There has been good news coming out of state legislatures.
- I’ve been tracking the progress of a bill in my old state of Connecticut, which would have allowed law enforcement to use weaponized UAS. Yesterday it died in committee. I am all for law enforcement being provided the tools to do their job, but UAS are powerful and we as a society are still learning how to effectively incorporate them into ouThere has been good news coming out of state legislatures.
- Toms River, New Jersey tabled a proposed ordinance which would have required UAS operators to register and pay a $70 annual fee. It would have prohibited UAS operations below 400 feet in the following locations and over beaches when lifeguards are on duty, dunes, residentially or commercially zoned areas, any roads, or over government or public buildings, property, or parks. Law enforcement agencies and legitimate scientific researchers would have been exempted and use at events would have been authorized with permission of the organizer and notice to attendees. My concerns are two-fold. First, we need to avoid a hodge-podge of broad local and state ordinances. I’m not opposed to local ordinances relating to specifically local concerns (i.e.: beaches during lifeguarded hours and protected dunes), but the FAA needs to be allowed to develop a coherent national system. Secondly, the ordinance, as proposed, is overbroad.
The FAA and the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE) issued a joint report on the severity of UAS impact on humans, specifically in comparison to an impact with wood or steel. They conclude: “Results strongly suggest RCC-based thresholds are overly conservative in terms of injury potential because they do not accurately represent the collision dynamics of elastically-deformable sUAS with larger contact areas in comparison to the inelastic, metallic debris that occurs following the in-flight break up of high-speed missiles found on the national test ranges.” In short, UAS impacts do not transfer as much energy to humans due to their elastic nature (editorial note: I still wouldn’t want one to fall on me).
I saw another article regarding the pizza drone incident. This author didn’t appear as amused by the article or it having been picked up by mainstream media. I don’t agree with his premise, though. A journalist should fact-check an article to ensure it is accurate, whether it be a satire or allegedly real article. On the surface, it should have raised some red flags (for example, the speed at which the case moved through court was shocking as well as the fact that the docket number did not appear on the Merrimack Superior Court’s publically accessible website).