What Went Down at the White House’s First UAS Workshop?

The AUVSI Foundation, a nonprofit organization established by the Association for Unmanned Vehicles Systems International (AUVSI), has released a report on the proceedings of the recent “Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation,” an event co-hosted with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

The daylong workshop occurred on Aug. 2 and focused on the continued issues facing the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) into the National Airspace System (NAS).

“The White House’s first-ever workshop on drones recognized how UAS will play a vital role in our lives – inspiring businesses from all industry sectors, as well as future generations of engineers, innovators and aviators,” comments Daryl Davidson, executive director of the AUVSI Foundation, which is designed to provide students with hands-on robotics activities to fuel and sustain their interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

According to the report, the workshop brought together leaders from industry, academia and government to discuss the path to full UAS integration and how to make it a reality.

In addition, it was announced at the workshop that the White House had committed to $35 million in new research funding through the National Science Foundation for UAS over the next five years.

“The August workshop was one of many steps this administration has taken in an effort to integrate UAS into the National Airspace System,” says Dr. Ed Felten, the White House’s deputy chief technology officer. “This type of cross-sector collaboration is vital to creating smarter policies and making government more responsive to emerging technologies like unmanned aircraft systems.”

Breakout sessions detailed in the proceedings included discussions of low-altitude airspace management; expanded operations for small UAS; integration into the NAS; privacy concerns; spectrum; and UAS security and counter-UAS measures.

In addition, across each session, attendees emphasized the need for greater coordination between government agencies, industry and academia, says the AUVSI Foundation.

“Industry-government collaboration is key to the future of UAS,” notes Brian Wynne, president and CEO of AUVSI.

“Events such as the Workshop on Drones and the Future of Aviation and the upcoming White House Frontiers Conference allow for greater cooperation between stakeholders to ensure a true, holistic plan for full UAS integration,” he continues.

Today, Wynne is participating in the “National Frontiers” track of the White House Frontiers Conference to discuss the potential that UAS offer to a wide array of industries. The conference is taking place in Pittsburgh.

Wynne also moderated a panel at the White House workshop and stated, “We’ve been talking a lot about policy. At the end of the day, it’s incumbent on industry to bring technology solutions to the marketplace.”

The event was held just a few weeks before the FAA’s new rules for commercial UAS went into effect.

Michael Huerta, the agency’s administrator, said, “UAS are transforming entire industries. They are improving the safety of our transportation infrastructure … They are tackling jobs that are dangerous for other people or aircraft to do.”

AUVSI’s report notes that the FAA “wants to move at a faster pace” with drone integration and plans to have a proposed rule for UAS flights taking place over people by the end of 2016.

The full report on the workshop proceedings can be accessed here.


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