Drones Are Here to Stay and That's a Good Thing

January 14, 2016 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The potential for using drones as commercial tools has grown exponentially in the past five years. Businesses are already finding clever ways to incorporate these vehicles into their existing practices, and a whole new industry is leveraging drone technology in exciting new ways.

The evolution of this technology has happened quickly, and the law is only now starting to catch up. This summer, the Federal Aviation Administration granted the Jacksonville-based Aviation Systems Engineering Company an exemption to a rule prohibiting the use of drones for commercial use. In recent years, the FAA has been forced to consider thousands of similar requests, and it appears that we may be on the verge of a complete overhaul to the guidelines regulating the use of unmanned aviation vehicles. This is a case where the law hasn’t accounted for the sudden popularity and utility of a specific technology.

From real estate to data collection to recreation, here are just a few ways that relaxed aviation laws could affect local and national commerce.

Inspecting Hard-to-Reach Areas

The Aviation Systems Engineering Company plans to use three highly specialized drones for heavy industrial use. Using remote control consoles, its team of highly trained pilots is able to inspect areas that would otherwise be difficult to reach, including pipelines, train tracks, remote agricultural sites and utility monitoring.

The eye-in-the-sky capability of drones is perhaps one of the most practical commercial prospects of drone technology with wide-ranging applications, but it’s also the area that has created the most hesitation on the part of the FAA. Because the technology has advanced so quickly, to the point where anyone can easily attain and operate a drone, the line between recreation and commercial use remains somewhat unclear. The FAA’s “Know Before You Fly” campaign is the first step toward clarification because it provides drone operators with a smartphone app that lets them know about specific regulations and up-to-date flight conditions. For company’s like the Aviation Systems Engineering Company, an informed public who understands these regulations is a first step toward wider acceptance of drones as a viable commercial tool.

Getting Real Estate Information

Inside Amazon's new fulfillment center in Lakeland, FL. Courtesy of the Lakeland Economic Development Council (LEDC).

As Amazon’s delivery drone experiments have proven, these unmanned aviation vehicles have the potential for wide use outside of data collection and observation. They also provide average consumers with products and services in a shorter amount of time and with greater efficiency.

One of the areas where drones are starting to have an unexpected effect is in the world of real estate. When it comes to buying and selling property, information is king. Buyers want to know everything, and agents want to do whatever they can to provide that information. Utilizing drone technology, real estate agents armed with little more than an iPad Pro are able to provide a potential buyer with a bird’s eye view of a large property. The high-definition retina display and remote streaming capabilities of the device can even give first-time home buyers some useful spatial context by comparing their house to others in the neighborhood as well as an idea of how close schools and services are to them.

Ultimately, drone technology is a cost-effective way to give a client a bit of piece of mind, and it presents boring numerical data in a visual way that is easier to understand. We’ve arrived in the future, and there’s nowhere we can’t go.

Guest Editorial by Cherie Wicks