The move to hire former Obama administration expert Lisa Ellman suggests that Apple may be looking to utilize more drones in the future.
Lisa Ellman, a partner at Hogan Lovells, will lobby for Apple in Washington D.C. Ellman was responsible for the law firm's Unmanned Aircraft Systems practice and co-founded the Commercial Drone Alliance. She was recently listed in Fortune's "Most Powerful Women" series for her efforts to develop policy to govern drone use.
Ellman had worked for the Obama administration and the Justice Department earlier in her career. She is actively working to expand commercial drone use within the U.S.
Apple has had a vested interest in drones since 2017, when it began using them to collect data for Apple Maps.
Apple had lobbied the government on drone-related issues in both 2017 and 2018, according to disclosures to the U.S. Senate, as pointed out by Bloomberg.
In 2018, Apple had joined a special U.S. drone program that allowed it to test beyond what is normally allowed by the Federal Aviation Administration. The tests included flying over crowds, night flights, and operating outside of a pilots line-of-sight.
It is not currently clear what Apple's intentions are with its new lobbyist. It is safe to assume that the hire is intended to influence the development of laws relevant to drone-based improvement of Apple Maps.