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Diana Cooper


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Diana serves as Vice President of Legal and Policy Affairs at PrecisionHawk. Prior to joining PrecisionHawk, Diana developed and led the UAS and Robotics Practice Group at the law firm of LaBarge Weinsten. Diana is a robotics law thought leader who has presented at venues including Stanford University, Columbia University, New York University, IEEE and NASA. She is often quoted as an expert in the field of drones and robotics by media outlets including Forbes, The New York Times, The Guardian, Popular Science, The Globe and Mail, and CNET.



by   -   November 22, 2016
Drone in flight. Credit: CC0 Public Domain
Drone in flight. Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Over the last couple of years, we have seen an increase in state regulation of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS). A recent report published by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) titled “A Guide to State Laws Impacting UAS/UAV Operations” identifies the restriction of operations near critical infrastructure among the leading trends in state regulation of UAS. Notwithstanding the emergence of state regulation in this field, the enactment of the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act, 2016 (the “Act”), indicates that Congress intends to vest the authority to protect critical infrastructure from UAS with the FAA. In light of this development, states that have enacted laws or are considering regulating in this field, should consult with the FAA in order to promote a unified national framework that addresses local concerns.

by   -   October 25, 2016
Drone flying over a field.
Drone flying over a field.

On July 15, 2016, Congress enacted the FAA Extension, Safety, and Security Act (the “Act”), which among other things, directs the Secretary of Transportation to establish a process to enable applicants to petition the FAA Administrator to “prohibit or restrict the operation of an unmanned aircraft in close proximity to a fixed site facility.” Congress tasked the FAA with establishing a process for designating fixed site facilities no later than 180 days from the date of enactment. Below is an outline of the key problematic provisions in Section 2209 and a proposed path forward for establishing a process that meets the Congressional directive while not unnecessarily restricting industry.  

by   -   June 21, 2016

Aeryon_SkyRanger_drone_UAV

This morning, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released the highly anticipated rules governing the operation of small UAS (sUAS) for commercial purposes.  The new rules are scheduled to take effect in late August – until that time, commercial operators may continue to operate under Section 333 exemptions.  As expected, Part 107 generally follows the proposed rules that were contained in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that was issued by the FAA in February 2015.

by   -   September 1, 2015

drone_target_law_mark_arrow_UAVLast week, the California state Assembly approved Senate Bill 142 which, if adopted, would restrict drone operators from flying below 350 feet above ground level (AGL) over real property unless they obtain the owner’s permission. The Bill passed on a 43-11 vote and will proceed to the Governor who will have an opportunity to veto it. Although the intent of the Bill – the protection of privacy – merits pursuit, the Bill as amended on June 30th is problematic in multiple respects and should be denied passage.

by   -   June 1, 2015
image: Matt Chamberlain - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGebSYGvlns
image: Matt Chamberlain.

On May 28th, Transport Canada released a Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) outlining proposed changes to the regulatory framework governing small UAVs. If adopted, the changes would take effect in 2016. The deadline to submit comments is August 28th.

by   -   March 16, 2015

Should drones with remote control be considered autonomous? In Canada, apparently not.

by   -   March 3, 2015

Here is a breakdown of the Canadian approach to risk management for nighttime flights…

by   -   March 2, 2015

In Canada, BVLOS operations are not yet mainstream, however they are attainable under the Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) system.

Various aspects of the anticipated proposed small UAS (sUAS) regulations that were released by the FAA draw inspiration from Canada’s approach to regulation.

photo: FAA
photo: FAA

This past Sunday the FAA held a conference call to announce its highly anticipated small UAS (sUAS) regulations. Sunday morning might strike as odd timing, however it’s likely that the timing had to do with the leak of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regulatory Evaluation, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems, which I wrote about here. Below is a summary of the critical aspects of the proposed regulations from the FAA summary (the proposed rules have not been made available at the time of writing).

FAA-Puma

A new document purporting to be prepared by the FAA Office of Aviation Policy and Plans provides hints regarding the anticipated proposed small UAS (sUAS) regulations. The possible leaked document is dated February 2015 and is titled “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking Regulatory Evaluation, Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems.” The document’s authenticity has not been established, however assuming that the document is authentic, here are some of the more noteworthy insights into the upcoming proposed regulations…

by   -   February 3, 2015
The Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) surrounding Washington, D.C. Source: Wikipedia.
The Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) surrounding Washington, D.C. Source: Wikipedia.

Shortly after a Phantom crash-landed on the grounds of the White House, its maker, DJI, announced that it would release a mandatory firmware update that would restrict flights within 15.5 miles of downtown Washington, D.C.

Fotokite tethered drone.
Fotokite tethered drone.

In November, Transport Canada issued Staff Instruction 623-001, which provides guidance on the review and processing of Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) applications. Among the issues addressed are whether an SFOC is required for indoor and tethered drone operations. Below is a summary of Transport Canada’s position…

by   -   January 12, 2015
Source: Wikipedia
Source: Wikipedia

Canada’s relatively favorable framework for commercial UAV operations is attracting interest among foreign operators who are frustrated with restrictions in their home jurisdictions. The following provides a breakdown of Canadian regulations affecting foreign commercial operators…

How can we move forward and change our perceptions about robots?