Drone industry veterans launch Commercial Drone Alliance; Independent non-profit organization dedicated to growing the commercial drone ecosystem

commercial drone alliance


Focus on Lawmaker Education, Benefits of Drones and Positive Public Perception

Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley – Lisa Ellman and Gretchen West, two drone industry veterans with a combined 20 years in government policymaking and unmanned aircraft systems advocacy, today announce the formation and official launch of the Commercial Drone Alliance (The Alliance). This industry-led, independent and non-profit association is dedicated to supporting enterprise end-users interested in adopting drone technology and enabling commercial market growth.

From catastrophe response, to precision agriculture, to infrastructure inspection, to newsgathering, to construction site monitoring and everything in between, commercial drones are making valuable contributions and represent one of the fastest growing sectors in technology. In its most recent aviation forecast, the FAA predicted that sales of drones for commercial purposes are expected to grow from 600,000 this year to more than 2.7 million by 2020. However, skepticism and fundamental misunderstandings have led to efforts to stunt the growth of this industry.

The Alliance will focus on educating lawmakers on the benefits of commercial drones, changing the conversation about the technology to shape positive public perception, overcoming public policy hurdles that suppress growth, highlighting value propositions for end users, coordinating consensus-based standards development, and drafting policy based on technology and innovation.

Founding Alliance board members include Cisco, AirMap, Lift, DataWing and Measure. Additional members include CNN, Aerialtronics, Nightingale Intelligent Systems, Skyspecs and Talon Aerolytics. The growing Alliance membership will include end users, manufacturers, insurance providers, investors, service providers and relevant associations who have all demonstrated a passion and commitment for growing the commercial drone industry in a way that promotes safety and security.

“LIFT Technologies is excited to be part of the Commercial Drone Alliance. It’s critical to us and the industry as a whole that we ensure commercial drones in work environments such as construction, infrastructure inspection, public safety and everything in between are as safe or more so than any other commercial business tool,” said Michael Latiner, LIFT Technologies. “Our goal is to ensure the public is confident that its privacy and security are protected and understand the benefits drones afford us. We look forward in working with the Commercial Drone Alliance, policymakers and other stakeholders in moving the industry forward.”

“In order for a transformative technology to take hold and positively impact society, there needs to be a trusted ecosystem that forms around it,” said Gregory McNeal, co-founder of AirMap. “We are excited to serve on the board of the Commercial Drone Alliance, and are confident that we will achieve the Alliance’s vision of growing our industry through safety measures and standards.  We look forward to working with policymakers on innovations that help the public welcome drones into their everyday lives so we can all benefit from this amazing technology.”

“The Commercial Drone Alliance gives the drone industry a powerful, centralized voice so that industry can be well represented in legislative and regulatory matters that affect the use of these machines for the enterprise,” said Brandon Torres Declet, CEO of Measure. “Aerial data collected by drones offer a broad range of benefits that can improve efficiency and reduce cost, but the regulatory roadmap to operating at scale is still unclear. Measure is proud to be a founding board member of the Commercial Drone Alliance and excited to welcome and support new members looking to help build the commercial drone sector in a safe and secure manner.”

“The Commercial Drone Alliance will link technology, industry, the public and policy-makers on a common path. As a strong industry advocate and proud Board Member, DataWing is dedicated to helping the Alliance manifest the benefits of drone-related technology and communicate to the world that drones are coming and they are great tools,” said Alliance board member Steven Fargo of DataWing.

The Alliance is co-led by drone industry leaders Gretchen West and Lisa Ellman. “We are thrilled to see the Commercial Drone Alliance come to fruition after spending so much time engaging with and talking to the drone community and end users to understand their needs,” said Lisa Ellman, co-executive director, Commercial Drone Alliance.

“We’re excited to work with and for this community and focus on the challenges inhibiting drone technology adoption. The enthusiasm of our members and partners from all parts of this ecosystem is what is going to advance our goals to success,” stated Alliance co-executive director Gretchen West.

Ms. West served for more than a decade as Executive Vice President of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) and was instrumental in advocating for the safe, timely and responsible integration of UAS into the national airspace.  She is now a Senior Advisor for Technology and Innovation at the law firm Hogan Lovells US LPP.

Ms. Ellman has held a variety of positions at top levels of the Executive branch at the White House and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) where she led DOJ’s effort to develop policy that would govern the use of UAS in the United States and participated in the federal interagency process considering UAS-related policy issues. She is now Partner and Co-Chair of the UAS Practice at Hogan Lovells US LPP.

Both Gretchen and Lisa are also co-founders of the Women of Commercial Drones group, a nationwide effort to encourage women to become involved in this market and to mentor women to become leaders in technology.

The Commercial Drone Alliance is interested in expanding its membership to create a broader base of support for growing the industry as a whole. Potential partners and members can learn more atwww.commercialdronealliance.org.