Imagine being able to view multiple manufacturing systems from one media room. Or checking on the health of your crops across multiple farms. How about taking photos of your properties for sale. Monitoring protected lands for environmental hazards and regulatory compliance. And making consumer purchase deliveries. These are just some of the possibilities that could happen if drones become legal in the next couple of years. For now, they are just ideas on a table.
Use of unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes is illegal under FAA regulations today. However, a rule change being considered could open the door to commercial use of drones under some circumstances. “We expect the rule to make a start toward expanded commercial use of [unmanned aircraft],” an unidentified FAA spokeswoman told Money magazine.
Not surprisingly, Michael Toscano, president and chief executive of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) in Arlington, Va. , sees use of drones “growing exponentially” when the FAA makes such use legal. His industry picks for early adopters are:
- Real estate
- Environmental industries (including infrastructure companies and waste/spill clean-up concerns)
- Film and photographic industries
- Energy (oil & gas)
- Pharmaceutical distribution
- Retail (distribution)
We see interesting possibilities in manufacturing, as well.
Signs of increased tolerance toward commercial use of drones continues to grow. In September, The New York Times reported that, under pressure from Hollywood, the FAA ruled that six of seven companies that petitioned it could “use camera-equipped drones on certain movie and television sets.”
Toscano sees FAA liberalization taking place as early as mid-2015. He expects that drones flying under 500 feet will be the first to be allowed for commercial purposes, as that air space is generally unused by manned flights. I
An August AUVSI study projects that the first three years of commercialization will produce a total economic impact exceeding $13.6 billion, rising to $82 billion over 10 years, “creating more than 100,000 jobs in the first decade after integration,” Toscano said.
The main industries impacted will be agriculture and public safety. California, Washington and Texas are the top three states ranked according to projected spending on drones. The report can be accessed here.
Do you see drones having an application in your business? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.