Unmanned air systems' road to public acceptance has been hit by a spate of advocacy issues snarling industry progress in Congress, state legislatures and government agencies since the 2011 bill approving their future use.
The Small UAS Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is still sitting on the Federal Aviation Administration's shelf, more than two and a half years since it was initially delayed. It is scheduled to be released for public comment in January, although AUVSI's advocacy team says this deadline may not be met. The FAA did recently type-certify the Insitu ScanEagle and AeroVironment Puma for Arctic commercial operations. The UAS Test Site selection process is due to make progress, with site selections happening in late 2013.
Privacy is still an issue at the forefront of UAS integration. In 2013, 15 different bills have been introduced by Congress to try and curb UAS adoption. Many states have also introduced anti-UAS legislation. However, of the 42 bills that have been introduced, 20 have been defeated.
In the automated vehicle sector, this year the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released its "Preliminary Statement of Policy Concerning Automated Vehicles," which is aimed at shaping state laws related to testing self-driving vehicles. To date, three states and the District of Columbia have passed legislation, with 11 more state bills in the works.
In maritime news, at this conference AUVSI is standing up its new Maritime Advisory Committee, which will focus on assisting and identifying issues in that domain. The 15-member group includes representatives from academia, industry and government.