- The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has approved five non-Chinese-made drone models for government use. Although the DOD announcement doesn’t mean contractors should scramble to retailers for new drones, it does provide a roadmap for security in purchasing drones.
- The five approved drones are Skydio’s X2-D, Parrot’s Anafi USA, Altavian’s M440 Ion, Teal Drones’ Golden Eagle and Vantage Robotics’ Vesper. All the drones are also available for commercial use.
- The 2020 National Defense Authorization Act prohibited the government from operating or buying Chinese drones. The makers of Skydio, Vantage, Altavian and Teal drones are based in the U.S. Parrot is based in France.
In May of 2019, the U.S Department of Homeland Security issued a concern about Chinese-made drones, saying sensitive, private flight data could be saved and sent to the Chinese government. At that point, the DHS advised consumers to be wary of purchasing Chinese-made drones, and to take precautions, such as removing secure digital cards and severing the drones’ internet connection.
The 2019 warning was not the first time Chinese-made drones raised national security concerns. In 2017, the U.S. Army banned the use of DJI drones, alleging that the firm transmitted critical infrastructure and law enforcement data collected through the devices to the Chinese government.
In other drone news, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week granted Amazon Prime Air a special exemption certificate which will allow the company to begin using drones for delivery within a limited test range. The specification covers only the Amazon-manufactured MK27 drone, which the company says is capable of delivering up to 85% of its deliveries. If Amazon wants to deliver outside the agreed test area, it will need an amendment to the approval. UPS received similar permissions last year for deliveries to hospitals and medical facilities.
While the government begins rolling out drone usage protocols and corporations up their drone delivery games, the flying machines already are mainstream for construction pros.
“Drones have become the go-to tool for construction firms to track, map, survey, inspect and manage worksites more efficiently and safely,” Dan Burton, founder of DroneBase, a drone pilot network that provides support for construction companies, told Construction Dive. “Through aerial imagery and data, builders can map projects, report progress updates and gain insights through advanced analytics to make better, faster and more reliable decisions."