Sky's the Limit: Legal Implications for Drones

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss drone technology laws and regulations that enable or prohibit small drone operations and pitfalls to avoid.
  • Identify opportunities for planning applications for drone technology. 
  • Initiate or contribute to discussions of drone technology with planning stakeholders.

More Course Details

Aerial drones (sometimes described as “UAS” or “UAV”), have a host of planning applications across urban, regional, rural, and agricultural geographies. From a general aerial surveying perspective, these applications frequently include site analysis and visualization, GIS mapping and modeling, and photosimulations. Sub-disciplines within the planning field such as transportation, environmental, and disaster planning already utilize small drones’ aerial sensors for real-time data collection, infrastructure inspection, project management, and project development. These technologies can facilitate new ways of practicing community engagement. Given the broad applications of this technology across multiple planning disciplines, there is a general need for planners to enhance their awareness of relevant federal regulations, administrative guidance published by the Federal Aviation Administration, and court cases that collectively define the legal operation of small drones. Essentially, if you plan to use this technology in your planning practice, you must know the rules. While acknowledging there are still significant gaps in the legal landscape for small drone operation, this program will discuss useful precedents to help you develop a use-case that is most likely to protect your planning practice and elected officials.. Even though state and federal legislatures continue to debate the regulatory environment to operate small drones, there is some present-day certainty regarding what state and local government can — and cannot — regulate. Our expert panelists will explain the ways in which your city or state planning department could use small drones to enhance your planning efforts, prepare you to navigate the risks in the grey area, and offer insight on how to avoid the pitfalls.

Planning & Law Division

Additional discount available for members of the Planning & Law Division.
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