June 27, 2022

19 (Tied) | Michigan

Score: 41/100
  • Brent Skorup

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  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: 0/10
  • Sandbox: 10/10
  • Jobs Estimate: 1/5

Factors Helping the State Score

  • Airspace Lease Law: Michigan law allows local authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above local roads. Such a law allows local officials to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the state did not receive full points, because the law is silent as to whether state officials can lease airspace above state roads and state property.
  • Task Force or Program Office: Michigan gets full points. The state has an active drone task force, overseen by the Michigan Department of Transportation, consisting of members of various state governmental agencies. This 27-member task force was created by the legislature in 2017 and develops statewide policy recommendations on the operation, use, and regulation of drones.
  • Sandbox: Michigan’s Detroit Region Aerotropolis offers airspace access to drone companies, is affiliated with the state transportation department, and has a prominent, open invitation to drone companies to test their hardware and services.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Avigation Easement Law: Michigan law does not create an avigation easement, which means drone operators may be subject to nuisance and trespass laws, even if their drones do not disturb people on the ground.
  • Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights: Michigan law does not expressly provide air rights to landowners, which raises litigation risk for drone operators because landowners do not know the extent of their property rights and may sue to protect their interests.
  • Jobs Estimate: Michigan is in the bottom quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, receiving one out of five points.

These factors make Michigan tied (with Ohio) for the 19th most drone-friendly state in the country.