Drone News: New Bill to Ban Chinese Drones, DJI Matrice 3D Leaks, and Zipline’s New Partnerships

Estimated read time 3 min read

Welcome to the Weekly UAS News Update. We have three stories for you this week. A new bill proposes a ban on Chinese drones at the federal level. There are DJI Matrice 3D leaks, and Zipline has formed a new partnership with healthcare providers in Ohio. Let’s dive in!

New Bill to Ban Chinese Drones

The first story this week is concerning. We have a new bill that would prohibit the federal government from purchasing Chinese drones. To clarify, this is a reintroduction of a bill that failed in the past. Florida Senator Rick Scott introduced the “American Safety Drone Act” in the Senate, and now Representative Gallagher from Wisconsin is trying to do the same in the House of Representatives.

This new bill is set to be announced this week. It would prevent the federal government from using tax dollars to buy UAV equipment from China. The bill would also require a federal report detailing the number of foreign commercial drones and covered unmanned aircraft procured by the federal departments.

At the non-federal level, the bill would bar local and state governments from purchasing Chinese drones using federal grants. Only a few states in the country are currently doing this, and we hope it doesn’t spread further.

Both Scott and Gallagher are trying to attach this to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). This strategy might be the only likely way for the bill to advance, as it’s unlikely to move on its own. Instead of a country of origin ban, we should have comprehensive standards that any drones used for the federal government must conform to.

Considering the political reasons behind this, the best way to address this is by visiting the DAA website, where you can find instructions on reaching out to your representative.

DJI Matrice 3D Leaks

Next up are some DJI leaks for the Matrice 3D. We’ve discussed this in the past, but there are new images of the drone and rumored pictures of a DJI Dock Mini. The Matrice 3D seems to be a simplified Matrice 3 Thermal with fixed arms, a top-mounted SDK port, and built-in RTK.

The new leaks about the Mini Dock suggest it has an angled channel for the Matrice 3D, contrasting with the flat landing pad seen on traditional DJI docks. The Matrice 3D looks slightly larger than the Mavic 3, with thicker arms and larger propellers.

These innovations are impressive, but in the US, we haven’t seen many places using these docks, possibly due to the required waivers.

Zipline’s New Partnerships

Lastly, Zipline has announced partnerships with several healthcare providers in Ohio and Michigan. In September, Zipline obtained Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) permission to operate beyond the visual line of sight without visual observers.

With this new partnership, Zipline aims to deliver prescriptions directly to homes by 2025. They will use the P2 system that cruises at 70 mph at an altitude of 300 feet and employs a small droid to drop packages. It’s exciting to see drones being used more for medicinal deliveries.

That’s all for this week. Have a great weekend, and we’ll see you live on Monday on our Airplane Channel for an airplane Q&A. We’ll also be back the following Monday on the Drone Channel. See you next week!

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