WEBXTRA: East Texas company leader discusses future of drones

Tyler drone system company meets with Congress about the future of unmanned, autonomous technology
Published: Sep. 27, 2019 at 12:35 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - Chapters from a nonprofit organization called the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International met in Washington D.C. for an annual event to discuss how "unmanned technology is making a positive impact on local communities and economies across the country.

The organization represents unmanned and autonomous vehicle systems for air, ground or in the water.

Joining the group from the AUVSI Lone Star Chapter was Phil Burks, co-founder of FIRST iZTM, a commercial drone system that autonomously dispatches unmanned aerial vehicles, which provide situational awareness for first responders. This is the second year Burks has participated in the event, which included attending several Congressional meetings for both the Senate and House, as well as AUVSI presentations.

“It is always a packed and energizing day,” stated Burks, “As UAV companies, we get to tell congressional leaders how we see this industry shaping up and let them understand how we need their legislative help to make it a safe, solid, and life saving reality. As we told our story, the reaction was, ‘well, that will save lives for sure!’ Yes, it will.”

Four topics were selected as points of focus for the day, one of which addressed the recent bipartisan American Security Drone Act, proposed by a number of U.S. senators. The bill seeks to ban the U.S. government from purchasing drones manufactured in countries like China and Iran, which are identified as national security threats.

Richard Blumenthal, one of the senators proposing the bill explained, “Like it or not, drones are our future. Without congressional action, adversaries like China and Iran will use drone technology as tiny Trojan Horses to spy on our government, our critical infrastructure – even our hospitals and homes. This bill will ensure that we don’t send China and others a gold-plated, flying invitation to steal our intellectual property, undermine our domestic technology and spy on our communities.”

AUVSI’s position is in favor of mitigating risks to U.S. security, but with a request to consider solutions to the subsequent limitations of economic growth and availability to unmanned aerial system (UAS) technology.

KLTV’s Blake Holland spoke with Burks to learn more.

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