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Neural probes that combine optics, electronics, and drugs could help unlock the secrets of the brain.
Various powerful new tools for exploring and manipulating the brain have been developed over the last few years. Some use electronics, while others use light or chemicals.
Chairman Thune, Ranking Member Nelson and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to speak today about the reauthorization of the FAA.
It seems like not long ago, we were united with a shared sense of urgency to provide the necessary framework and structure to support our nations aviation system, as part of the FAA reauthorization of 2012. And now we are here again to continue that work. Government and industry have a shared responsibility to create the aviation system that will carry this nation well into the 21st century.
The FAA has made major progress in transforming our airspace system through NextGen, and that progress continues as we speak.
I am very proud to announce that we achieved a major milestone last month by completing one of the largest automation changeovers in the history of the FAA. We have completed our new high altitude air traffic control system known as ERAM. This system will accommodate the technologies of NextGen, giving the United States a more powerful air traffic system.
ERAM, or En Route Automation Modernization is not just a faster computer system, its a network that replaces our legacy system, which had its roots in the 1960s. ERAM processes data from nearly three times the number of sensors as the legacy system. It can track and display more high altitude flights and enable controllers to handle additional traffic more efficiently.
This upgrade is complete now because we introduced a great deal of discipline and structure to the way we do business at the FAA. In 2012, we created a Program Management Organization to better manage the deployment of this and other technology. We also worked closely with our employees those who will use the system to gain insight and to make alterations ahead of time for a smooth transition. The fact that we turned ERAM around, and that it is now operating nationwide, is a testament to what the FAA can accomplish as an agency when it sets milestones and pulls together as a team to make fundamental changes.
ERAM links seamlessly with another complementary system that makes up the foundation of NextGen. This system is called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast, or ADS-B. Last year we finished the coast-to-coast installation of the ADS-B network that will enable satellite-based air traffic control. ADS-B provides a more precise and efficient alternative to radar and will create a sea change in how we manage our nations air traffic.
With this highly flexible NextGen foundation in place, the FAA has fulfilled an important commitment. We are working with the industry and the general aviation community to help them meet their requirement to equip by 2020.
On a parallel track, through our collaboration with industry, we have identified key priorities in implementing NextGen air traffic procedures. We now have more satellite-based procedures in our skies than radar-based procedures. We created new NextGen routes above our busiest metropolitan areas, saving millions of dollars in fuel burn, shortening flight paths, decreasing carbon emissions and cutting down on delays.
We have accomplished all of this despite a very challenging fiscal backdrop. Prior to 2012, the FAA faced 23 short-term extensions for reauthorization, as well as a lapse in spending authority and a partial furlough. Two years ago, like other federal agencies, we slashed our budget under the sequester and furloughed employees. Later that year, we continued to operate our nations air traffic control system and regulate industry safety despite a complete shutdown of the federal government.
What the FAA needs in reauthorization is stability and predictable funding. We also need the flexibility to identify priorities and match our services and infrastructure with the needs of our users.
It bears emphasizing that the FAA is a 24-seven operation, singularly focused on safety. I think everyone has acknowledged that the funding piece has been challenging in the last five years. There is talk about restructuring the FAA as part of this reauthorization. I am all for having that discussion, but the discussion needs to be based on facts. We need to be sure that any governance changes would work to solve the challenges faced by the FAA.
Our aviation system is a valuable asset for the American public that contributes 12 million jobs and $1.5 trillion to our economy. We should use the upcoming reauthorization to provide the FAA with the tools necessary to meet the demands of the future. A lot is at stake, and we need to get this right.
Thank you for the opportunity to appear before the Committee today. I am happy to take any questions you may have.
Robots will use the latest computer-vision and machine-learning algorithms to try to perform the work done by humans in vast fulfillment centers.
Packets of Oreos, boxes of crayons, and squeaky dog toys will test the limits of robot vision and manipulation in a competition this May. Amazon is organizing the event to spur the development of more nimble-fingered product-packing machines.
Good morning and thank you, Nancy, for the kind introduction.
