February 23, 2015

Technology Trends: Drones

With the increase of drone technology, there has been growing demand for deregulation of the drone industry. Tight regulations, set by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have kept Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) from wide commercial use. In the past week, there has been a slight loosening of the reigns, with new commercial-use regulations. Additionally, the State Department approved a policy allowing for the sale of armed drones to US allies. This week, we take a look at these changes and what they may mean for businesses over the coming years. 

FAA Rules Might Allow Thousands of Business DronesThe Washington Post

The FAA recently released a new set of proposed rules for domestic commercial drone use. Among other restrictions, drones must: operate under 100 mph, fly below an altitude of 500 feet, and stay in sight range of the operator. This last stipulation has temporarily delayed the advancement of some commercial uses, such as package deliveries; however, the FAA will not require expensive certifications or a pilot’s license to use the aircrafts, trusting operators to abide by the set safety precautions. The FAA regulations, coupled with a Presidential Memorandum, hope to promote the safety and transparency of drone use. The FAA expects the rules to be finalized in 2017. 

As Rules Get Sorted Out, Drones May Transform Agriculture Industry NPR

Drones have the potential to have a beneficial impact on many commercial industries, including agriculture. A technician at Agribotix, a drone startup, demonstrates how the camera-enabled aircraft would work as a surveillance tool for farmers, allowing them to save money by treating only certain problem spots among a large crop, instead of an entire field. 

NoFlyZone, a ‘Do Not Call’ List For DronesFortune

With the rise in drone use, and the concern for future privacy invasion, NoFlyZone.org allows private citizens to register their address in hopes that drones will avoid their airspace. Over 10,000 people have signed up so far, with the number anticipated to grow. There is currently no way to enforce the list; however, some drone manufacturers are beginning to pre-program geofence technology into the machines before sale.

Solace Power Takes Aim at Wireless Mid-Flight Charging For DronesTech Crunch

One of the largest problems facing the commercial use of drones is their short battery life. Solace Power has partnered with Boeing to develop a solution: wireless-charging stations. The new technology, which could remove the need for shorter flights or physical contact charge, would mean more time in the air and more efficient industrial drone fleets.   

US Approves the Sale of Armed DronesBloomberg

This week, for the first time, the State Department released a policy allowing for the sale of armed drones to US allies. The global production and sale of military drones is expected to rapidly increase over the next decade, with China anticipated to lead the market in 2025.