FAA Drone Task Force Members Include Amazon, Google, Walmart

Also named to the Task Force are Best Buy, 3D Robotics and representatives of as aircraft groups, law enforcement and other organizations.

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The drone task force that the Federal Aviation Administration has put together to make recommendations for creating drone registration rules in the United States has named its members, which include representatives from Google, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart and a wide range of aviation and other groups.

The Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Registration Task Force is being co-chaired by Earl Lawrence, director of the FAA's UAS Integration Office, and Dave Vos of Google X, according to an Oct. 29 announcement from the FAA. The agency had announced the creation of the task force on Oct. 19 as it works to deal with the growing problem of irresponsible drone use across the country.

The task force members are charged with having a set of recommendations ready by Nov. 20, including requirements for drone registration, which would go into effect by mid-December 2015. One of the key goals of the registration requirement is to allow the FAA to be able to identify the owners and operators of unmanned aircraft in U.S. airspace.

Participating on the task force are Nancy Egan of 3D Robotics; Richard Hanson of the Academy of Model Aeronautics; George Novak of the Aerospace Industries Association; Chuck Hogeman and Randy Kenagy of the Air Line Pilots Association; Jim Coon of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association; Sean Cassidy of Amazon Prime Air; Ben Gielow of Amazon Retail; Justin Towles of the American Association of Airport Executives; and Brian Wynne of the Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.

Also on the task force are Parker Brugge of Best Buy; Douglas Johnson of the Consumer Electronics Association; Brendan Schulman of drone maker DJI; Paul Feldman of the General Aviation Manufacturers Association; Tony Bates of GoPro; Matt Zuccaro of the Helicopter Association International; Mike Fergus of the International Association of Chiefs of Police; John Perry of the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors; Brandon Declet of drone-as-a-service provider Measure; Randall Burdett of the National Association of State Aviation Officials; Sarah Wolf of the National Business Aviation Association; Baptiste Tripard of drone vendor Parrot; Tyler Collins of data acquisition vendor PrecisionHawk; Gregory McNeal of the Small UAV Coalition; and Thomas Head of Walmart.

Each member was invited by the FAA to participate and volunteered to be a part of the effort.

The FAA is also accepting comments about proposed drone registration rules from the public and any other interested parties through a public docket, while the Federal Register notice about the proceedings is also available for viewing.

The task force members will meet formally from Nov. 3 to 5 to create recommendations about how to assemble a streamlined registration process and minimum requirements for the registration of unmanned aircraft, according to the FAA. "Given the urgency of this issue, the [U.S. Department of Transportation] and FAA will move expeditiously to consider the Task Force's recommendations," the FAA said.

Other federal government agencies that will provide help to the task force include the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of the Interior, the Office of Management and Budget, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Department of State.

The next steps include deciding which types of unmanned aircraft will fall under the requirement of a drone that must be registered, how those registrations will be recorded and how they will be connected to specific drones. Currently, the FAA is prohibited from creating new rules that would require operators of unmanned aircraft to be licensed if they're used for recreation, although the agency is now requiring that operators of commercial drones hold pilot's licenses.

A wide range of businesses, from e-retailer Amazon to agricultural businesses, photographers, energy production companies, news operations and others, have been clamoring for the ability to use drones for several years, but have been prevented from doing so until the FAA implements regulations to ensure their safe operation, according to earlier eWEEK stories. The companies have been arguing that delays in implementing drone rules in the United States have kept businesses from benefiting from cost savings and new revenue from their use.