Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs aka “drones”) have quickly become a profitable tool used for everything from aerial wedding photography to easing outdoor research to providing eyes in the sky for the military. But what else are drones providing other then extremely useful tools? Billions.
Darryl and Vasigh (2013) estimated our now nascent UAV industry will expand into an $82.1 billion dollar industry between 2015-2025. Total direct, new jobs created by 2025 will be an estimated 103,776. Some of the top uses for unmanned aircraft systems to date are precision agriculture and public safety. Every year that this crucial integration is delayed, we loose an estimated 10 billion a year in potential economic impact.
With such benefits, what’s the hold up? Simply put, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) wants to make sure that sufficient research is conducted to insure that UAV integration goes smoothly. They choose six test sites to carry out this research. The FAA is also developing regulations, guidance, and training requirements. The journey of this integration will culminate in an airspace integration policy wherein UAV will be more neatly folded into the National Airspace System. My question simply is; Will the FAA’s need for extensive restrictions hold up or limit a billion dollar industry? I guess we will find out in the next five to ten years.
Federal Aviation Administration. 2013. Integration of Civil Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) in the National Airspace System (NAS) Roadmap. FAA Report 2012-AJG-502. 72 pp. Accessed 7 February, 2016.
Jenkins, Darryl and Bijan Vasigh. 2013. The Economic Impact of Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration in the United States. AUVSI Report, March 2013. 38 pp. Accessed 7 February, 2016.