Preview: Policies Impacting Drones and the Future of Flight
It’ a bird… It’s a plane… No, it’s a drone. You may have been hearing a lot more about drones in the past year, and about the development of rules and regulations for their use. Brendan Schulman, VP of Policy and Legal Affairs for DJI (drones) will be speaking at SXSW Interactive to educate us on drone policies — and some of the policy battles that could stand in the way of this remarkable technology. This panel will examine some of the key issues impacting drones, from innovation and economic impact to safety and privacy.
What started as a personal interest for Schulman ultimately turned into his career at DJI. For more than 20 years, Brendan developed experience as a model aircraft enthusiast and began working in the field of unmanned aircraft law and policy for three years – he even led the country’s first law firm practice group focused on this technology. In July 2015, he left his private law practice to take on the role of VP of Policy and Legal Affairs at DJI. Since Schulman’s arrival at DJI, he has been helping to educate policy makers about the benefits of the technology and to advocate for reasonable regulations. His role is to set the company’s policy objectives, work collaboratively with his colleagues in the industry and with government officials. Schulman also helps develop some of DJI’s technical solutions that deal with safety concerns, such as their geofencing system.
“Over three years ago, long before any headlines about pilot drone sightings, we implemented geofencing technology to help educate operators and also to help prevent inadvertent operation in places that raise concerns such as near airports,” said Schulman. “We also have other safety features like altitude limitation, automatic return-to-home, and smart battery technology.” Schulman served on the FAA’s registration task force and helped contribute to some of the more innovative features of that new framework. Schulman states that safety has always been a top priority for DJI, but he also believes it is important to recognize the benefits of this technology.
Even with all the amazing opportunities drones can offer, there are still several challenges facing drones. “We do have a challenge with the recent sensationalistic news coverage, often of minor incidents,” said Schulman. “I am also concerned about the legislation I see at the state and local level, which is quickly turning into a patchwork of inconsistent approaches that overlook existing privacy and tort law, and target a specific technology for different treatment rather than addressing actual misconduct.”
DJI is the most popular choice of FAA commercial exemption holders, and the company has definitely seen the power of this technology — to create amazing videos and photographs, to help people with their farms, infrastructure inspection, and even to help rescue people in floods and fires. Schulman mentioned the importance of engaging with local and state lawmakers for anyone who sees promise in this technology. By showing lawmakers the great things this technology can offer, this could help create reasonable legislation. “Enjoy the technology, but also be engaged with policy makers in your area so that innovation isn’t stifled by legislation,” said Schulman.
When and Where:
Tuesday, March 15
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Parkside – Parkside Upstairs / 301 E 6th St
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