Public Safety Drone News: CA & TX Bills, DJI Fined $279 Million, Training and Conference Overview
How's it going, everybody? Welcome to our very first webcast with the Pilot Institute, an Unmanned Tactical Group partnership. We aim to provide you with up-to-date News specifically related to public safety. We plan to host these webcasts every other week, sponsored by Adorama. Our goal is to ensure we can provide you with as much up-to-date information about various Legal matters, conferences, and trainings as possible. Given the ever-evolving environment of public safety and the drone world today, we want to ensure you have all the information you could possibly need.
On today's agenda, we will discuss the legislation taking place in California and Texas. We will also cover the Bell Textron and DJI legal suit that just concluded and discuss its potential impacts. Finally, we will wrap up with information about upcoming conferences and training events.
California and Texas Bills
In California, we had Assembly Bill 740. Chief Kennedy, with the Chula Vista Police Department, spoke to Congress about the impact this bill could have on public safety agencies across the nation, not just in California.
The concerning aspect of Assembly Bill 740 was that it adopted, from a state perspective, the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019, Section 889. This act essentially stated that DJI could no longer be flown if it were adopted in California.
The bill also included a ban and prohibition of operations for any aircraft on the Department of Commerce's banned list, which would immediately prohibit DJI platforms from being flown. This doesn't necessarily mean that other drones, like Autel or Skydio, would be implicated, but any agency utilizing DJI in California would have to come up with a policy and plan to discontinue the use of these drones according to this bill.
The great news is, through Chief Kennedy's efforts and feedback from other agencies informing legislators of the potential issues with this bill, it has been tabled for now. They are also exploring amendments to make the bill universally applicable to any agency looking to utilize drone programs.
In Texas, we had Senate Bill 541. This bill was very similar to Assembly Bill 740 in California. It was also a state adaptation of the National Defense Authorization Act. The implication of this, just like in California, is that if federal entities ended up adding DJI to that list, then state agencies and government entities in Texas would be required to sunset their programs if they were running DJI platforms and it was found to be under the National Defense Authorization Act ban as well.
What is also great is that we were working with our legislators here in Texas under Senate Bill 541. The senators and authors who wrote this bill agreed to have it tabled. In addition, we had three other bills concerning drone use in Texas: Senate Bill 1986, House Bill 4201, and House Bill 4737.
All of these were similar to the state of Florida's ban, which would ban all drones, including DJI and Autel, originating from China.
We consulted with various associations like AUVSI Lone Star, Texas Municipal Police Association, and numerous sheriff departments to share our concerns about these bills with legislators. The great news is they were very receptive. They want to ensure we won't be handcuffed or restricted in performing our job safely and effectively.
Thankfully, it looks like these bills have been tabled, and we're working with legislators to ensure that if these bills do proceed, they will be conducive for everyone using drones from a public safety perspective.
DJI lost $279 million lawsuit
Next, we have the lawsuit between Bell Textron and DJI. DJI lost this $279 million lawsuit. The implication of this isn't limited to DJI. If Bell Textron decided to pursue other manufacturers for patent infringements, they could potentially do so. The patents Bell Textron holds include features like active tracking, point of interest, orbiting, hover and hold, and anti-collision using vision sensors.
These functionalities are used by various platforms, including Skydio, DJI, Brinc, Autel, Parrot, and more. We are closely monitoring the fallout from this lawsuit. Initially, we expect a price hike across DJI platforms to offset the cost of the legal battle.
Conferences and trainings coming up
Finally, we have conferences and trainings coming up. From June 20th to 23rd, there's the Law Enforcement Drone Association's (LEDA) conference in Nashville. The great thing about this conference is its scenario-driven approach. It's an excellent opportunity for pilots to get practical experience. Attendees will be able to fly NIST missions, conduct search for person operations, and even participate in complex interior tactical operations. We also offer seminars. So it's not just for basic or advanced pilots; it's also for supervisors and administrative personnel.
We also have tracks for supervisors and related roles, so you can come and learn about best practices. So come check us out at the Law Enforcement Drone Association in Nashville from June 20th through the 23rd.
Finally, the last conference we have scheduled is Interpol's Drone Expert Summit, which is returning to its home base in Chula Vista, California, on October 23rd. The focus of that conference will be on drones as first responder programs. We're going to discuss the history, where we are now, and where we're heading in the future. If you're interested in that, by all means, please come and join us. We would love to see you there.
That's going to wrap up this very first webcast. We hope to see you on the next one. Have a great day and stay safe.
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