The recent revolutions in unmanned aviation technology are helping to open an entirely new commercial landscape. Once the purview of specialized services that required high-expense manned aircraft, the sky is literally the limit for commercial drone services. Operations that are traditionally anchored to the ground can now gain a vertical edge over their competitors by integrating unmanned aerial vehicles.
Industry giant Amazon has developed drone technology to deliver goods directly to the door of their consumers. Facebook is researching the possibility of delivering wireless internet to developing areas through drone technology. While these possibilities may be years away, drone technology has already had an impact on how businesses operate.
Commercial drones provide a bird’s eye view to companies that rely on accurate, current overhead information. Flood plain mapping and agriculture both benefit from a high vantage point, while infrared camera mounted drones can effectively identify heat inefficiencies in structures. Aerial photography has become a must for real estate agents and building inspectors. The oil and gas industry is adopting a fleet of inspection drones for hard to reach locations on oil rigs and remote pipelines.
Police departments are realizing the capacity for Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) to provide real-time monitoring of situations on the ground. Where helicopters were once necessary for pursuing suspects and monitoring traffic situations, quadcopter drones now provide a much more cost-effective and much less intrusive option.
In June of 2016, the Federal Aviation Administration relaxed the rules for commercial drone operation. No longer requiring a pilot’s license and special dispensation to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle for business purposes, they established the Commercial Drone License This opened the avenue for the creation of a commercial drone course. Independent organizations and companies now offer this commercial drone course to prepare prospective pilots to fly in adherence to the FAA’s requirements, and to pass the test to gain their Commercial Drone License.
As drones become more ubiquitous, opportunities for drone pilots and businesses that provide drone-focused services are likely to expand at a rapid pace. Those who invest themselves early and establish a presence in the industry will not only enjoy the immediate rewards, but the benefits of getting in on the ground floor of an emerging field.