House Committees Hold Hearing on Drone Use in Emergency Response

The U.S. House of Representatives convened a joint hearing titled “Unmanned Aerial Systems: An Examination of the Use of Drones in Emergency Response.” Hosted by the Committee on Homeland Security’s Subcommittees on Emergency Management and Technology, and Counterterrorism, Law Enforcement, and Intelligence, the hearing examined the benefits and challenges of drone technology in public safety missions.

House hearing on drones, May 16 2024.

Testimonies Highlight Drone Efficacy and Security Concerns

Michael Robbins, President and CEO of the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), testified on the life-saving applications of drones, urging Congress to support grant programs for secure UAS adoption and to address FAA airspace constraints. “Drones are saving lives in emergency response operations,” Robbins stated, emphasizing their role in reducing risks for first responders.

Kaz Daughtry and John M. Chell from the New York City Police Department, Kevin Fetterman from the Orange County Fire Authority, and Rahul Sidhu, CEO of Aerodome, also provided testimonies. They discussed operational successes and the need for federal guidance to mitigate national security risks.

Robbins emphasized the life-saving potential of drones, stating, “The use of our industry’s technology in public safety is unquestionably a very positive use case. Drones are saving lives in emergency response operations. They are being relied on to reduce the risk posed to first responders, every day, in communities across the nation.”

His written testimony highlighted several key areas:

  • The necessity for Congress to enact grant programs to assist public safety agencies in transitioning to secure Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).
  • The importance of bolstering the domestic manufacturing supply chain for UAS.
  • The need to address Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airspace access constraints.

Other Testimonies and Concerns

Other witnesses included Kaz Daughtry and John M. Chell from the New York City Police Department, Kevin Fetterman from the Orange County Fire Authority, and Rahul Sidhu, Founder and CEO of Aerodome.

Emergency Management and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) discussed the broad benefits of drone use in emergency response while emphasizing the importance of addressing national security concerns. He urged the federal government and intelligence community to share security information with law enforcement to ensure precautions without stifling innovation.

Chairman D’Esposito’s Remarks

Chairman Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY) acknowledged the extensive benefits of drones while highlighting the necessity of balancing innovation with national security. He called for continued federal and intelligence community support to provide necessary security information to law enforcement agencies.

AUVSI’s Upcoming Hill Day

AUVSI plans to convene its members next month for its annual Hill Day, where members will discuss policies with lawmakers to enhance the deployment of uncrewed systems for public safety and emergency response. This includes participation from AUVSI’s Defense, Air, Maritime, Ground, and Cyber Advocacy Committees.

For more details, refer to the full testimony document.