governor McDonnell and convey your concerns with the two-year moratorium. Governor McDonnell has until 25 March to either sign the measure into law or veto the bill.
Here is what we are asking of our Virginia members:
1. Write to Governor McDonnell by using the attached template (be sure to personalize the highlighted paragraph) and provide him the three attached documents (AUVSI Code of Conduct, IACP Guidelines and UAS Systems Fact Sheet)
2. To expedite delivery please go to this link. Please fill out all the sender information and under affiliation, please check the appropriate affiliation. Most importantly, cut and paste your letter in the area titled ‘Message Body’ then hit submit. Please not that you cannot submit attachments through this process.
Please take the time to participate in the action alert and write to Governor McDonnell and urge him to veto the anti-UAS legislation as we have a short window of opportunity to positively affect the outcome in Virginia. The more individual businesses and members that demonstrate concern for this issue, the easier it will be to influence the Governor’s office.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.
Mario D. Mairena Government Relations Manager
Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International
(AUVSI) +1 571 255 7783 direct +1 703 220 1536 mobile