On the Radar – Drones and Unmanned Autonomous Systems

Mark 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

  • Public Perception and Policy regarding Drones and Autonomous Vehicles Recently I had the opportunity to speak to a college class regarding public perception and policy regarding drones and other autonomous vehicles. In preparing for my presentation, I realized several things that I already knew, but had not really thought about it. In considering how best to provide an overview of how quickly technology is adapted once people understand its capabilities, it dawned on me that today’s college students have only known a world with smart phones. The first iPhone was... More
  • Drone Regulations — The Future When will I be able to fly beyond visual line of sight? When will I be able to operate a drone over people? In the world of drone law (and in the world of drones in general), hardly a week, or even a day, passes without one or both of those questions being asked. The drone industry welcomed the long-awaited drone regulations of Part 107, which became effective in August of 2016. However, that only whetted our appetite for more. The current presidential... More
  • 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.” – Aristotle “Yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.” – 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