24 (Tied) | Colorado

Score: 38/100

  • Airspace Lease Law: 0/30 
  • Avigation Easement Law: 25/25 
  • Task Force or Program Office: 0/20 
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 10/10 
  • Sandbox: 0/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 3/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Colorado law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws as long as their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Colorado law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators because landowners know the extent of their property rights. Colorado law also affirms the existence of “estates, rights, and interests” in airspace, independent of the connection to the property owner of the land below the airspace.
  • Jobs Estimate: Colorado is in the middle quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving three out of five points.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Colorado law does not allow public authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state and local roads. An airspace lease law would allow state or local officials to create drone highways above these roadways.
  • Task Force or Program Office: The state legislature passed a law in 2017 creating a center within the Division of Fire Prevention and Control that studies the integration of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) as they relate to public safety functions. While commendable, the narrow scope of the center’s responsibilities does not satisfy the criteria of this report. State leaders should consider convening a statewide drone task force or creating a drone program office within the transportation department.
  • Sandbox: Colorado does not have a drone sandbox. There is an indoor drone-testing facility at Rifle Garfield County Airport for public safety users. However, the narrow scope of the site does not satisfy the criteria of this report. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing and should have a prominent, open invitation for drone companies to test their hardware and services.

These factors make Colorado tied (with Wyoming) for the 24th most drone-friendly state in the country.