Blog – On the Radar

Fox attorneys monitor the steady developments in drone technology and the federal and state laws and regulations that cover them. Our blog, On the Radar, tracks legal updates and news about drones/UAS for a growing audience of businesses and users. Practice leader Mark J. Connot, associate Jason J. Zummo and others in the practice group discuss the legal, regulatory, and public policy issues involving UAS, including analysis of federal and state law considerations that may arise.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Autonomous Drones: Rise of the Machines This weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the New York City Drone Film Festival in Tribeca and appear on a panel with some of my Fox colleagues about legal issues in the drone world.  I also watched the panel on drone technology that was immediately prior to the law panel and was introduced to a truly impressive piece of technology, the Skydio R1 drone.  The R1, unlike other consumer drones on the market, is fully autonomous, meaning it flies... More
  • A Brief Review Of Key Legal Issues Affecting Drones in 2017 Now that 2017 is wrapped up, a look back at what happened in drone world in 2017 and a look to what might happen in 2018 is warranted. While there were several exciting developments, this article will focus on a handful of those deemed among the most significant. Drone usage, both recreational and commercial, continues to grow quickly. As drone usage grows, the need for regulations to permit the safe operation becomes more and more critical. We have now competed the first... More
  • Trump Orders FAA to Get Drone Regulations Off the Ground The Federal Aviation Administration has been slow to enact regulations allowing drones to operate commercially in the United States.  In 2016, the FAA published rules allowing very limited use of drones for commercial purposes. While the FAA did need to get rules in place to ensure public safety, it also needed to develop a system and framework to allow for the growing use of drones for a variety of commercial purposes. Unfortunately, that has not happened. Copyright: pigprox / 123RF Stock... More
  • What State and Local Laws Will Fly When it Comes to Drones? Drone laws today are confusing.  Looking around the country we see that many states and cities have passed their own laws and regulations to ban or restrict the use of drones.  For example, in Texas, Texas Government Code Section 423 provides that an individual commits an offense if they use a drone to “capture an image of an individual or privately owned real property with the intent to conduct surveillance on the individual or property captured in the image.”  Thus,... More
  • InterDrone and the Future of Commercial Drones Earlier this month, I attended the InterDrone Conference in Las Vegas.  InterDrone brings together commercial drone operators, service providers, and tech companies, and included excellent key note speeches and informative panels on an array of topics. One of the main takeaways from the conference was that while some of the focus remains on the expansion of drone operation (i.e. beyond visual line of sight, etc.), most people share an optimism that the necessary regulations will come in the near future.  The general consensus seems... More
  • Drones, Hurricane Harvey, and other Natural Disasters While drones have been used to capture breathtaking and heartbreaking images of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath,  the FAA has issued a warning to drone operators. The FAA has issued reminders that unless drone operators have specific authorization from the FAA, they are not permitted to operate where Temporary Flight Restrictions (“TFR”) are in place.  The primary reason is that operating an unauthorized drone in these areas could interfere with local, state, and federal rescue missions. The FAA notes that if a... More
  • The Dark Side of Drones There is no doubt that drones are going to drastically improve our lives. Drones are already being used to deliver medical supplies in third-world countries, survey land, film live events, assist police in investigations and surveillance, inspect tall buildings and other large structures, among other things. But, these advances in technology will come with a price when it comes to safety and preventing terrorism in the United States. Drones have reportedly already been used by drug cartels to smuggle drugs into... More
  • Drones and Cybersecurity Concerns Earlier this month, the U.S. Army discontinued the use of DJI drones due to concerns over cybersecurity.  This follows NASA and the Department of Energy who also prohibit the use of DJI drones for similar reasons.  DJI, a China-based company, is the world’s largest drone manufacturer and has a whopping 70 percent market share.  Under DJI’s privacy policy, users agree that DJI has the right to collect information from flights, including photos, videos, and location information. It is unclear what DJI... More
  • Autonomous Drones — Moral and Ethical Concerns The focus of this blog has been legal and policy issues regarding the civilian operation of drones. However, it is easy to forget that just a few short years ago, if you asked the person on the street the first thing to come mind if they heard the word “drone”, the vast majority would have responded “military”or some variant thereof. Military usage of drones has increased (and will continue to), but due to the fact that civilian application of drone technology... More
  • The Drone “Waiver” of the Future The FAA has recently partnered with various digital platforms to create the “Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability” (LAANC) in an effort to streamline waiver authorization in controlled airspace. Normally, the process to obtain a waiver to fly in controlled airspace can take 90 days or even longer. But for some commercial operators who may need to get in the air quickly, that process makes little sense. For example, when there is breaking news, a journalist cannot sit back and wait for the... More