BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SAFETY
                             Senator Loni Hancock, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:    AB 1662       Hearing Date:    June 21, 2016    
          
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          |Author:    |Chau                                                 |
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          |Version:   |March 3, 2016                                        |
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          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
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          |Consultant:|MK                                                   |
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              Subject:  Unmanned Aircraft Systems:  Accident Reporting



          HISTORY

          Source:   Author

          Prior Legislation:SB 167 (Gaines) not heard 2015
                         SB 170 (Gaines) Vetoed 2015
                         SB 262 (Galgiani) Failed Senate Judiciary 2015
                         SB 263 (Gaines) not heard 2015
                         SB 271 (Gaines) Vetoed 2015
                         AB 56 (Quirk) inactive Senate Floor
                         SB 15 (Padilla) failed Assembly Public Safety  
          2014 
                         AB 1327 (Gorell) Vetoed 2014


          Support:  Association of California Water Agencies; California  
                    Fire Chiefs Association; California Police Chiefs  
                    Association; DJI; Fire Districts Association of  
                    California; San Diego International Airport

          Opposition:Electronic Frontier Foundation

          Assembly Floor Vote:                 67 - 2










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          PURPOSE

          The purpose of this bill is to require the operator of any  
          unmanned aircraft system (UAS) involved in an accident resulting  
          in injury to an individual or damage to property to perform  
          certain duties.
          
          Existing federal regulations require all drone owners to  
          register their drones with the Federal Aviation Administration  
          (FAA).  Commercial drone operators, but not recreational drone  
          operators, must also obtain FAA authorization, which is granted  
          on a case-by-case basis.  

          Existing law establishes a Division of Aeronautics within the  
          California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).  (Public  
          Utilities Code  21001 et seq)

          Existing federal law, the Aviation Administration Modernization  
          and Reform Act of 2012, requires the Secretary of Transportation  
          to develop a comprehensive plan to safely accelerate the  
          integration of civil unmanned aircraft systems into the national  
          airspace system. The plan is required to provide for safe  
          integration of civil UAS into national airspace as soon as  
          practicable, not later than September 30, 2015. (112 P.L. 95,  
          332.) 

          Existing law requires the driver of any vehicle involved in an  
          accident resulting only in property damage to stop the vehicle  
          immediately at the nearest location that will not impede traffic  
          or jeopardize safety and do the following: locate and notify the  
          owner of the property; provide his or her name and address; and  
          present identification, if requested. If the property owner  
          cannot be found, then the driver must leave a note on the  
          damaged property with his or her name and address along with a  
          statement of the circumstances of the accident, and notify the  
          police. A violation of these requirements is a misdemeanor,  
          punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both.   
          (Vehicle Code  20002)

          Existing law requires a person who parks and leaves a vehicle  
          which then becomes a runaway vehicle involved in an accident  
          causing property damage to follow the same provisions that apply  
          to other vehicle accidents causing property damage. (Vehicle  
          Code 20002(b))









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          This bill requires the operator of the UAS involved in an  
          accident resulting in injury to an individual or damage to  
          property shall immediately land the aircraft at the nearest  
          location that will not jeopardize the safety of others. 

          This bill requires the operator to present his or her valid  
          identification and his or her name and current residence address  
          to the injured individual. 

          This bill requires the operator to locate and notify the owner  
          or person in charge of the damaged property of the name and  
          address of the operator and, upon being requested to do so,  
          present his or her valid identification and his or her name and  
          current residence address to the other property owner or person  
          in charge of the damaged property.

          This bill requires the operator to leave a written notice in a  
          conspicuous place on the damaged property giving the name and  
          address of the operator and a statement of the circumstances of  
          the accident and notify the police department or the sheriff's  
          department of the jurisdiction where the damage occurred.

          This bill makes a violation of these requirements a misdemeanor,  
          punishable by up to 6 months in jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. 

          This bill exempts from these requirements law enforcement and a  
          UAS operated under specific authorization from the Federal  
          Aviation Administration (FAA), in accordance with the terms and  
          conditions of that authorization. 