We are here this week to talk about the newest entrant into our airspace, the remotely piloted aircraft, as it is called in Montreal. Or unmanned aircraft systems, or UAS, as we call it in the U.S. regulatory system. Or drones, as they are widely known in the general public.
But whatever we choose to call them, these aircraft are rapidly changing the face of aviation. They are being already deployed around the world in a variety of commercial activities, from agriculture, pipeline inspection, oil exploration, wildlife monitoring, movie making, photography, and construction. The list seems endless.
This is not a theoretical exercise: these aircraft exist now. And as with any new technology, it is impossible to predict what commercial uses may lie ahead. In fact, that is not our role. Our role is to build a regulatory structure that allows their introduction into the airspace in a fashion that is both safe and efficient. We need to ensure that we maintain the same levels of safety that we have achieved in the current system, while allowing this rapidly developing technology to flourish and integrate into the airspace.
This is the balance we must strike, and we are all approaching the task somewhat differently from what we call these aircraft, to how we categorize them. But at the end of the day, we have to come up with a harmonized system, which is where ICAO plays such an important role.
This morning I would like to talk a bit about how the FAA is approaching the integration of UAS into our airspace, and then talk more about the importance of harmonization.
The U.S. Approach
In looking at the U.S. regulatory approach, we began with a comprehensive road map, which we published two years ago and which constitutes our plan to safely integrate unmanned aircraft. This roadmap addresses the policies, the regulations, the technologies, and the procedures that we will need to integrate unmanned aircraft on a routine basis.
In addition, the Department of Transportation released a Comprehensive Plan that details the multi-agency approach to the safe and timely integration of unmanned aircraft. That plan establishes goals to integrate both small and larger aircraft.
Effectively, the U.S. approach divides UAS into two categories: small UAS, meaning under 55 pounds, or 25 kilograms, which operate at low altitudes, and large UAS, which would operate in busier controlled airspace. We are also considering the possibility of a third category devices that are less than two kilos.
In February we issued a proposed rule for regulations that would govern small UAS, and that rule is now available for public comment. The proposed rule is designed to create a flexible framework that balances our goal of accommodating innovation in the industry, while ensuring that we protect other aircraft by maintaining separation, and that we protect people and property on the ground.
Id like to share some of the highlights of our proposed rule, which is similar to the framework that EASA has proposed for what it calls the low risk or Open category of unmanned aircraft.
The FAAs proposed rule accommodates aircraft operating up to 500 feet above ground level, and restricts operations near airports and other restricted airspace unless air traffic control gives permission. This provides a buffer between manned and unmanned aircraft.
This proposal would allow operations during daylight hours, at speeds of up to 100 mph, and would require the operator to be able to see the unmanned aircraft at all times.
We propose that operators obtain a newly created operators certificate by passing a knowledge test focusing on the rules of the air, but they do not need to obtain a traditional pilots license. The operator would need to renew that certificate every two years by passing a written proficiency test.
These small unmanned aircraft pose the least amount of risk to our airspace and therefore, consistent with our risk-based approach, the proposed rule would allow these aircraft to operate without the need for an airworthiness certificate. A traditional certificate can take three to five years to obtain. An unmanned aircraft could very well be outdated by the time it obtained a certificate following the traditional approach. Therefore, we have proposed that no airworthiness certificate is needed. Rather, these aircraft must operate within the specified parameters to maintain safety.
In addition to mitigating risk, the rule opens the door to many potential benefits. The small unmanned aircraft may be used to conduct higher risk activities, such as inspecting utility towers, antennas, bridges, power lines and pipelines in hilly or mountainous terrain. Small unmanned aircraft could also support wildlife conservation, or be used to monitor crops. They can help with search and rescue, shoot scenes for films and television or take aerial photographs for real estate purposes. In many cases unmanned aircraft can do these tasks with less risk than manned aircraft that might have to fly in dangerous terrain or in bad weather. And, in some cases, an unmanned aircraft could conduct inspections more safely than a worker who might need to climb a tower, or repel down the side of a building.
