Drones in Business
HandelontheLaw.com Staff Writer
Most recent news about drones centers on their aggressive military use. However, the technology is easily applied to several other arenas, one of which is commerce.
Higher education is beginning to train Americans for potentially lucrative drone-related jobs. Approximately 350 U. S. institutions, including 14 universities and colleges, possess FAA permits to fly Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) for education and research. Degrees in drone piloting are granted by 3 U. S. universities: Kansas State University, North Dakota University and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida.
The higher education programs don't merely offer flight simulation. For example, at Embry-Riddle, students are required to complete 13 Engineering credits to ensure they thoroughly understand the drone system.
The uptick in training programs shows Higher Education’s belief in a forthcoming immense explosion of commercial drones. The current boom is also aided by a big Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) setback. In late February 2015, the FAA lost a court scuffle in which the judge said the FAA may not regulate the use of drones without permitting a comment period by the general public. As a result, many of the imposed $10,000 fines for operating without an FAA permit were reversed and commercial drone operators were quickly back in business, particularly for real estate and advertising firms.
Furthermore, the FAA issued a proposal more amenable to commercial drone use. Commercial drones weighing less than 55 lbs. are acceptable and pilots need only pass a written test to show their basic understanding of aeronautics without obtaining pilots licenses.
Large retailers are also unveiling plans to incorporate drones in their businesses. Amazon.com has already stated its intention of using a drone delivery service that could deliver a package to a customer’s doorstep within minutes of the order’s placement. Google is also experimenting with a drone delivery system, anticipating single pilots simultaneously guiding multiple drones. European Platform Unmanned Cargo Aircraft (PUCA) is developing larger, slower drones with an eye toward a single drone pilot guiding 30 drones at once to deliver products in remote locations. Finally, the US-based Skycatch is using drones to map areas for mining and construction companies and ultimately wants to operate an Uber-like commercial drone service in which people use their smartphones to temporarily hire commercial drones for private uses.
Though we are not quite at George Jetson’s flying-car level yet, drones are rapidly developing to ably assist military, disaster and commercial needs. Apparently, drone piloting is one hot job for the future.
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