          This bill defines "unmanned aircraft" and "unmanned aircraft  
          system" consistent with federal law.

                    RECEIVERSHIP/OVERCROWDING CRISIS AGGRAVATION

          For the past several years this Committee has scrutinized  
          legislation referred to its jurisdiction for any potential  
          impact on prison overcrowding.  Mindful of the United States  
          Supreme Court ruling and federal court orders relating to the  
          state's ability to provide a constitutional level of health care  
          to its inmate population and the related issue of prison  
          overcrowding, this Committee has applied its "ROCA" policy as a  
          content-neutral, provisional measure necessary to ensure that  









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          the Legislature does not erode progress in reducing prison  
          overcrowding.   

          On February 10, 2014, the federal court ordered California to  
          reduce its in-state adult institution population to 137.5% of  
          design capacity by February 28, 2016, as follows:   

        143% of design bed capacity by June 30, 2014;
        141.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2015; and,
        137.5% of design bed capacity by February 28, 2016. 

          In December of 2015 the administration reported that as "of  
          December 9, 2015, 112,510 inmates were housed in the State's 34  
          adult institutions, which amounts to 136.0% of design bed  
          capacity, and 5,264 inmates were housed in out-of-state  
          facilities.  The current population is 1,212 inmates below the  
          final court-ordered population benchmark of 137.5% of design bed  
          capacity, and has been under that benchmark since February  
          2015."  (Defendants' December 2015 Status Report in Response to  
          February 10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge  
          Court, Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).)  One  
          year ago, 115,826 inmates were housed in the State's 34 adult  
          institutions, which amounted to 140.0% of design bed capacity,  
          and 8,864 inmates were housed in out-of-state facilities.   
          (Defendants' December 2014 Status Report in Response to February  
          10, 2014 Order, 2:90-cv-00520 KJM DAD PC, 3-Judge Court, Coleman  
          v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (fn. omitted).)  
           
          While significant gains have been made in reducing the prison  
          population, the state must stabilize these advances and  
          demonstrate to the federal court that California has in place  
          the "durable solution" to prison overcrowding "consistently  
          demanded" by the court.  (Opinion Re: Order Granting in Part and  
          Denying in Part Defendants' Request For Extension of December  
          31, 2013 Deadline, NO. 2:90-cv-0520 LKK DAD (PC), 3-Judge Court,  
          Coleman v. Brown, Plata v. Brown (2-10-14).  The Committee's  
          consideration of bills that may impact the prison population  
          therefore will be informed by the following questions:

              Whether a proposal erodes a measure which has contributed  
               to reducing the prison population;
              Whether a proposal addresses a major area of public safety  
               or criminal activity for which there is no other  
               reasonable, appropriate remedy;









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              Whether a proposal addresses a crime which is directly  
               dangerous to the physical safety of others for which there  
               is no other reasonably appropriate sanction; 
              Whether a proposal corrects a constitutional problem or  
               legislative drafting error; and
              Whether a proposal proposes penalties which are  
               proportionate, and cannot be achieved through any other  
               reasonably appropriate remedy.


          COMMENTS

          1. Need for This Bill
          
          According to the author:

               Drones are widely available to the public.  Retail  
               recreational drones can be outfitted with cameras and  
               currently range from roughly $300 to $1,500.  The  
               Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) estimates that  
               nearly one million drones (also known as unmanned  
               aircraft systems (UAS)), were sold during the holiday  
               season. In December 2015, in anticipation of an influx  
               of drones in the skies, the FAA issued new rules  
               requiring hobbyists to register their drones.  

               Useful commercial applications for drones are growing  
               exponentially.  Drones give the news media economical  
               and environmentally-friendly access to aerial views of  
               traffic, storms, and other events when compared to the  
               current use of helicopters and other manned aircraft.   
               Drones are being used in the agricultural industry to  
               observe and measure crops while conserving resources  
               and avoiding the use of heavy equipment.  They also  
               show great promise for use in commercial delivery and  
               communications.  

