The University of Michigan announced Friday that it has temporarily banned the use of drones on or above campus property until a University regulatory policies for the devices are finalized. This ban prohibits drone use in all outdoor campus spaces and public indoor spaces on campus, but does not apply to drone testing and research areas, according to a press release.

In the release, University spokesman Rick Fitzgerald said the ban is an attempt to curb future issues with the drones.

“As these types of devices continue to gain popularity and proliferate, and there is more and more of them out, we want to make sure that we have a safe environment for the University community,” Fitzgerald said. “Erring on the side of caution to give us some time to continue the work of developing a more comprehensive policy as well as a safe place to continue the research related to drones, we have put this temporary ban in place until we can continue that work.”  

This ban comes after an unauthorized drone landed on the UM Health System’s helipad last year, which raised University concerns about the devices, though the iincident was not exclusively responsible for the ban.

Martha Pollack, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs; Marschall Runge, executive vice president for medical affairs; Kevin Hegarty, executive vice president and chief financial officer; and S. Jack Hu, vice president for research, announced the temporary ban through an e-mail to University staff, according to the release.

The University will assemble an Institutional Autonomous Systems Committee to establish final policy and procedures to control use of unmanned systems and devices that operate in the air, on land or in water campuswide. Faculty, staff and student representatives will be included on this panel. A final policy agenda is expected by spring.

While this ban is in place, a new, netted outdoor facility for drone use is also under construction with expected completion by the end of this year.

“Clearly the policy will recognize that there are people on our campus that are doing research with drones; that is why, as noted in the e-mail, there is the intention to create this netted area so that the engineering research related to drones can continue, because that is an important part of our purpose as a research community,” Fiztgerald said.

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