James Grimsley is a nationally recognized expert on policy and technology related to advanced aviation and aerial mobility, including drones and autonomous systems. Mr. Grimsley has appeared in numerous press outlets since 2007 speaking about technology policy issues and is a recognized speaker on the topic at international conferences and events. He serves on a variety of state and federal task and working groups related to drones and autonomous systems.
In April 2021, Mr. Grimsley testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Aviation Subcommittee on the topic of aviation innovation in the United States. He has also testified multiple times before the Oklahoma Legislature on aviation-related matters.
Mr. Grimsley is currently the Executive Director of Advanced Technology Initiatives for the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. He was also appointed to the Oklahoma Transportation Commission in May 2019 by Oklahoma House Speaker Charles McCall and currently serves as the Transportation Commissioner for Oklahoma District 2. He also serves on the board of directors for the Commercial Drone Alliance (CDA).
In November 2021, Mr. Grimsley was appointed to the Oklahoma Advanced Mobility Program Advisory Council. In June 2021, he was appointed to the FAA’s Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC).
Mr. Grimsley is the founder of successful technology company startups and is also a former Associate Vice President for Research at the University of Oklahoma – Norman Campus (OU). He was also the founding director of the OU Center for Applied Research and Development (CARD). He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering and an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Mr. Grimsley was a Division Chief Engineer and later an Assistant Vice President with Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Prior to SAIC, he served as a civilian electronics engineer with the United States Air Force and previously served as a Manager of Unmanned Systems Research for the Oklahoma Aerospace Institute (OAI).
Active in a variety of state organizations and initiatives in Oklahoma and the region related to the drone industry, Mr. Grimsley organized the Unmanned Systems Alliance of Oklahoma (USA-OK) and served as founding president. He also organized and led Oklahoma’s first six Oklahoma drone summits beginning in 2009. In 2011, Mr. Grimsley was appointed by Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to the Governor’s UAS Advisory Council and served through 2015. In 2016, Mr. Grimsley was appointed by the FAA to the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee – Subcommittee. In 2017 he was selected as a non-resident research fellow for the Noble Research Institute and has also served on advisory committees for higher education, vocational training programs and secondary education.
Mr. Grimsley is active in scholarly research in both technology and law, including co-authorship of a paper published in the William and Mary Law Review addressing constitutional issues associated with drone regulations. He has been previously recognized for contributions to the drone industry and advocacy work as well as his state and national leadership in the drone industry. Known both nationally and internationally, Mr. Grimsley is one of the leading recognizable figures in the drone industry and is frequently interviewed in the international media (The Economist, Fortune, USA Today, Associated Press, The Guardian Newspaper, CNBC, etc.). In 2014, he was recognized as an Oklahoma Innovator of the Year by the Oklahoma Journal Record newspaper.
In 2017, Mr. Grimsley led the proposal development and capture team for The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma for the FAA’s Drone Integration Pilot Program (IPP). The Choctaw Nation was ultimately selected as one of ten sites for the IPP by U.S. Department of Transportation. The Choctaw Nation was the only tribal government selected for the program. In 2020, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma transitioned into the follow-on FAA program for the IPP called BEYOND.
Mr. Grimsley is the inventor of two United States patents for aviation technology concepts.