January 14, 2021

29 | Michigan

Score: 33/100
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  • Airspace Lease Law: 10/30
  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 0/10
  • Avigation Easement Law: 0/25
  • Drone Task Force or Program Office: 20/20
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: 3/15

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 authorities to create drone highways above local 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.
  • Drone Task Force or Program Office: Michigan gets full points. The state has an active drone task force overseen by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), with members from 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 in Michigan.

Factors Hindering the State Score

  • Law Vesting Air Rights with Landowners: 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.
  • 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.
  • Drone Jobs Estimate: Michigan has 5.8 drone-related jobs per 100,000 people, ranking it in the bottom half of states.

These factors make Michigan the 29th most drone-friendly state in the country.