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Flying drone with camera Photogtaph by Buena Vista Images — Getty Images

New Drone Advocacy Group Launches With Cisco and CNN as Members

May 03, 2016

There’s a new drone advocacy group in Washington, D.C. and Silicon Valley.

The Commercial Drone Alliance took off on Tuesday with founding board members including the likes of networking giant Cisco, a drone-centric data crunching startup called Data Wing, and drone startup Measure. Measure made news in September when the Federal Aviation Administration gave the business permission to fly more than 300 drones for aerial data-gathering projects.

In March, Cisco's (csco) former CEO and current executive chairman John Chambers invested and took a board seat of a drone startup called Airware, which makes software to help navigate drones to their destinations as well as collect and process aerial data like photographs.

CNN is also a member of the newly-formed advocacy group. The news network received permission last year by the FAA to test drones for news gathering purposes.

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Although there are already several drone advocacy and lobbying groups, including the Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), the Small UAV Coalition, and the recently-established Drone Manufacturers Alliance, this new consortium differs by being “laser focused” on the commercial applications of drones, explained Lisa Ellman, co-executive director of the group.

Under current FAA rules, businesses have to apply for federal approval of using drones for business purposes, such as deploying drones to inspect power lines for utility companies or damaged homes for insurance companies.

Ellman explained that there was a need to have a group specifically dedicated to representing the needs of businesses interested in drones because of differing views held by the various parties who advocate the use of drones.

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For example, the creation of the national drone registration system for hobbyists in December divided some drone companies and organizations. Members of the commercial drone industry were encouraged by the system who felt it provided an easier way to register devices online, Ellman said.

Meanwhile, groups like the Small UAV Coalition, who represent hobbyists or companies that sell drone-related products or services to consumers, felt that the mandatory $5 registration fee could deter people from buying drones.

“Some groups had difficulty trying to represent too many different voices,” Ellman said.

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