Perhaps the cost of identifying and obtaining conflict-free materials could be eased through partnerships. A few companies are already leaders in compliance. If other companies partner with them for certification and procurement of these resources, the compliance costs can be shared and the need to "reinvent the wheel" is eliminated. There are enough companies in this effort already that we don't need to worry about a monopoly developing - and the new conflict-free materials supply-line might make a nice side business. There would also be economies of scale with larger purchase volumes being purchased.
There are several problems with the author's statement:
"For the moment, and because earlier this year the Appellate Court struck down part of the rule, section 1502 in the wide-ranging Dodd-Frank legislation does not force companies to cease the use of these conflict minerals"
For starters, as all tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are defined by Dodd-Frank to be conflict minerals, regardless of origin, Dodd-Frank does not, nor will it, "force companies to cese the use of these conflict minerals." It would be quite an engineering feet to manufacture electronics without tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold.
Second, assuming the author meant to refer to conflict minerals associated with conflict mines, the act does not forbid the use of these either as that was determined to be a likely WTO violation. Dodd-Frank, intended as a "name and shame," provision, requires only that companies report on the sourcing of their minerals with the hope that they will be shamed into avoiding doing business with conflict mines and others promoting violence.
Drones are, in essence, flying autonomous vehicles. Pros and cons surrounding drones today might well foreshadow the debate over the development of self-driving cars. In the context of a strongly regulated aviation industry, "self-flying" drones pose a fresh challenge. How safe is it to fly drones in different environments? Should drones be required for visual line of sight – as are piloted airplanes? Join EE Times' Junko Yoshida as she moderates a panel of drone experts.