|Commercial drones are now widely applied in different areas. (Photo courtesy of Copter Optics)|
San Francisco, May 15, (People’s Daily Online) - People will find in the near future that the sky over America is to get more crowded with commercial drones after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves it.
“People made a big fuss over Google’s announcement in April to acquire Titan Aerospace, a start-up that makes solar-powered drones. That’s just because they are not familiar with the flourishing “underground” drone market,” said John, a programmer and drone enthusiast who works at a technology company in the Bay Area. "I know so many people getting into this market now so that they will grasp the opportunity after the FAA prepares its new rules."
Although the word drone may remind people of the image of unmanned aerial military craft, commercial drones are quite popular, especially among business starters here in the San Francisco Bay Area. Commercial drones now are widely applied in different areas, such as coast patrolling, film shooting, radiation detecting and crops irrigation. Now some real estate agents even rent drones to take photo of the houses listing for sale.
And commercial drone startups are proliferating, including companies that build the vehicles as well as software firms that are creating electronic systems. And some big data companies are trying to gather information from the air by using the drones. It’s reported that last year saw a 79 million U.S. dollars of venture investment in 15 drone deals.
With the exploding drone market, the FAA faces more pressure from different groups. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International ever estimated that drones will add 70,000 jobs and 13.6 billion U.S. dollars to the U.S. economy over three years, once approved for commercial use.
But actually the FAA has repeatedly claimed that it is illegal to use commercial drones and it does have reasons to ban it. One reason is that drones would pose a hazard to aircraft, people or property on the ground. On March 22, a U.S. jet airliner nearly collided with an airborne drone in the sky in Florida. In addition, privacy groups concern about government agencies using drones in ways that could violate civil rights while some others worry that anyone with an inexpensive drone and camera could spy on others’ privacy.
“The drone technology is taking off and it has been a trend,” said Dave Lin, who has started his own drone business. “We are waiting for the regulation, so that we know the criteria and then we can make money.”
According to the FAA Reauthorization Act which President Obama signed in 2012, the agency is ordered to develop regulations for the testing and licensing of commercial drones by 2015.