Different, Better, Faster, More…Do UAS Taking Flight in Maryland Demand Changes to Law?

A Work Group reviews the types and applications of UAS (commonly called drones) in Maryland while considering any needed changes to State law for the technology and its use by members of the public.

The Unmanned Aerial Systems Work Group met this week at the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, hearing two presentations. The first presentation was from Rodney Likin, Special Operations with the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services. Rodney shared a detailed and gripping account of the interception of a plat to fly contraband into a maximum security prison in Western Maryland via drone.

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This large unmanned aerial system (UAS) can fly at speeds of up to 80 mph.

The second presentation was by Detective Charles Russell, Prince George’s County Police Department, who showed and described to the UAS Work Group a range of unmanned aerial systems (commonly called drones) and their capabilities.

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The UAS Work Group saw UAS of various shapes, sizes, and capabilities at its recent meeting.

The Work Group, which includes MACo and county representation, must produce a report for the Governor and General Assembly on revisions to law needed to confront expanding use of UAS.

At this meeting and in previous meetings, the Work Group discussed:

  • Law Enforcement education needed to help in identifying and reporting incidents of misuse of unmanned aerial systems (UAS)
  • State and local coordination with the FAA and the limitations of federal and state enforcement capabilities
  • Whether there may be changes needed to definitions of trespass or nuisance to accommodate UAS
  • Whether there may be a need to protect those who stop UAS intruding on their property from liability for costs of damages to the UAS
  • Whether to change definitions of critical infrastructure in State code, and consider the applicability of FAA regulations to all critical infrastructure in Maryland, and to maintain local authority over the definition of critical infrastructure.
  • Recent legislation passed in Virginia on UAS

For more information, see MACo Explores Government Applications for DronesIncidents of Unsafe Use of Drones Will Shape Report & Recommendations.

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