Louisiana Record

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Louisiana needs drone delivery now, policy advocate says

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By Zeta Cross | Mar 30, 2020


Emergency rules to allow for the use of drone delivery could be a game changer for Louisiana during the coronavirus crisis.

Daniel Ersparmer, CEO of the Pelican Institute, says Gov. John Bel Edwards has the ability to facilitate new rules that would allow delivery of medical supplies by drone in Louisiana.

Ersparmer says drone delivery is a proven technology that is already being used for the quick and safe transport of goods in other countries. Medical supplies could be delivered in rural Louisiana communities and in other areas where infrastructure is substandard. 

A huge benefit of drone delivery is the fact that delivered goods would require few human handlers. In a time of coronavirus contamination, this is a critical benefit of drone delivery, he says. Another big benefit: Delivery time would speed up with drone delivery, Ersparner says.

Current Louisiana policy issues are standing in the way, however, as the state ranked 37th among those prepared to establish drone delivery, he says. 

Ersparmer says two issues are standing in the way:

  • No property rights established for drones in Louisiana: Currently, drone operators don’t know where they can operate their drones legally when crossing government or private property.
  • Nuisance or trespass laws: Louisiana lacks clarity when it comes to whether drones are subject to nuisance and trespass laws when in flight.
Ersparmer applauds Gov. John Bel Edwards for his recent efforts to break down barriers to industries like telemedicine and medical testing. The governor can get drones up and flying if he works with the appropriate agencies to develop emergency regulations for drone use, Ersparmer says. 

He recommends Louisiana start with the delivery of medical supplies, then it could move to address consumer delivery. 

Having a more robust drone delivery is an important goal for the long term, Ersparmer believes. 

In the face of the coronavirus crisis, direct actions to open access to drone delivery have an important role to play in combatting this crisis, he says. 

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Pelican Institute for Public Policy