What started off as a hobby, is rapidly changing into a serious business opportunity. It’s estimated the global drone market (for civilian and military use combined) will touch about $9.5 billion in the current year. Growth will continue steadily, rising even faster than previously expected as regulatory and technology issues get resolved. We estimate the inflection point could even be a couple of years earlier than what the Business Insider has predicted.
Key Growth Areas
While casual readers fantasize about Amazon delivery and pizza reaching them at the speed of sound, real drone use growth is likely to focus on a few major industries: energy, utilities, agriculture, mining, construction, news media, real estate, and film production.
As the FAA understands drone operations better and as regulations for safer sustained operations are put into place, a larger number of jobs will be handed over to drones and their remote pilots. A renewable energy industry paper estimates that using drones to inspect wind turbines will cost only 20%-25% of the cost of manual inspections. The time saved will be even greater.
As the FAA gets on board, its regulations are getting more practical and user-friendly. Previously, you were limited to flying 400 feet above ground level. With the recent changes, now if you are flying within 400 feet of a structure, you can fly up to 400 feet above the structure. If your drone is flying near a building that is 500 feet tall, you can now fly up to 400 feet above it.
However, some regulations are still too restrictive. Consider for example the rule that says you have to keep the drone in sight. Package delivery is simply not possible if this restriction remains. This particular rule may be reasonable to the hobbyist, but must change if we’re ever going to have Amazon products delivered to our doors.
Waivers still take too long
While the FAA website allows operators to apply for waivers to get exemptions, the expected time to get submit one is within 90 days. This delay is not a practical proposition if you are planning to use your drone for news coverage or another event that is time critical. It is very likely this may change over time.
While there is still some ambiguity over drone regulations, it is great to see the FAA taking a proactive stance and is regulating an industry that is still in its infancy. Only this proactive approach will ensure growth and development of the US drone industry.
David King Chief Technical Officer
Serving as the Chief Technology Officer, David is responsible for the discovery and implementation of new technologies that yield competitive advantages while working closely with Executive Management to develop strategies to increase revenue and performs cost-benefit and return-on-investment analysis.
In October 2005, David joined AEgis Technologies as Director of the Simulation Development Group. During that time, David helped formulate the direction of AEgis’ software development efforts to ensure maximum reusability, thereby speeding ongoing development while reducing costs. His focus is technology transfer to commercial products and product development. Under his leadership, the Simulation Development Group developed and fielded over 8000 UAS training systems across the DOD. David has held the title of Vice President, Simulation Development and most recently, Executive Vice President, Technology Solutions Division.
With more than 25 years in the Modeling, Simulation, and Training industry – and having served in product design and development, technology advancement, project management, and leadership positions. David is a recognized leader and innovator in the MS&T industry, having co-founded, matured and sold a two-man start-up company into a highly-successful small business (CG2, Inc.) in just seven years with no outside venture capital or investments. In addition to being recognized locally as an “Outstanding Small Business” for three consecutive years by the Madison County Chamber of Commerce.
Before co-founding CG2, David spent eight years in the US Army in missile-related fields. He worked for Electronic Associates Inc. and later AMTEC Corporation at Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville, AL, on a broad range of projects including the Sensor Vision III Real-Time IR Scene Generator, JAVELIN, STINGER, CHAPARRAL BAT, AIT, and THAAD HWIL simulations.
Specialties: Modeling, Simulation and Training. Hardware in the Loop, real-time simulations.