Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member on Senate Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced today the formation of the Senate Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) Caucus. The mission of the bipartisan caucus will be to educate Senators and staff on the capabilities and concerns of UAS and to work closely together to best shape the UAS policymaking process.
“I have heard from constituents and agree with their concerns with expanding Unmanned Aerial Systems. One of the purposes of this caucus is to ensure we address these risks and protect Americans’ constitutional rights, while also proving a way forward with UAS operations that improves our national security and emergency and disaster response,” said Senator Inhofe. “Oklahoma is experienced in UAS testing, research, development and operations, and it will play an important role in the education and collaboration within the caucus. We are nationally known for our UAS-related research at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University, including the first-in-the-nation graduate program in UAS. It’s an honor to represent Oklahoma through this new caucus and to join forces with my colleague Sen. Manchin.”
“The increased use of Unmanned Aerial Systems carries great potential – and great risk,” Senator Manchin said. “It’s important for all of us to understand how we can use this advancing technology to strengthen our national security and improve our ability to respond in case of natural or man-made disasters, while at the same time ensuring the privacy of all of our law-abiding American citizens. I am so appreciative of Senator Inhofe’s work on this issue, and I look forward to working together in a bipartisan way to keep our colleagues updated on the emerging policy issuesinvolving this technology.”
The primary use of UAS has been for military intelligence collection but is now expanding into areas such as law enforcement, surveying, monitoring forest fires, search and rescue, and disaster response. The growth of UAS has raised concerns regarding safety, privacy, command and control, airspace deconfliction, and standards and regulations. With the exponential growth in UAS technology and industry, the UAS Caucus will serve as a venue to discuss and vet these issues and will work in coordination with federal agencies, industries, and stakeholders.
The House of Representatives has a UAS caucus as well, co-chaired by Reps. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) and Henry Cuellar (D-Texas).