New ABA book offers aerial view of drones

Recent news of unmanned aircraft sightings near commercial aircraft is enough to have regulators, passengers and enthusiasts looking at recent laws governing its usage. Though advancements in drone technology continue to unfold daily, the laws are not traveling at the same speed.

A new book from the American Bar Association, “Unmanned Aircraft in the National Airspace: Critical Issues, Technology, and the Law,” from the ABA Section of Science and Technology offers a roadmap of the quickly changing technology and how it intersects with the law.

Donna A. Dulo, the lead author and editor, is a mathematician, computer scientist, software/systems engineer, and a leading legal scholar in the area of unmanned aircraft law. She writes in chapter 1, “What can be thought of as a model or hobby aircraft taking pictures for the personal photo album of its operator, for example, can suddenly be classified as a commercial aerial application if one of the photographs is sold for a profit. The legal complexities of unmanned aircraft law are thus increasing as their use becomes more widespread and diverse.”

The chapters are focused on various aspects of unmanned aircraft, including: history and overview of the technology and the law; processes that govern Federal Aviation Administration Rulemaking; safety, security, and information assurance regulations; constitutional issues (media, surveillance and weapons; product liability and insurance.

Dulo assembled preeminent leaders  to contribute to the discussion.

Stephen S. Wu, Silicon Valley Law Group, notes in the book that serious consideration of security threats must be part of an unmanned aircraft manufacturer’s risk management process. “If attackers are able to use malicious code to control unmanned aircraft, they could cause them to stop flying, steer in the wrong direction, or otherwise cause an accident,” Wu writes.

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