Skydio today announced that CEO Adam Bry has been appointed the US Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Drone Advisory Committee. He joins 34 other executives from the drone industry in this important role.
The appointment was made by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. (She announced her resignation today, one day after the attack on the Capitol.) Bry will serve for two years on the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC). The committee offers guidance on the safe integration of UAS into the national airspace. It represents the interests of those who manufacture and use drones. Representatives from industry, academia, drone service providers, and local and state governments make up the 35-member committee.
Skydio is now the largest US manufacturer of non-weaponized drones, so Bry is a good and obvious choice.
An important role
The opportunity to assist the FAA in formulating policy is an important one. It’s also a role Bry is clearly looking forward to carrying out:
I’m honored to be appointed to the Drone Advisory Committee at this key juncture for the drone industry. There is a clear opportunity for the US to lead the way in creating regulatory and policy frameworks for the safe deployment of these systems. I’m excited to serve on the committee to help make this a reality.Adam Bry, Skydio CEO and cofounder
An opportunity to help shape regulations
The committee is a vital cog, ensuring that the interests of the drone industry and users are taken into account. That’s important, because regulations governing drones will continue to evolve as we move forward. DJI’s Brendan Schulman just wrapped up a four-year tenure on that same committee, a position he used to help influence US drone policy on behalf of industry, service providers, and recreational pilots. In fact, the vice president of policy and legal affairs posted just days ago about wrapping up his time with the DAC. It’s clear from the scope he describes that this committee is an influential one:
I have been privileged to be one of the longest-serving members of the FAA Drone Advisory Committee since its inception over four years ago. As my term now ends, I am glad to have been not only a representative of the world’s largest drone manufacturer, DJI, but also an advocate for the commercial and recreational drone operators who are the heart of the industry in the United States. Looking back at the years of collaboration, we have made a difference by giving the FAA a perspective on matters of pivotal importance, including safety and security, funding of FAA drone initiatives, roles and responsibilities of federal, state & local government, remote ID, the commercial waiver process, controlled airspace approvals, and promoting a safety culture. The FAA deserves credit for soliciting these opinions from the industry, and for taking them seriously as they plan for the future. I am very pleased to see that the new slate of DAC members – replacing some of us old-timers – includes individual operators and small companies, adding important representation that I have repeatedly advocated for during several DAC meetings. I look forward to continuing to collaborate in various ways with government and industry stakeholders on our common mission of safe growth and innovation.Brendan Schulman, vice president of policy and legal affairs, DJI
The Skydio perspective
We don’t have a window into Adam Bry’s plans for this position. But it’s reasonable to assume that he will be pushing – at least some of the time – for the FAA to continue embracing the growing role that AI and automation will play in this sector.
Because Skydio’s drones are smart, they don’t actually require a pilot to be actively flying its machines during many typical missions. Skydio drones can carry out bridge and building inspections, for example, pretty much on their own. The only role for the pilot is to identify the structure he or she wants scanned, and then monitor the flight and surrounding airspace.
We’ve seen, already, that the FAA understands this technology. In fact, it has issued waivers allowing Skydio operators to carry out BVLOS work. The South Carolina Department of Transport has been granted a yearlong blanket BVLOS waiver for bridge inspections.
Now, the role played by smart drones is continuing to expand. So it would not be surprising if the FAA changed some of its language to recognize the role these machines play. CEO Bry will be in the right place at a critical time.
Every news release we receive generally contains an “about” section, where the company describes itself in a paragraph or two. Here’s what the Skydio release contained:
Skydio is the leading US drone manufacturer and world leader in autonomous flight. Skydio leverages breakthrough AI to create the world’s most intelligent flying machines for use by consumers, enterprises, and government customers. Founded in 2014, Skydio is made up of leading experts in AI, robotics, cameras, and electric vehicles from top companies, research labs, and universities from around the world. Skydio designs, assembles, and supports its products in the US from its headquarters in Redwood City, CA, to offer the highest standards of supply chain and manufacturing security. Skydio is trusted by leading enterprises across a wide range of industry sectors and is backed by top investors and strategic partners including Andreesen Horowitz, Levitate Capital, Next47, IVP, Playground, and NVIDIA.
You, too, can play a role
The Drone Advisory Committee holds meetings that are open to the public. What’s more, the public can write to the committee with suggestions or to highlight areas of concern. If either of these options appeal to you, you’ll fine more info on how to participate here.
Congratulations, Adam – and best of luck with this new responsibility.