Drones for Industry and Commerce

By Rick Rys

ARC Report Abstract

This ARC Advisory Group report explores commercial and industrial applications for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or what are commonly referred to as "drones." (NOTE: unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV, is an equivalent acronym). As discussed in this report, drone applications have rapidly grown in recent years to include a wide variety of commercial, municipal, industrial, and non-military government uses. They are changing many staffing requirements and creating new business opportunities in the private sector. This report does not cover surface water drones, underwater drones, or military drones.

Some of the biggest application areas for drones include agriculture, mining, land surveying, media and entertainment, warehouse inventory, government, and inspecting infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, buildings, cell towers, wind turbines, pipelines, and power lines.

As drones first started to take to the air, the many potential safety and privacy risks soon became apparent. The early use of drones quickly illustrated these risks and the gaps in aviation regulations. The global regulatory framework has not yet adapted to match the diverse way drones are used. Regulations limit many commercial uses for drones, but these are changing fast. New regulations will determine which drone applications are feasible. The regulations guide when, where, and how individuals and businesses can operate drones. As we'll discuss later in this report, regulation and enforcement (including potential fines for violators) continue to evolve.

Preliminary results from a recent ARC survey on drones indicates two interesting trends. First, companies that might benefit from drone usage admit they do not have adequate policies in place to manage this. Second, many larger companies that are using drone capabilities tend to contract out the service. This could change somewhat in the US when the upcoming "Part 107" regulations take force at the end of August 2016. These regulations make it more practical to create your own drone business and can provide an option to the FAA Section 333-exemption process, which requires a pilot's certificate to use drones for commercial purposes.


Table of Contents

  • Executive Overview
  • Drone-Related Applications Skyrocketing
  • Regulations Impact Commercial and Industrial Uses
  • Additional Complications in the Commercial Drone Industry
  • Trends for Drone Businesses
  • Recommendations


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Keywords: Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Drones, Aviation Regulations, FAA Section 333, Part 107 Regulations, ARC Advisory Group.

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