Drone News: 11 Arrested for Prison Flight, NYPD Drone Rafts, Bill to Ban DJI, & CEO Change at AUVSI

Estimated read time 4 min read

Welcome to the Weekly UAS News Update. We have four stories for you this week.

11 folks arrested after drones delivered contraband to prison

Firstly, 11 individuals were arrested after drones delivered Contraband to a federal prison. The Midow County Sheriff stated that his office was contacted in November following multiple tips about drone deliveries. An investigation was initiated, and between November and December, 11 people were arrested on charges including introduction or attempt to introduce contraband into a correctional facility, possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance, and unlawfully operating a drone for a terrorist act and felony conspiracy. Ironically, while most people attempt to break out of prison, flying a drone with contraband into the prison may actually land you in prison yourself. Not good. Don’t be that person. Don’t fly over prisons.

NYPD wants to use Drones Rafts

Next, the New York Police Department is proposing to use drones to assist lifeguards. Drones would be equipped with deployable rafts to aid distressed swimmers. And, amusingly enough, David Hasselhoff now has his Part 107 certificate.

But, in all seriousness, this is a great example of how drones can be used for good. The drones would not only have lifesaving measures, but the lifeguards would also continue to respond to the emergency, with the drone assisting in guiding the guards to swimmers after dropping the flotation device. It’s unclear at this stage which drone they plan on using, or if the operation will occur beyond the visual line of sight, or perhaps using a drone-in-a-box situation. We’ll keep you updated if we hear anything else.

Arizona Bill to Ban DJI

For our third story, we turn to our home state, Arizona, where yet another bill has been introduced to ban the use of Chinese drones for public safety. The bill also seeks to ban flights over certain critical infrastructures, including electrical power delivery systems, transportation systems and services, telecommunication networks, water supply refinement, oil and gas production and delivery systems, and personal data or otherwise classified information storage systems, including cybersecurity. If you’re in Arizona, please reach out to your local senator to let them know what you think about this proposed bill. There’s a lot to digest here, so we’ll put a link in the description.

AUVSI new Leadership

Lastly, there’s been a quiet change of leadership at AUVSI with the departure of Brian W., who was the CEO there for nine years. He’s being replaced by two co-CEOs—an interesting concept. Heather Lee, who maintained her title of Chief Operating Officer, and now also co-CEO, and Michael Robbins, the Chief Advocacy Officer, who is also now the co-CEO.

While the organization’s website reflects the recent change, there hasn’t been any official press release about the departure, leading to questions about whether it was voluntary. In an industry composed of nearly 400,000 remote pilots and millions of recreational users, AUVSI represents 7,500 members in 60 different Countries, according to W.’s LinkedIn profile.

AUVSI has been heavily criticized lately, primarily by public safety users, for their stance on trying to exclude DJI from the UAS industry.

With Robbins at the helm, we can expect a much stronger push towards anti-China sentiment in the very near future. On that topic, industry friends Vic Moss and Kyle Nordfors will be participating in a virtual dialogue hosted by AUVSI on February 27th at 1:30 p.m. Eastern Time.

Details are in the description. Make sure you attend and voice your opinion.

And that’s it. That’s all we have for you this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next week.

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