The proposed rule is also relevant for what is not covered. The rule does not affect those who want to fly model aircraft as a hobby or for recreation. They already can do that they simply need to fly according to our model aircraft guidelines.
As part of this rule, we are also asking the question of whether there should be an additional category and special rules for micro unmanned aircraft those that weigh less than 4.4 pounds, or 2 kilograms. We will consider public comment on this issue.
Finally, the rule does not address privacy. Rather, President Obama last month issued a memorandum on privacy that will guide how the U.S. Federal Government uses unmanned aircraft in our domestic airspace. The presidential memorandum also outlines how the Administration will engage with industry to develop best practices to protect the privacy of the public.
Rulemaking of course takes time, but meanwhile we have moved forward with approving the first commercial use of unmanned aircraft in the Arctic. In both cases, the FAA issued a restricted type certificate for these unmanned aircraft, which means we deemed them airworthy for restricted operations.
More recently, we have provided exemptions for applications to operate small unmanned aircraft in the continental United States.
With respect to large unmanned aircraft, different challenges remain as we look at the technology necessary to integrate those aircraft into our busier controlled airspace. There are operational and regulatory challenges that still must be met:
We have a large body of work ongoing with other government agencies and researchers to find solutions to these challenges. The FAA, NASA and industry are collaborating on research and have successfully demonstrated a proof of concept for an airborne detect and avoid system. This was a major milestone in the development of a collision avoidance system for unmanned aircraft.
We are also working with universities, states and airports across the country for research on unmanned aircraft. Last year, we opened six research test sites, in conjunction with approximately 150 members representing research institutes, private industry, and partners in the U.S., Canada, Norway and Iceland.
Like other jurisdictions, we are working to integrate these aircraft into our airspace in a way that maintains our level of safety and allows innovation to continue with this important new technology. And as we do that, it is important that we all work together to ensure that our efforts are harmonized.
The United States will continue to support ICAO and work together to create the safe integration of unmanned aircraft. As we all learn more about unmanned flight, we will be well served to share that knowledge and harmonize standards, as we have done for so long with manned aircraft.
The FAA is working with 25 other countries that are part of the Joint Authorities for Rulemaking on Unmanned Systems, which was founded in 2007. The United States co-chairs this organization, which is working toward a single set of technical, safety and operational requirements for the certification and safe integration of unmanned aircraft.
Also, the FAA is committed to ensuring that experts from several fields will support the new ICAO Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems Panel. This panel, which represents more than 30 member states and international organizations, will look at issues like airworthiness, operator certification, licensing of remote pilots and other operational issues. They will work through many of the same topics that were discussing at this symposium this week, and focus on creating standards and recommended practices for adoption by the ICAO Council in 2018.
This is the start of a years-long process for creating a worldwide framework for integration of unmanned aircraft. We support ICAO as the forum and process where we can achieve international harmonization.
Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate all who were involved with achieving a significant milestone in harmonization with the publication this month of ICAOs Manual on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems. A significant amount of work from many experts in many fields contributed to this manual. It includes input from operators, manufacturers, inspectors, pilots, accident investigators, air traffic representatives and many others.
The manual provides guidance on technical and operational issues applicable to the integration of UAS in non-segregated airspace and airports. This is an important achievement.
In closing, all of us are trying to harness the potential of this new technology. The applications are limitless, and our job is to ensure that innovation can happen, while at the same time, ensuring that we maintain a safe system. I look forward to hearing the ideas of my colleagues here today. I also look forward to working with all of you to create the kind of regulatory framework that will allow unmanned aircraft to reach their full potential and operate seamlessly around the world.
Thank you very much.
Persuasive technologies surround us, and they’re growing smarter. How do these technologies work? And why?
GSN Games, which designs mobile games like poker and bingo, collects billions of signals every day from the phones and tablets its players are using—revealing everything from the time of day they play to the types of game they prefer to how they deal with failure. If two people were to download a game onto the same type of phone simultaneously, in as little as five minutes their games would begin to diverge—each one automatically tailored to its user’s style of play.