Michigan task force pushes for state regulation of drone use near ‘key facilities’

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Lansing – A Michigan task force on drones is recommending that the state enact regulations aimed at preventing drone operator “interference” near electrical utility structures and other “key facilities” related to chemical manufacturing or gasoline storage.

The Michigan Unmanned Aircraft Systems Task Force issued 13 recommendations in a report released Nov. 20. With regard to key facilities, members recommended that the legislation “include no specific airspace restriction, but rather a prohibition on a certain conduct such as ‘interference’ or similarly defined term.”

In a Nov. 22 press release, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder (D) said that “as the use of drones becomes more popular for commercial and recreational use, it is critically important that we develop a statewide policy to ensure the safety of Michiganders while still allowing the creative freedom necessary for developing new applications for this technology. I appreciate the work this task force has done and look forward to working with my legislative partners to implement their recommendations.”

Other recommendations include:

  • Create an Unmanned Aerial System Joint Program Office for streamlining public agency efforts.
  • Establish drone education and outreach programs for government, law enforcement and other users.
  • Evaluate previous regulation of drone interference with police, fire, paramedic, and search and rescue operations, assuring the inclusion of other appropriate public safety personnel.
  • Expand the mission of the American Center for Mobility, including drones and autonomous aerial vehicles and systems.

Snyder signed a bill in January 2017 establishing the task force.

“The task force members recognize that public awareness for all users will be essential to prevent misunderstandings, inadvertent violations of laws and potentially dangerous situations,” task force Chair Mike Trout said in the release. “A robust education effort will be a necessary complement to the regulatory framework.”

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