The Brinc and Skydio Saga in the Drone Market – sUAS News – The Business of Drones

Nine Ten Drones

The AUVSI — Association for Uncrewed Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) has played a pivotal role in the evolution of the unmanned systems industry, particularly in the realm of drones. While the organization has significantly contributed to the advancement and regulation of unmanned systems, it has also been embroiled in controversy, especially concerning its lobbying efforts with companies like BRINC and Skydio. These efforts are seen as attempts to edge out Chinese competition in the drone market.

Founding and Early Years

AUVSI was founded in 1972 to promote and support the unmanned systems and robotics community. From its early days, the organization focused on advancing technology, creating a forum for idea exchange, and influencing policy related to unmanned systems.

Growth and Industry Influence

As drone technology advanced, AUVSI expanded its influence. It began hosting major conferences and became a key player in advocating for unmanned systems’ integration into various sectors, including commercial, defense, and humanitarian efforts. In 2015, AUVSI rebranded the annual conference to “Xponential” at the time the US commercial drone market was beginning to boom.

In 2018, AUVSI launched the Trusted Operator Program (TOP), a certification path for drone operators, designed to establish safety, professionalism, and reliability in drone operations. It builds upon the basic FAA Part 107 license, offering three levels of certification that reflect increasing complexity and risk in UAV operations.

The Turn Towards Lobbying

A critical aspect of AUVSI’s work involved lobbying for regulations and policies favorable to the unmanned systems industry. This role became particularly significant as drones started to become ubiquitous in both commercial and military applications.

The Controversy with Brinc and Skydio

A major controversy recently emerged when AUVSI, in conjunction with American drone manufacturers like brinc and skydio, were accused of lobbying against Chinese drone manufacturers. The key points of this controversy included:

  • Allegations of Unfair Practices: AUVSI was accused of pushing for policies and regulations that unfairly targeted Chinese manufacturers like DJI. Critics argue that these efforts are protectionist, aiming to give American companies an upper hand.
  • Security Concerns as a Front: The lobbying often cited national security concerns regarding Chinese-made drones. Critics, however, see this as a guise for protectionism, arguing that it was more about market competition than actual security threats.
  • Impact on Competition: The campaign led to increased scrutiny of Chinese drones in the U.S., affecting their market share and giving American companies like brinc and skydio a competitive edge.
  • Reactions from the Chinese Manufacturers: Chinese companies are responding by questioning the motives behind these lobbying efforts, suggesting they are driven by commercial rather than security interests.

Broader Implications

The actions of AUVSI and its collaboration with brinc and skydio have broader implications:

  • Market Dynamics: The lobbying efforts significantly impacted the global drone market dynamics, influencing both the commercial and security aspects of drone usage.
  • Policy and Regulation: The controversy highlighted the complexities in formulating policies for emerging technologies, balancing national security, market competition, and technological advancement.
  • International Relations: The issue also played into larger narratives of U.S.-China trade relations and technological rivalry.

Increased US Competition for Skydio:

  • Market Opportunities: By creating hurdles for Chinese manufacturers, the lobbying may have opened up market opportunities for other US drone manufacturers like Inspired Flight Technologies Inc., ACSL Inc. and Uniform Sierra Aerospace. This situation could have led to more companies entering the market, thus increasing competition for Skydio.
  • Innovation and Improvement: The reduced presence of dominant Chinese manufacturers like DJI in the US market could have spurred innovation among US companies. As a result, skydio might face competition from new or existing companies that intensified their R&D efforts to fill the gap.
  • Collaborative Ventures: The altered market dynamics might have encouraged collaborations or partnerships among US drone companies to leverage each other’s strengths and compete more effectively both domestically and globally.
  • Diversification of Product Offerings: With a shift in market dynamics, companies have diversified their product offerings to cater to different segments of the market, potentially increasing competition among US manufacturers.
  • Increased Scrutiny and Expectations: As the focus shifted away from Chinese manufacturers, companies like skydio have faced increased scrutiny from customers and regulators, expecting higher standards in privacy, security, and technology.
  • Public Perception and Brand Image: The controversy surrounding the lobbying efforts has influenced public perception of skydio and brinc. Companies not involved in such practices have gained a reputation advantage (Inspired Flight Technologies Inc., ACSL Inc., Uniform Sierra Aerospace), thus increasing competition for skydio in terms of brand image and trust.
  • Global Market Dynamics: While the US market dynamics are changing, skydio and other US companies still face competition on a global scale, where Chinese and other international manufacturers maintain strong positions.

The full impact of these lobbying efforts on skydio and the broader market dynamics will depend on various factors including consumer responses, technological advancements, and ongoing international trade relations.


The history of AUVSI is marked by significant contributions to the unmanned systems industry but is also shadowed by its controversial lobbying efforts in alliance with companies like brinc and skydio. These efforts, aimed at limiting Chinese competition in the drone market, raise important questions about fair competition, the role of lobbying in technology policy, and the intersection of national security with commercial interests. As the UAS industry continues to evolve, the actions and motivations of influential organizations like AUVSI will remain a critical focus for stakeholders in the unmanned systems arena.

Latest articles


Related articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here