DronesSource: iMore

What you need to know

  • Apple has hired a drone and aviation law specialist as a lobbyist.
  • Lisa Ellman, of Hogan Lovells, will lobby Washington on Apple's behalf.
  • Ellman is the head of the law firm's Unmanned Aircraft System's practice and a co-founder of the Commercial Drone Alliance.

Apple has hired drone and aviation law specialist Lisa Ellman as a Washington lobbyist, according to reports.

As reported by Bloomberg:

Apple Inc. has engaged a specialist in drone and aviation law as a Washington lobbyist, suggesting the company is pushing further into the growing field.

The Cupertino, California-based tech giant retained Lisa Ellman, a partner at Hogan Lovells, to conduct the lobbying. Ellman leads the law firm's Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice. She also co-founded the Commercial Drone Alliance and is working to expand the commercial drone industry, according to her biography online.

Ellman has reportedly been working with Apple since December, however, the filing was only made public this week. It further notes that Ellman also worked in the Obama administration and the Justice Department early on in her career.

According to the report, Apple lobbied the government on similar issues in both 2017 and 2018, specifically on the topics of "unmanned aerial vehicles" and "autonomous vehicles and unmanned aviation" respectively.

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There doesn't seem to be any clear indication as to what specifically Ellman has been brought on board for:

The company used drones a few years ago to help it collect mapping data. In December, it met with regulators about a proposed law that would require drones to sport virtual license plates. The company also sells several drones from DJI through the Apple website and Apple retail stores.

Apple has a team exploring satellites, a type of unmanned aircraft, and Ellman could assist in regulatory efforts that would need to be conducted to launch such an effort. Apple rivals, including Amazon.com Inc. and Alphabet Inc., have developed drones in recent years.

It seems unlikely that Apple would bring on board a lobbyist simply because of its vested interest in the sale of third party drones. It seems more likely that Apple is investigating the use of its own unmanned aerial equipment for commercial purposes.

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