In June, the Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S. announced a new set of rules around how drones can be used commercially. Prior to this, there were no formal rules in place. Any drone operator who took money for their services had to apply for a permit from the aviation authority, much like we here in Canada must apply for a Special Flight Operations Certificate (SFOC) from Transport Canada.
The new regulations south of the border don't allow for total freedom of drone use. For example, the UAV must still be flown within the pilot's line of sight, and only during daytime. The drone can't travel faster than 100 miles per hour, or higher than 400 feet. The user must be older than 16 years and pass a certification test, and the drone itself must weigh under 55 pounds. If a drone user wants to go beyond any of the FAA's perameters, they'll have to get special permission.
Those rules came into effect on August 29, and since then a lot of people have been wondering what this means for the drone industry at large. There are a lot of implications.
1. You're going to see a lot more drones
The FAA expects 600,000 drones to be used commercially within a year.
They say that there are currently 20,000 drones that are registered for commercial use. They attribute the projected uptick directly to the new rules.
"The FAA forecasts there could be as many as 600,000 unmanned aircraft used commercially during the first year after this rule is in place," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a press conference. "Drones are helping to create a whole new means of realizing the American dream," he added.
Huerta said more than 3,000 people preregistered to take the certification test the same day the regulations took effect.
2. Do they go far enough?
While the new rules open the door to increased use, there are critics. Jason Snead writes:
Complying with these restrictions means forgoing the most beneficial and advanced uses for drones, like package delivery, infrastructure inspection, and disaster relief. It also undermines efforts to find technological solutions to valid safety concerns through trial and error and consumer feedback.
The FAA would leave American consumers, and the American economy, with only the most basic drone technologies and services. U.S. companies, meanwhile, are expected to graciously accept these regulatory restrictions.
According to Snead, the restricitve rules have prompted tech companies to take their projects overseas.
3. Where drones will have the biggest impact
The professional services network PwC released a forecast that outlines where the biggest impact will be. "The key market segments for near-term drone services are infrastructure and agricultural surveys—in other words, the inspection and monitoring of any sizable physical assets that need to be protected, nurtured, and maintained," reads the report.
Check out their infographic below (click to enlarge):
(Photo credit: Denys Nevozhai/Unsplash)