How Should Drone Traffic be Managed?

WhiteFox’s proposal to top regulatory officials is good for industry, consumers, and the future

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The world is currently in the “Wild West” stage of drone integration. Existing laws are not enforceable, drone pilots have unrestricted flight access, and drones are vulnerable to exploitation by bad actors. The rising prospect of such threats underscores the urgent need for a framework to shepherd the graceful integration of drones into the national airspace.

Worldwide drone defense leader, WhiteFox Defense Technologies, Inc., has developed and distributed a whitepaper to top regulatory officials within the U.S. government. This timely paper provides regulators with a set of recommendations that can be used to construct a comprehensive Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Traffic Management (UTM) policy. Ryan Jenkins, WhiteFox’s Director of Policy and Ethics, commented that, “WhiteFox urges the adoption of a solution that is not only commercially attractive and technically viable but ethically informed.” As the use and proliferation of recreational and commercial drones increases, the call for UTM becomes a matter of utmost concern.

When introducing UAS Traffic Management into the urban landscape, there are three values at stake: security, privacy, and consumer-friendliness. A solution that appropriately balances all three stands the best chance of satisfying the broad array of parties with a stake in drone policy.

Any proposed solution must account for several kinds of drone-related threats to public safety and national security. These threats include aerial vehicle collisions, reckless flying, malicious use, and terrorism.

The FAA reports that it receives upwards of 100 reports per month of “potential encounters” between manned aircraft and drones. This number will continue to rise as drones become increasingly common and their operators more adventurous and reckless. A UTM platform that allows for drone-to-aircraft communication will allow for the safe operation and coexistence of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles.

In addition to posing threats in urban landscapes, drones frequently cause harm in the battlefield. For example, ISIS routinely uses drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations to help maximize the damage from suicide attacks (Watson, 2017, January 12. “The Drones of ISIS.”). Introducing a system that eliminates a lawless “wild west” and allows for the safe management of drones through safe counter-UAS technology will protect citizens and give the public confidence that areas of critical infrastructure are secure.

To balance privacy and public safety, only legitimate authorities ought to be able to identify drone operators. Consider license plates on cars, which provide a promising analogy. License plates discourage bad behavior by ensuring accountability for malicious actions. While license plates uniquely identify car owners, the law restricts the reasons for which a person can search a database of license plates. Drone use must be accountable enough—without imposing on privacy rights—to deter malicious acts and ensure, for the public’s peace of mind, that bad actors can be identified with due haste.

Burdensome regulations are expected to stifle innovation on the frontend and the backend. By erecting barriers to enjoyable customer experiences, stringent requirements on consumers reduce the demand for products. They thereby, in turn, reduce the incentives for companies to develop and sell products. This is why WhiteFox is recommending policies that are non-cumbersome and maximally consumer-friendly while also meeting the safety and privacy requirements outlined above. The policies detailed in the whitepaper can be found at https://www.whitefoxdefense.com/resources/whitepapers.

These requirements are ideal for all stakeholders: Citizens and governments are assured non-invasive safety and accountability to discourage bad actors; consumers are assured straightforward adoption and deployment of commercial and recreational drones; larger drone fleet operators are assured uniform regulatory frameworks that drastically lower the cost of compliance and of operating between jurisdictions; regulatory bodies are assured consistency with existing national airspace system structure and regulation.

To responsibly implement a comprehensive UTM system, these topics must be addressed. WhiteFox CEO, Luke Fox, shares, “At WhiteFox, we understand that proper requirements for industry, consumers, public safety, and privacy must be met when integrating drones into our airspace. We believe our whitepaper’s recommendations have struck the delicate balance between each stakeholder. We look forward to enjoying a world where drones can move about safely and securely.”

 

About WhiteFox Defense Technologies:

WhiteFox Defense Technologies, Inc. specializes in drone defense and security. As drone enthusiasts and security experts, they work to keep the skies open to and safe for all responsible pilots and advance the potential for drone technology to benefit society.
For more information, visit www.WhiteFoxDefense.com.

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