U.S. Is Lagging on Commercial UAS, Witnesses Tell Senate

Yamaha RMax unmanned helicopterThe U.S. lags other countries in allowing commercial use of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), delaying a substantial economic opportunity, witnesses told a Senate hearing on January 15. Some senators questioned the reasons behind the delay; others expressed concern over privacy rights at the hearing, which was held to consider both safety and privacy issues.

Mary Cummings, one of the U.S. Navy’s first female fighter pilots and now director of the Duke University humans and autonomy laboratory, said the U.S.“needs to move more expeditiously” toward introducing unmanned aircraft to the National Airspace System. “While I applaud the FAA’s recent, but very late, naming of its six unmanned aerial system test sites, I, like most experts in this field, agree that it is unlikely that theFAA will meet its charge to open our national airspace to drones by 2015,” she said. “While we are making some progress toward this goal, the United States is lagging, not leading, the commercial drone boom.”

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