House hearing sheds light on UAS tech, economic impacts

By Luke Geiver | November 19, 2015

A sense-and-avoid technology equipped small unmanned aircraft vehicle was on full display today during a congressional hearing on UAS. A team from Intel demonstrated its RealSense technology during the middle of a hearing to emphasize how the company—along with others in the industry—are advancing technology at a rapid pace in the UAS industry. Following opening statements from Josh Walden, senior vice president and general manager of the new technology group at Intel, the Intel team performed a live demonstration of the system.

The demo was part of a hearing held for the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The talk was labeled, “The Disrupter Series: The Fast-Evolving Uses and Economic Impacts of Drones,” and included Brian Wynne, president and CEO of the Association of Unmanned Vehicles Systems International.

“Entrepreneurship and innovation are part of this country’s foundation and we should be searching for ways to position the U.S. as a leader in drone technology development,” said Rep. Michael Burgess, R-TX.

In his prepared remarks, Wynne noted the economic impact of UAS to the U.S. that his association has been touting for more than a year. “UAS will have a significant impact on our economy, as the industry is poised to be one of the fastest-growing in American history,” he said. “Our economic impact study found that during the first decade following UAS integration into the National Airspace System, the industry will create more than 100,000 high-paying jobs and provide more than $82 billion in positive impact to the nation’s economy,” adding that, “under the right regulatory environment, there’s no question these numbers could go even higher.”

Prior to the hearing, Peter Cleveland, vice president of global public policy at Intel, issued a statement regarding the hearing. Intel is particularly invested in the future of the drone industry because we see its potential—drones, like wearables and vehicles, are a computing platform of the future, he said. “But, before we get there, ensuring safety and privacy is critical. Intel has been hard at work on this—actively investing in impressive drone companies, collaborating with regulators and making important technological contributions to the advancement of the industry,” Cleveland said.

In particular to the UAS industry, Intel has created a unique sense-and-avoid system that acts as a sense-and-avoid sensor. Earlier this year, Intel released a video showing the system at work. A sUAV equipped with the system was shown flying through a forest without colliding with any trees due to the systems ability. The system has privacy protections builit-in, according to Intel, because the data collected by the system is only needed and used for collision avoidance. “While there is still more work to do, innovations like this will help shape a safe and responsible drone industry,” Cleveland also said.

In addition to Intel and AUVSI, the hearing also included John Villasenor, professor of public policy, electrical engineering and management at UCLA, and, Margot Kaminski, assistant professor at the Moritz School of Law at Ohio State University.