Ranking Member Frank Lucas (Republican, Oklahoma) presented legislation to increase civilian unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) research, development, and deployment, as well as speed up the deployment of the Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) business.
The National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Act (R-CA) has been supported by Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-TX), Rep. Young Kim (R-TX), Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), and Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK).
The regulation is essential for the development of the domestic UAS and AAM businesses, which must be robust, safe, and secure to compete with China. The measure would set up a coordinated government approach across research and mission agencies to help UAS research and development and make sure the United States stays on top in unmanned aircraft systems and advanced air mobility technology.
“Unmanned aircraft systems are already starting to revolutionize agriculture, transportation, public safety, weather forecasting, and border security, just to name a few industries,” Lucas said. “The demand from businesses and government is only getting larger, and the drone services market is expected to grow to more than $63 billion by 2025, which is astonishing given that it was worth less than $5 billion in 2018. The market for Advanced Air Mobility is expected to increase to $115 billion by 2035, creating more than 280,000 new jobs. It is an economic imperative that we expand this industry in the United States so we can benefit from future drone market growth.”
Lucas also stressed the need to address security vulnerabilities posed by China's near-monopoly on UAS production. He referenced DJI, a drone manufacturer that has, according to Lucas, attempted to conceal the fact that it is backed by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
“A single Chinese firm that's tied to the CCP has cornered 90 percent of the market for drones used for public safety and nearly 80 percent of drones used recreationally,” Lucas said. “That should concern anyone who cares about cybersecurity, privacy, and secure supply chains in the United States.”
Lucas then talked about how the National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Act can help our economy grow and protect us from threats from abroad.
“Unmanned aircraft systems and Advanced Air Mobility are too important to our economy and our national security to ignore,” Lucas said. “This bill will enable coordinated research and public-private partnerships that will give us the tools and knowledge we need to develop the domestic Drone Industry and expand our Advanced Air Mobility capabilities. I'm grateful to my colleagues for cosponsoring this bill, and I look forward to working with public and private stakeholders to get this across the finish line.”
According to Lucas, the National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative Act will:
- Establish a National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative to coordinate UAS activities.
- Authorize a Network of Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Research Institutes to be supported by federal research agencies.
- Promote the development of voluntary standards for UAS.
- Mitigate risks to supply chains, public safety, and national security.
- Support and expand the U.S. workforce to integrate UAS across all sectors of the economy.
- Increase environmental observations and establish a data management strategy for scientific data.
- Establish a counter-UAS center of excellence to support the work necessary to improve our abilities to respond to threats from adversaries using UAS.
- Support research and development activities at the National Institute of Technology (NIST), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
For more information on the bill, a section-by-section summary of the legislation is available here.
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