To reduce the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19, many Louisianans are foregoing shopping in stores and are instead, ordering their necessities online through services like Amazon, Postmates, and Instacart. But these delivered goods are still interacting with human handlers multiple times before they make it to consumers.

What if there was a way to reduce the number of times these goods could potentially be exposed to COVID-19 while also speeding up delivery time? Drone delivery would give Louisiana the power to make this happen.

Drone delivery is a proven technology that has been used in places like China. Drones not only deliver commercial goods, but more importantly, they quickly and safely transport medical supplies. This has proven especially critical for rural areas and communities in China lacking proper infrastructure, a problem many Louisiana communities also face.

Unfortunately, drone delivery hasn’t taken flight in Louisiana because of current policy issues. A recent study from the Mercatus Center ranks Louisiana ranks 37th in drone preparedness. The low ranking is attributed to the following factors.

  • No property rights established for drones in Louisiana: Currently, drone operators don’t know where they can operate their drones legally when crossing government or private property.
  • Nuisance or trespass laws: Louisiana lacks clarity when it comes to whether drones are subject to nuisance and trespass laws when in flight.

While Louisiana does allow for drones to be used for agricultural purposes, both medical and commercial delivery remain practically impossible at this time.

But as Gov. John Bel Edwards has been breaking down barriers to industries like telemedicine and medical testing, he can also work with the appropriate agencies to develop emergency rules to allow for the use of drones. First, the governor should focus on medical supplies and then move to addressing consumer delivery.

While having a more robust drone policy is ideal in the long term, and there are currently proposals seeking to do just that, direct actions to open access to drone delivery is needed in our state now.

Drones mean faster delivery of both medical and consumer goods with less risk of infection at a time when Louisianans are sheltering in place and social distancing. We just need clarity in Louisiana laws and leaders working to unleash this extremely useful innovation to make it happen.