Apple hires drone and aviation law specialist to lobby Washington D.C.

DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone
DJI Mavic 2 Pro Drone

Apple has hired Lisa Ellman, a parter at Hogan Lovells and a specialist in drone and aviation law, to serve as a lobbyist in Washington D.C.

Mark Gurman and Ben Brody for Bloomberg:

Ellman leads the law firm’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice. She also co-founded the Commercial Drone Alliance and is working to expand the commercial drone industry, according to her biography online.

Ellman worked in the Obama administration and the Justice Department earlier in her career. Ellman’s lobbying work for Apple began in December, according to a company filing that was made public this week.

The company used drones a few years ago to help it collect mapping data. In December, it met with regulators about a proposed law that would require drones to sport virtual license plates. The company also sells several drones from DJI through the Apple website and Apple retail stores. Apple has a team exploring satellites, a type of unmanned aircraft, and Ellman could assist in regulatory efforts that would need to be conducted to launch such an effort.

MacDailyNews Take: In May, major technology and aerospace companies including Apple, Amazon, Intel, Qualcomm, and Airbus were reported to be vying to take part in a new slate of drone tests in the United States. The U.S. initiative, launched by President Donald Trump in 2017r, underscores the desire of a broad range of companies to have a say in how the fledgling industry is regulated and ultimately win authority to operate drones for everything from package delivery to crop inspection, Reuters reported at the time.

“The Trump Administration’s drone program is intended to make it easier for companies to test drones by having local authorities, tribal governments, companies, and the federal government work together,” Jonathan Vanian reported for Fortune in October 2017. “‘Overall this is a hugely important step forward,’ said attorney Lisa Ellman, who helps run the drone advocacy group Commercial Drone Alliance. ‘The intent is to open up the skies to commercial drones. It will help us gather data to inform future rule making.'”

“‘The beauty of this program is that the White House is allowing everyone from cities to states to tribal authorities to apply,’ Greg McNeal, co-founder of drone startup AirMap told Fortune in an email. ‘States and cities will apply to open the airspace for operations that they’re most interested in, that are the best fit for local conditions and complexities, and that allow them to welcome drone operations that can kickstart their drone economy,'” Vanian reported. “Drone advocacy group Small UAV Coalition, which represents companies like Google’s parent, Alphabet, and Amazon, also commended the program.”

Read more in the full article here: Everything to Know About President Donald Trump’s New Drone Program.

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