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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: May 21, 2021 03:32 PM
From: Representative Meghan Schroeder
To: All House members
Subject: Creation of the UAS Innovation Fund
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) technology has proven to be a valuable asset in almost all industries. Firefighters use UAS equipped with thermal cameras to fight fires more safely. Bridge inspectors and utility companies use UAS to inspect bridges and powerlines more safely and at lower cost. Professions ranging from surveyors to accident investigators use UAS to rapidly collect aerial photography and build 3-dimensional models. Farmers use UAS to determine the health of their fields and deploy fertilizers with precision. Educators use UAS to introduce students to STEM curriculums.

The economic impact of the UAS industry is estimated to be 82 billion dollars by 2025. Nearby states made early investments in promoting UAS technology. Businesses and governments in those states have benefited from this investment through early adoption. UAS are being used to deliver products and medical samples in North Carolina and Virginia. UAS are being used to inspect aircraft in Memphis. Corridors for experimental research and development exist in upstate New York. Pennsylvania must develop a workforce which can operate and integrate UAS into public and private sectors. Encouraging job creation and efficiencies. According to a recent study Pennsylvania ranks 37th in the nation in UAS industry preparedness.

Shortly, I will be introducing legislation creating the UAS Innovation Fund. This legislation will create an annual grant program that will incentivize both public and private entities to develop, embrace, and integrate this technology, thus resulting in the further growth of the UAS industry while creating new jobs and opportunities within the commonwealth.

Grants may fund up to three quarters of the cost of acquiring UAS for Pennsylvania businesses and first responders. Pennsylvania’s educational institutions will be eligible to use these grants to develop training programs so that our state’s businesses are not reliant on out-of-state pilots. Grants may also be used to fund a portion of the operating expenses related to experimental projects conducted inside Pennsylvania.

This fund is intended to bring the benefits of UAS technology to all of Pennsylvania. A portion of the funds may only be used in rural or small city settings. Grant amounts are capped, to ensure funds are available to many applicants statewide. Grants may be used as matching funds for federal programs, so that small entities such as rural police, public works, or fire departments as well as high schools and vocational education providers can acquire UAS and operator training.

Please join me in cosponsoring this legislation which will develop a UAS workforce and enable broad adoption of UAS technology by Pennsylvania’s businesses and governments.

Introduced as HB1675