Here’s how the U.S. government can accelerate drone deliveries
The federal government recently announced that it would create regulations for delivery drones by 2018, but the U.S. still lags behind the rest of the world in this regard.
European regulators created a framework for delivery drones last year, while China already allows drone deliveries and plans to create official regulations soon.
This slow adoption by the U.S. government has led companies such as Amazon to test their drones in other nations. U.S. regulators have restricted enterprise use of drones to only a few industries and cases, such as aerial photography and land surveying.
But a recent column in WIRED argued that the federal government could accelerate its approval of commercial drone deliveries and other enterprise drone usage.
For example, the Obama administration could order an interagency review of drone technology development to create a broad strategy at the federal level.
It could also enhance its export control policy, which insists that buyers who import drones from U.S. manufacturers use them according to international law. But it’s not clear how these rules apply to commercial drones, so clarification could help U.S. drone manufacturers make sales to international companies.
Finally, the FAA could accelerate the creation of policies that safely allow drones to share airspace with other aircraft. The FAA is expected to announce drone regulations within a few months, but the organization could consider Amazon’s proposal of reserving airspace less than 400 feet above the ground specifically for unmanned drones that are traveling great distances.
Drones turned the corner in 2015 to become a popular consumer device, while a framework for regulation that legitimizes drones in the US began to take shape. Technological and regulatory barriers still exist to further drone adoption.
Drone manufacturers and software providers are quickly developing technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance that will make flying drones safer. The accelerating pace of drone adoption is also pushing governments to create new regulations that balance safety and innovation.
Safer technology and better regulation will open up new applications for drones in the commercial sector, including drone delivery programs like Amazon’s Prime Air and Google’s Project Wing initiatives.
Jonathan Camhi, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed drones report that forecasts sales revenues for consumer, enterprise, and military drones. It also projects the growth of drone shipments for consumers and enterprises.
The report details several of world’s major drone suppliers and examines trends in drone adoption among several leading industries. Finally, it examines the regulatory landscape in several markets and explains how technologies like obstacle avoidance and drone-to-drone communications will impact drone adoption.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
- We project revenues form drones sales to top $12 billion in 2021, up form just over $8 billion last year.
- Shipments of consumer drones will more than quadruple over the next five years, fueled by increasing price competition and new technologies that make flying drones easier for beginners.
- Growth in the enterprise sector will outpace the consumer sector in both shipments and revenues as regulations open up new use cases in the US and EU, the two biggest potential markets for enterprise drones.
- Technologies like geo-fencing and collision avoidance will make flying drones safer and make regulators feel more comfortable with larger numbers of drones taking to the skies.
- Right now FAA regulations have limited commercial drones to a select few industries and applications like aerial surveying in the agriculture, mining, and oil and gas sectors.
- The military sector will continue to lead all other sectors in drone spending during our forecast period thanks to the high cost of military drones and the growing number of countries seeking to acquire them.
In full, the report:
- Compares drone adoption across the consumer, enterprise, and government sectors.
- Breaks down drone regulations across several key markets and explains how they’ve impacted adoption.
- Discusses popular use cases for drones in the enterprise sector, as well as nascent use case that are on the rise.
- Analyzes how different drone manufacturers are trying to differentiate their offerings with better hardware and software components.
- Explains how drone manufacturers are quickly enabling autonomous flight in their products that will be a major boon for drone adoption.
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