A bipartisan bill, H.R. 3595, has been reintroduced by Rep. Greg Stanton (D-AZ) and Rep. Garret Graves (R-LA), reviving last year's H.R. 5315 that passed in the House but did not advance in the Senate. The bill aims to support the drone industry and recognizes the significant efficiencies offered by drone technology in infrastructure inspection. It includes provisions for funding state, local, and tribal governments to acquire or contract approved drone technology for critical infrastructure projects such as inspection, maintenance, rehabilitation, or construction.
According to a press release by Rep. Stanton, the use of drones for infrastructure inspection makes sense as it enables safer, faster, and more sustainable operations. The grants provided by the Act will assist state, local, and tribal governments in investing in this cutting-edge technology to better maintain aging infrastructure.
The DIIG Act also includes funding for higher education institutions, including community colleges, to develop drone workforce training programs. This aligns with the UAS Collegiate Training Initiative outlined in the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018.
Michael Robbins, Chief Advocacy Officer for the Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), expressed support for the DIIG Act, stating that it would help the U.S. drone industry remain competitive. He emphasized the growing reliance on drones for critical operations like infrastructure inspections and the need to invest in the industry and workforce to maintain aviation leadership.
Robbins highlighted the importance of passing this legislation to level the playing field for the U.S. drone industry, attract capital and investment, and reap the infrastructure and workforce benefits that the DIIG Act would bring to communities nationwide. It is crucial for Congress to support this commonsense legislation and ensure the U.S. remains at the forefront of the drone industry.