               Despite the myriad practical applications for UAS,  
               there is an undisputed need for clear rules to protect  
               public safety as more drones enter the skies. UAS  
               equipped with cameras, microphones, Internet  
               connections, and remote controls have enormous  
               potential to invade personal space and cause personal  
               injury and property damage if systems fail or operators  









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               use them irresponsibly over crowded public areas, such  
               as city streets, parks and public events.

               With the increasing usage of drones we are seeing more  
               drone accidents. For, example, a drone crashed into a  
               power line near Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood  
               which knocked out power to 600-700 homes. In September  
               2015, an 11-month-old baby was injured in Pasadena,  
               California after she was struck on the head by shrapnel  
               from a hobbyist's drone that crashed near her stroller.  
                According to news reports, the 24-year-old drone  
               hobbyist, who was using his drone to view a nearby  
               public screening of The Princess Bride, did the right  
               thing by rushing over to the accident scene to help.  
               But such a response was not required by law, and the  
               incident was only one of many drone crashes and near  
               misses reported in recent months. The Democrat &  
               Chronicle, part of the USA Today Network, maintains a  
               public database of drone incidents throughout the  
               United States:   
                http://rochester.nydatabases.com/map/domestic-drone-acci 
               dents  .

               Under current law, motor vehicle drivers are required  
               to stop and provide identification and their contact  
               information if they are involved in a vehicle accident  
               that causes injury or property damage.  An involved  
               driver who flees the scene of an accident may also be  
               charged with a misdemeanor if the accident involved  
               property damage or a felony if the accident involved  
               personal injury. 

               AB 1662 applies the "hit and run" law to drones since  
               they are just as capable as cars are of causing  
               personal injury and property damage when they fall out  
               of the sky or hover too close to people.

          2.  Federal Law


          Existing federal law vests FAA with the authority to regulate  
          airspace in all states. In 2012, FAA was required by Congress to  
          plan for the safe integration of UAS operation into the national  
          airspace system by September 30, 2015, and to develop and  









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          implement certification requirements 

          for the operation of UASs in the national airspace system. A UAS  
          includes both an unmanned aircraft, commonly referred to as a  
          drone, and all of the associated support equipment, control  
          stations, data links, telemetry, and communications and  
          navigation equipment necessary to operate the unmanned aircraft.  
          A UAS can be flown either by a pilot via a ground control system  
          or autonomously through use of an on-board computer. 

          3.  Notification if UAS Causes Injury or Damage
          
          This bill would require the operator of a UAS involved in an  
          accident to land the vehicle and provide specified information  
          to other parties involved in the accident, consistent with the  
          current requirements placed on a driver involved in a motor  
          vehicle accident. The requirements and penalties associated with  
          this bill mirror existing statutes relating to hit-and-run  
          accidents, such as the requirement to leave a note with  
          identifying information if the accident results only in property  
          damage.

          Unmanned aircraft systems are widely available to the public,  
          and retail systems outfitted with cameras now range from roughly  
          $300 to $1,500. The FAA estimates that nearly one million UASs  
          were sold during the December 2015 holiday season. 


          In anticipation of the influx of UAS in the skies, the FAA  
          issued new rules in 2015 requiring any UAS weighing between one  
          half pound and 55 pounds, including payloads such as on-board  
          cameras, to be registered with the FAA by February 19, 2016. UAS  
          owners must be at least 13 years old to register and must  
          provide their name, home address, and email address. Upon  
          registration under this requirement, UAS owners receive a  
          Certificate of Aircraft Registration/Proof of Ownership along  
          with a unique identification number, which must be marked or  
          affixed to the unmanned aircraft. This unique identifier can  
          then be used to look up the UAS owner in the event of an  
          accident. These registration rules apply only to "model  
          aircraft," i.e., recreational UASs not used for any commercial  
          purpose. The FAA is currently in the process of adopting rules  
          regulating the use of commercial UASs, which currently may only  
          be authorized by the FAA on a case-by-case. According to FAA  









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          Administrator Michael Huerta, the FAA now has more than 400,000  
          UAS registrants in the model aircraft category, which surpasses  
          the 320,000 piloted airplanes currently registered with the FAA.  



