Today the Association of Unmanned Vehicles International (AUVSI) published a drone Code of Conduct. Here are some excerpts. What do you think?

The emergence of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as a resource for a wide variety of public and
private applications quite possibly represents one of the most significant advancements to aviation, the
scientific community, and public service since the beginning of flight. Rapid advancements in the
technology have presented unique challenges and opportunities to the growing UAS industry and to
those who support it. The nature of UAS and the environments which they operate, when not managed
properly, can and will create issues that need to be addressed. The future of UAS will be linked to the
responsible and safe use of these systems. Our industry has an obligation to conduct our operations in a
safe manner that minimizes risk and instills confidence in our systems.


  • We will not operate UAS in a manner that presents undue risk to persons or property on the surface or in the air.
  • We will ensure UAS will be piloted by individuals who are properly trained and competent to operate the vehicle or its systems.
  • We will ensure UAS flights will be conducted only after a thorough assessment of risks associated with the activity. This risks assessment will include, but is not limited to:
  • Weather conditions relative to the performance capability of the system
  • Identification of normally anticipated failure modes (lost link, power plant failures, loss of control, etc) and consequences of the failures
  • Crew fitness for flight operations
  • Overlying airspace, compliance with aviation regulations as appropriate to the operation, and off‐nominal procedures
  • Communication, command, control, and payload frequency spectrum requirements
  • Reliability, performance, and airworthiness to established standards


  • We will comply with all federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, covenants, and restrictions as they relate to UAS operations.
  • We will operate our systems as responsible members of the aviation community.
  • We will be responsive to the needs of the public.
  • We will cooperate fully with federal, state, and local authorities in response to emergency deployments, mishap investigations, and media relations.
  • We will establish contingency plans for all anticipated off‐nominal events and share them openly with all appropriate authorities.


  • We will respect the rights of other users of the airspace.
  • We will respect the privacy of individuals.
  • We will respect the concerns of the public as they relate to unmanned aircraft operations.
  • We will support improving public awareness and education on the operation of UAS.

Views: 668

Comment by ArileyS on July 3, 2012 at 1:07pm

"We will comply with all federal, state, and local laws, ordinances, covenants, and restrictions as they relate to UAS operations."

That'll show 'em!

Comment by Paul Marsh on July 3, 2012 at 6:19pm

Hi Chris,

I'm guessing that one reason why you haven't had a lot of takers on this is that there really isn't too much to find fault with in the guidelines.  I would expect nothing less from any organization that represents a group professionals or hobbyists.  One thought as I read through these items, which Matthew Schroyer echoed in his follow-up post on a code of ethics, is that much of this is general in nature.  Other than the part about complying with all laws, a lot is left up to what any given operator perceives as "undo risk," or being "properly trained" and so on.

Here in the U.S., I think that whatever is coming from the FAA will turn a lot of this gray into black and white.  I suspect that's one reason why it's taking so long.  Along these lines, the only other thing that struck me was the timing of this release, at least from the point of view of someone in the U.S.  It seems that the coming FAA rules will render much of this moot, i.e. law will trump guidelines.

Thoughts as requested.


Comment by F1P on July 3, 2012 at 9:14pm

AUVSI is cia and us goverment "patriot"  -based assotiation and NO have any changes from Vietman War times. =)

Comment by James Pollock on August 9, 2012 at 11:45am

Actually, I've been on the busy side and didn't intitially read Chris Anderson's inquiry regarding others thoughts on this issue.  In way of response, I actually have some very genuine concerns and questions regarding AUVSI's stance. 

For the record, I am a member of AUVSI.  For a whole slew of reasons, I'm quite interested to see where things will pan out.  I'm also not exactly sure of the exact purpose of AUVSI's release of the drafted 'code of conduct.'


I tend to hear a grain of truth in this article:

Below is my emailed response to AUVSI, followed by a carbon copy to the Virginia Private Investigator Association (PISA).


Since some members of PISA are keeping abreast of developments related to UAV regulation (and privacy issues relating to same), I thought there may be some interest in my recen t correspondence with AUVSI.
A quick perusal of the article available at the link below, and the AUVSI "Code of Conduct" (contained within) will bring you up to speed, and is recommended reading prior to reading my attached response.

I apologize for a bit of sloppy writing in my email to AUVSI, but I think my general sentiments expressed  stands on their own.
In summary, I'm concerned about the AUVSI trying to reassure the general public regarding the 'drone' industry, while marketing products designed for surveillance purposes.
I'm interested to hear others thoughts on the matter.
James Pollock
Bulldog Investigations

DCJS #11-6038

-----Original Message----- From: ]

Sent: Thursday, August 9, 

To: Cc:,

I respectfully disagree with at least two of the items in the recently (announced? proposed?) code of conduct [August 2012 issue of Unmanned Systems, page 44].

Under the 'Respect' section of the AUVSI code of conduct, two items strike me as questionable statements:

We will respect the privacy of individuals
We will respect the concerns of the public as they relate to unmanned aircraft operations.

I'm concerned about these statements. I certainly don't mean to imply that I don't respect the privacy of indviduals, or the concerns of the public. That said, I believe we should have a bit of honest discussion and/or debate on this matter. Quite a few AUVSI members are interested in these technologies from a reconissance standpoint.  My company wishes to explore the use of 'drone' technologies to enhance the effectiveness of private investigation efforts.  Other organizations anticipate manufacturing UAS products for sale to law enforcement agencies.

What message do we seek to convey through those two privacy related statements, and will they then be questioned as to their merit?

I'm not sure that putting the items of  'respect for privacy' and the 'concerns of the public' into AUVSI's code of conduct is is a wise move.

 How can a UAS manufacturer support those statements on the one hand and sell products that are used for surveillance purposes with the other?  The code of conduct as written could perhaps ultimately result in unanticipated additional scrutiny of  AUVSI.  They just don't ring true to me, and I cannot therefore endorse such statements.  I suspect many other firms within our organization walk upon 'thin ice' if they choose to do so.

 I'm certainly not implying that voicing the inferred contrary message would be a prudent course of action.  That, in fact, we do not  respect the privacy of individuals or public concerns regarding same.    My suggestion is that we remain offically neutral within the developing controversial quagmire, unless we desire a tremendous amount of time expended towards clarification of our position.


What are others thoughts regarding this matter?

 James Pollock


 ulldog Investigations & Security, LLC.

Narrows VA




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