Commercial Drones are Big Business with Huge Economics: But First FAA Must Draft Regulations ASAP, or U.S. Losses…

Commercial drones or, as the industry calls them, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles ( UAVs) are set to take over the skies soon, and become big business… According to Alistair Barr and Elizabeth Weise; the drone economy is booming abroad and an underground economy is growing fast in the U.S… But currently, it’s illegal to fly public commercial drones in the U.S… however, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is preparing to draft regulations for commercial drones in 2015.

But, many companies and entrepreneurs are saying that’s not quick enough, and many players are preparing their drones for private commercial use now, for example; thanks to drones’ ability to shoot aerial photos and video, as well as collect other data cheaply, drones are being used in many sectors, including; agriculture, construction, energy, mining, movie-making and television, sports… Most of the drone activity is outside the U.S. because of regulatory uncertainty, but despite the uncertainty the commercial potential of drones has begun to attract big investors and venture capital… The sky is the limit for drones when it comes to increasing profits and driving new sources of revenue… drones thXCOWPPRE According to some experts; once the FAA drafts its drone regulations, which will integrate unmanned aerial vehicles into U.S. airspace, then that could boost the economy by at least $13.6 billion in the first three years, and the economic benefit may top $82 billion between 2015 and 2025… It could also create more than 70,000 new jobs, including; 34,000 manufacturing positions, in first three years… but, according to other experts these numbers don’t account for impact of future regulation, focused on safety and privacy, which could increase the cost of operating drones and reduce the value of the technology…

According to Trevor Timm; there could be up to 30,000 drones flying in U.S. skies by 2020… According to Andrea Stone; right now the global market is worth $6 billion but it’s supposed to double to over $11 billion within the next decade… There are a number of obvious and many less-obvious applications that haven’t even been thought of yet, for example: According to Brad Mathson; the biggest opportunities, at least initially, is agriculture, for example;  using traditional methods, about 100 to 300 acres of farmland can be monitored a day, but by using drones that number can rise to 2,000 or 3,000 acres a day…

According to Ryan Kunde; drone can monitor on how grapevines are growing in vineyards– they can spot which grapes are developing quickest, which helps workers to decide where to harvest first… According to Gene Robinson; search and rescue service uses drones with high-resolution cameras and infrared sensors to track missing people, and helping authorities get access, more safely, to dangerous remote land areas. There many opportunities for entrepreneurs to apply drone technology for developing custom drone solutions for customers…  drones th In the article What to Know About Commercial Drones by Steve Dent writes: Do you know why you don’t see drones flying commercially  in the U.S.? It’s illegal. The FAA does not permit public– filming, crop-spraying, spying, tour-guiding, pizza delivery or any other commercial drone applications (however, you can fly one privately)… The FAA is charged with keeping the skies safe, and since drones could pose a danger to commercial aircraft, and also drones could be used to spy on individuals illegally, thus the FAA has been tasked with drafting  appropriate regulation for safe, legal operations.

On other hand, the UAV industry is already large despite the handicap of being arguably illegal… Once drones became powerful enough to carry cameras, a cottage industry sprang up with services at a fraction of the price of manned aerial photography, or satellites… So, U.S. companies are pushing the FAA to approve public commercial drone usage, ASAP.

But, FAA is being very careful with their rules, since drones could negatively impact air safety. For starters, it’s easy to imagine a package-laden drone dropping out of the sky and injuring or killing bystanders. The tightly controlled airspace system around airports is also vulnerable right down to ground level (drones are banned at any elevation in those areas)…

Despite potential economic benefits of drones, single accident would create a storm of negative publicity, particularly if it involved fatalities… Given complexity of the current airspace system, throwing tens of thousands of drones into the mix could create chaos. There have already been high-profile near misses between drones and commercial aircraft, including one incident that had the pilot actually bracing for a collision… drones3 th BI Intelligence Report says that there are issues and opportunities that will impact how the drone industry development, for example:

