Washington, DC – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology voted to advance H.R. 3560- the National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Research and Development Act of 2023 out of Committee. Sponsored by Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03), Chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, the National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Research and Development Act would provide for a coordinated Federal initiative to accelerate the United States’ leadership in unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) and advanced air mobility (AAM) research and development to strengthen economic and national security.
Oklahoma is ranked #1 in the United States, according to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, in preparedness for the drone industry. Oklahoma State University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Tulsa are leading national efforts investing in UAS and AAM research technologies- including with the establishment of the Oklahoma State University Unmanned Systems Research Institute in 2015 and the recent launch of the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute for Research and Education (OAIRE) at Oklahoma State University.
“We’re already dangerously behind when it comes to the production of UAS. To say China has cornered this market is an understatement,” said Chairman Lucas. “This bill will develop strong, safe, and secure domestic UAS and AAM industries that will grow our economy and counter foreign threats. I want to thank Ranking Member Lofgren for working with me to put together a strong bipartisan bill. I’m proud to move it forward at this critical time where we face mounting global competition.”
The National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Research and Development Act would:
- Establish a National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Initiative to coordinate UAS activities.
- Authorize a Network of Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Research Institutes to be supported by federal research agencies.
- Promote the development of voluntary standards for UAS.
- Mitigate risks to supply chains, public safety, and national security.
- Support and expand the U.S. workforce to integrate UAS across all sectors of the economy.
- Increase environmental observations and establish a data management strategy for scientific data.
- Establish a counter-UAS center of excellence to support the work necessary to improve our abilities to respond to threats from adversaries using UAS.
- Support research and development activities at the National Institute of Technology (NIST), National Science Foundation (NSF), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
In March, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing on, “Advanced Air Mobility: The Future of Unmanned Aircraft Systems and Beyond” where Dr. Jamey Jacob, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Institute for Research and Education and Williams Chair in Energy and Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Oklahoma State University, highlighted the need for support in UAS and AAM research and development stating, “We believe the future of advanced aviation is bright, and that the quality of life for all Americans can be enhanced by advancing and exploiting this emerging technology. Research conducted at land grant and other universities play a critical role in this potential prosperity, but we require the federal government’s support to ensure that these technologies flourish and provide the benefits to society that we know are possible.”
The National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Research and Development Act would also drive economic growth supporting the research, development, and deployment of UAS and AAM technologies that would strengthen national security efforts and expand transportation options within and between cities and improve delivery and transportation services to rural areas.
Currently, 90% of local and regional public safety agencies are using drones made by DJI, a Chinese drone manufacturer. The National Drone and Advanced Air Mobility Research and Development Act would strengthen America’s security and public safety and secure UAS and AAM supply chains in the United States.
According to reports, the Unmanned Aerial Systems market is expected to grow to more than $63 billion by 2025- up from $5 billion in 2018. The Advanced Air Mobility market is expected to increase to $115 billion by 2035, creating over 280,000 new jobs.
For more information on the bill, an executive summary of the legislation is available here and a fact sheet is available here.