          While there is little existing law at the state level governing  
          the use of UAS, it is unclear what effect upcoming FAA  
          regulations will have on California's ability to regulate  
          drones. Once the FAA has finished promulgating regulations, a  
          future court may find that those regulations preempt certain  
          state laws. The FAA recently issued a document on state and  
          local regulation of UASs, and stated that laws traditionally  
          related to state and local police power - including land use,  
          zoning, privacy, trespass, and law enforcement operations -  
          generally are not subject to federal regulation. 


          This bill would appear to fall within the police power, because  
          it establishes safety and accident reporting standards to help  
          law enforcement resolve personal injury and property damage  
          accidents involving drones.  


          4.  Support


          DJI, a manufacturer of consumer and commercial unmanned  
          aircraft, supports this bill stating:


               While injuries and property damage involving drones  
               remain quite rare, AB 1662 ensures that the operator of  
               any drone involved in such an incident can be held  
               accountable. Accountability is an important ingredient  
               to safe and responsible operation, and one that DJI  
               fully supports. Moreover, we applaud the author's  
               approach of modeling existing law regarding similar  
               incidents involving ground-based vehicles, establishing  
               consistent and predictable policy for operators and  
               local law enforcement alike.
          
          5.  Opposition










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          The Electronic Frontier Foundation Opposes this bill stating:


               To begin with, we agree that in most cases having a  
               reporting requirement for accidents involving UAS  
               (commonly known as drones) is in the public interest.  
               However, there are scenarios where such a reporting  
               requirement does not make sense. For example, many  
               Californians participate in recreational drone combat  
               competitions (sometimes referred to as "Game of  
               Drones").<1> In these competitions, the goal is to  
               damage the other person's drone so that it can no  
               longer fly, while ensuring that your own drone stays in  
               the air. These competitions typically take place in  
               controlled indoor or outdoor environments, between  
               individuals who are well aware of the risk of damage to  
               their property (specifically their drones) and for whom  
               doing quick repairs to fix damage is actually part of  
               the fun of the competition.

               Therefore, we suggest that AB 1662 be amended so that  
               damage done to property during recreational drone  
               activities does not trigger its reporting requirement.  
               To be clear, such a carve-out should only apply if the  
               damage is done to property-not persons-and only when  
               the damaged property belongs to someone affiliated with  
               or taking part in the recreational activity (i.e. not  
               the property of mere spectators or passersby).

               The second flaw in the bill is section 24455(c)(1),  
               which excludes law enforcement officers and first  
               responders from the bill's reporting requirements (i.e.  
               section 24455(a)(1)-(3)). While we understand that in  
               some situations, it may be necessary for this class of  
               public servants to continue operating their drone  
               without interruption, even after causing damage to  
               people or property, we feel that a total exclusion is  
               unwarranted and unnecessary. 

               Therefore, we suggest that AB 1662 be amended so that  
               the same reporting requirements apply to law  
               enforcement and first responders as all others, except  



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          <1> See, e.g., http://aerialsports.tv/combat/








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               that they may delay complying with the reporting  
               requirements if doing so immediately would directly  
               lead to additional damage to property or injury to  
               people. In other words, a law enforcement officer could  
               continue flying his drone if he were using it to track  
               an armed suspect, and wait to find the injured party  
               until after the suspect was apprehended. Such a carve  
               out should not hinder law enforcement or first  
               responders in any way, while still preserving their  
               duty to find and exchange information with people  
               injured by their UAS operations.

               Finally, the exception for people operating UAS  
               pursuant to specific FAA authorizations should also be  
               removed, as having an authorization from the FAA does  
               not change the fact that the onus to report the  
               accident and provide identifying information should be  
               on the UAS operator, not the person who suffered injury  
               or whose property was damaged.

          Should this bill be amended to make it clear that people  
          participating in a drone combat competition does not have to  
          report damage to another drone?


          Should this bill be amended to delete the exemption for law  
          enforcement and fire departments in this bill and require them  
          to report damage or injury once the official use of the UAS has  
          been completed?


          


                                      -- END -





          












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