  • U.S. regulators plan to phase in public commercial drone flights beginning in 2015, starting with limited flights of small drones weighing 55 pounds or less.
  • Retail and e-commerce– along with the related logistics and shipping industries– arguably have the most at stake in the wide deployment of civilian and commercial unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). Drones might be the missing link in the shipping chain that allows for nearly immediate e-commerce deliveries…
  • Currently, military applications dominate the global UAV market, but commercial applications will quickly ramp up over the next 10 years, particularly after 2020.
  • Privacy and safety concerns still pose the greatest risk of public commercial drones in many markets, but if UAVs are rolled out gradually they believe benefits of drone commercial applications, such as; environmental monitoring, shipping, agriculture… will ultimately prove to provide significant economic value…

In the article The Potential For A New Drone-Powered Economy by Marcelo Ballve writes: Not too long ago, when most people heard the word ‘drones’, they thought of unmanned military aircraft engaged in highly controversial clandestine operations. But when Jeff Bezos announced that Amazon was testing the delivering of packages via drones, he made drones within popular commercial application suddenly seem like a viable proposition.

It’s estimated that 12% of an estimated $98 billion in cumulative global spending on aerial drones over the next decade will be for commercial purposes While drones are unlikely to become a part of your daily lives in the immediate future, they will soon begin taking on much larger roles for businesses and individual consumers, for example; delivering groceries, e-commerce orders, private security, farmers managing crops, and perhaps even aerial advertising… drones7 th In the article Drone-Assisted Farming are Taking Flight by Michelle Locke writes: Once strictly a military machine, drones have been slowly moving into civilian life. However, civil rights groups have raised concerns over possible invasions of privacy, especially in the context of law enforcement use… Commercial drones are not new, companies have used drones for agriculture spraying in Japan for over 15 years, and there are many companies interested in using drones in viticulture, for example; a Canadian company has modified a drone to resemble a hawk, initially using it to scare away grape-eating birds from vineyards, and they later realized they also could collect useful data on things like insect populations and diseased vines during the flights… But before the concept of vineyard drones takes off, grape growers are not convinced, yet…

According to Daniel Bosch; using the drone to fly along vineyard rows to get an idea of different levels of ripeness doesn’t save that much time, since it takes a while to watch the videos… On the other hand, there is potential to use drones to map vineyard temperatures more accurately than airplanes, since it can fly close to the vine canopy… However, an interesting use would be if an entire process could be automated, such as drones programmed to fly, complete a task, then return with the information…

Regulators are trying to crack the riddle of how to integrate drones into U.S. skies without jeopardizing air safety– but many drone developer describe the FAA process as a ‘frustratingly long wait’ for a solution… According to Robert Becklund; drones provides a great opportunity to shape a new age in aviation… there is no doubts that the ‘unmanned aircraft’ are absolutely going to change the civilian aircraft world. It’s already happening, all around us…

But despite the excitement around drones as the next chapter in aviation history, there is a growing frustration about the ponderous speed at which the new automated technology is being integrated into the national airspace. Under current FAA regulations, almost all commercial use of unmanned planes is strictly prohibited… aviation experts and UAV developers are concerned that the FAA’s slow rate of progress will jeopardize U.S. technological commercial leadership in unmanned aerial vehicles… According to Brendan Schulman; the U.S. may have already lost its edge… If you are a U.S. company with a promising drone product it’s very difficult to develop it in the U.S., so many are going to Canada, or UK, or Australia… where the regulatory environment is more friendly… drones5 th A U.S. Congress report on the proliferation of drones has confirmed a huge rise in the number of countries that now have unmanned aerial systems… The report states that between 2005 and December 2011, the number of countries that possess drones rose from 41 to 76… The report states that ‘the use of UAVs by foreign parties to gather information on U.S. commercial activity is already taking place…

The report reveals that between 2005 – 2010, the U.S. approved over $380 million of drone exports…  In total, the U.S. government approved transfers of complete UAV systems in 15 cases over that period of time, and eight of the 15 countries names in the report, included:  Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, United Kingdom, Australia, Colombia, Israel, Singapore…

According to Dr. David Bridges; people are chomping at the bit to use unmanned aircraft for commercial purposes… The goal is to develop procedures that will safely integrate unmanned aircraft into airspace with piloted aircraft…

Business is driving to deliver their goods and services– Faster! Cheaper! Better! And they see the use of drones as one place where these market drivers are converging. Direct warehouse to consumer shipping and reduction in manual labor are converging to change the mindset of delivery… Use of commercial drones will change, significantly, the economics and solutions for many businesses…