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On the Radar – Drones and Unmanned Autonomous Systems

Jason is a co-editor and regularly contributes to On the Radar, a blog that provides practical information and useful tips related to the legal, regulatory and public policy issues involving unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), including analysis of federal (FAA, FCC) and state law considerations that may arise. At Fox Rothschild, we serve clients across numerous disciplines crucial to UAS development and operations, including intellectual property, venture capital, transactional law, corporate law, regulatory matters, litigation and employment law.

Recent Blog Posts

  • Drone Preemption – Federal vs. State Power to Regulate Drones Some of the legal issues discussed in this blog merit a more in-depth analysis and discussion. That level of analysis and discussion, however, is not well-suited for a blog, due to length and other issues. For that reason, we also publish in other forums which are better suited to a more in-depth analysis and discussion. An example of an issue meriting more in-depth analysis and discussion is the tension between federal versus state regulation of drones. State and local laws regulating drones... More
  • Watching You Watching Me: Privacy Concerns in the Use of Drones As a uniquely transformative technology, drones have the capacity to enrich our daily lives with innovative services, safer infrastructure, new forms of recreation, and countless  economic opportunities. These positive characteristics, however, cannot erase the risks drones pose to individual privacy. But the FAA opted not to include any privacy provisions in Part 107 for one important reason: it couldn’t. Drone technology sparks concerns about personal privacy, data privacy, private property rights, and intellectual property rights—often stemming from cameras and other high-tech equipment installed on drones. But there appears to... More
  • Part 107 Rules Take Effect Today “Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.â€� – Aristotle “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.â€� – The Dude It has been a long time coming. Indeed, it was over 4 years ago that Congress approved the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012 (FMRA) requiring the FAA to integrate drones into the National Airspace System. To that end, the FMRA directed the FAA to issue rules to regulate commercial drones and have the rules finalized by September 30, 2015. In... More
  • First Amendment in the Sky – Drones, Part 107, and Free Speech – Part II: Unto the Breach In June 2016, the FAA released its final Part 107 rules, allowing the operation of commercial drones in the National Airspace System (NAS). Whether these rules are infringing on the First Amendment is a developing topic. In Part I, we discussed the First Amendment and the different standards of review courts apply to determine whether restrictions on speech are constitutional. Here, we will explore and analyze the FAA’s argument that Part 107 is consistent with the First Amendment. Restrictions on Speech... More
  • First Amendment in the Sky – Drones, Part 107, and Free Speech – Part I Drones have a long history of being used to capture and share data. Beginning in the 1800s enterprising photographers used balloons and kites to lift cameras hundreds of feet into the sky to capture stunning images of American cities. Similarly, in Europe, not only were kites and balloons used to capture aerial shots, photographers’ also affixed cameras to pigeons for wartime surveillance. These early—and archaic—uses of drones show some of the unique benefits drones offer those seeking to capture and... More
  • A Mind of Their Own: Autonomous Drone Operations Seeking to reinvent the delivery process for humanitarian, online retail, and food delivery industries, a Nevada company successfully executed—a few months before the release of Part 107—the first fully autonomous drone delivery in an urban setting. With a pilot and a few visual observers on standby, a black six-rotor drone flew itself along a pre-determined delivery route dropping off a five and a half pound package containing bottled water, emergency food, and a first aid kit at an uninhabited house.... More
  • Drones, Part 107, and Pending Section 333 Exemptions On June 21, 2016, the FAA released what is known as Part 107, which are the FAA’s rules regulating the commercial operation of drones weighing less than 55 pounds. Before the issuance of these new rules, however, a person seeking to fly a drone for commercial purposes was required to petition the FAA for authorization. In particular, there were three ways to lawfully conduct drone operations: (1) as public aircraft operations pursuant to the requirements of the public aircraft statute... More
  • Commercial Drone Operators Rejoice – FAA Final Part 107 Rules Released! In 2012, Congress approved the FAA Modernization and Reform Act (FMRA) requiring the FAA to integrate drones into the National Airspace System (NAS). To that end, the FMRA specifically directed the FAA to issue proposed rules to fully regulate commercial drones and have the rules finalized by September 30, 2015. Hence, the FAA published a Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM)—or Part 107—in early 2015. In a previous article, we discussed these proposed rules. The September 30, 2015, deadline... More
  • Guidelines for Neighborly Drone Use   On May 24, 2016, we published an article discussing the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (“NTIAâ€�) issuance of Best Practices for privacy and other issues surrounding drone use. Attached as an Appendix to those Best Practices is a list of guidelines for neighborly drone use intended to be a quick and easy reference guide for recreational drone operators. It goes without saying that for recreational users it is worth reviewing, and is reproduced in its entirety below: Drones are useful. New, fairly cheap drones are easy to use. But... More
  • National Telecommunications and Information Administration Releases Voluntary Best Practices for Drones Drones are a uniquely transformative technology in the commercial and private sectors. Indeed, greater operational flexibility, lower capital requirements, and lower operating costs allow drones to enrich people’s daily lives by providing innovative services, safer infrastructure, recreational uses, and greater economic activity. The assimilation of this technology into everyday life, however, raises concerns for privacy, civil rights, and civil liberties. In recent years drone popularity has soared. According to the FAA there are about 5,600 drones registered for commercial purposes and... More