Advanced Automation & Unmanned Systems


“I think their work is sterling. They are smart, alert, aware and treat their clients’ problems like their own and take their needs very seriously. When I have had a problem, I’ve always been confident in their advice and counsel.”

— Client feedback, Chambers USA

Advanced automation is permeating several aspects of transportation and energy sectors through the increased use of this technology aboard vessels, vehicles, and small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“sUAS” or “drones”). These advances in automation continue to rapidly evolve in multiple industries with numerous potential commercial applications. Clients who use advanced automation in their business enterprises, or allow third parties to use them for their business or on their property, need to be aware of the relevant laws, regulations, and risks.  

Our attorneys have the knowledge to guide operators and manufacturers through the evolving landscape of legal and regulatory issues related to advanced automation. Due to the inherent complexities and potential uses, these advance automation systems overlap a number of disciplines and we are well positioned to anticipate and address these complex issues with a dedicated cross-section team of counselors experienced in both government and private sectors. Whether your needs include insurance, product liability, risk management, guidance on sUAS waivers, data protection, or issues at the federal, state, or local levels, we can help you implement best practices and navigate this complicated landscape.

Attorneys from our Maritime practice group have been at the forefront of the rapid legal and operational developments in unmanned underwater vehicles (“UUV”) and unmanned surface vessels (“USV”).  Also, we have served on the guiding federal advisory committee leading the discussion on best practices for unmanned vessels in navigation and compliance with existing regulations. 

In terms of Aviation, since the Final Rule on small UAS went into effect in 2016, commercial drone usage has dramatically increased across the United States. Our attorneys have had success in advising on industry FAA waivers and exemption requests,  including those related to the maritime and energy industries. Clients looking to tap the vast potential advanced automation offers rely on us to identify and navigate the legal risks associated with regulatory compliance and commercial endeavors.

Our affiliate, Blank Rome Government Relations LLC, also has extensive and executive level experience in several industries (including a former Secretary of Energy and Chief Counsel with the Department of Transportation) and provides clients with insights into the legislative process, by monitoring and reporting on legislation pertaining to unmanned systems. We work with agencies to secure support for our clients’ requirements, obtain funding in the appropriations process, and help secure federal grants to meet our clients’ objectives, including those related to unmanned systems. Our attorneys are widely published and are regularly asked to speak on high-level panels addressing the multitude of issues that arise in connection with the drone industry.

How We Can Help

We are at the forefront of developing the right legal approach to meet the needs of stakeholders in many industries, and we assist clients interested in taking advantage of the developing regulatory and technological landscape in areas such as:

  • Aviation
  • Energy and critical infrastructure
    • Oil, gas, wind, and alternate energy sectors
    • Inspections and surveys
  • Maritime
    • Unmanned, remotely-operated and semi-autonomous surface vessels and underwater vehicles
    • Shipyard inspections
    • Class society surveys
    • Resupply at sea
    • Oil spill response
    • Maritime security measures ashore and afloat
  • Government contracts and federal or state grants
  • Professional sports
  • Cybersecurity
  • Construction and real estate
  • Military, federal, and state government acquisition
  • Property rights
  • UAS insurance, as well as advice, claims, and litigation
  • Intellectual property
  • Public and private higher education

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