While the FAA continues to weigh different options on how to regulate the domestic use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS), the use of drones have already been in play, for better or for worse.
In September, the agency approved permits for UAS use to seven Hollywood production companies and allowed law enforcement to use drones to aid in the search of a woman in Dallas. In contrast, a student at the University of Texas was arrested for flying one at a school football game.
The debate on who should be allowed to operate these machines is ongoing, but the benefits of using unmanned drones are broad. Public safety and entertainment value aside, drones range in size and capability and can be equipped to handle a range of tasks. Companies across numerous industries recognize this.
In anticipation of the 2015 deadline for the FAA report, here is a short list of companies that could also benefit from consumer drone expansion — some that are more obvious, and some you may not have thought of right away.
1. Major League Baseball
Fill in the blank with any sports organization that relies on the power of images to compel and grow their sports, but Major League Baseball has been in the news recently for its usage of drones. During Spring Training this year, the Washington Nationals used drones to capture publicity photos in Viera, Florida. In a sport that is heavily in competition with the NFL and NBA, Major League franchises want to gain an edge in their local markets. MLB should consider some kind of usage on a larger scale, but may have to sort out the air rights with MetLife and the Snoopy Blimp.
GoPro, or any company that makes portable and wearable cameras that can be operated remotely, can see huge benefits when they collaborate with drone companies. The craze has already begun, with footage of a GoPro capturing footage of an erupting volcano.
3. American Farm Products
According to the American Farm Bureau, there are about 2.2 million farms in the U.S., most of them family-run. Farmers are always looking for a way to better assess their crops, something that drones can help them do in the air or on the ground — and operated from the comfort of their homes, no less. Michigan-based American Farm Products, and companies like it across the country, could definitely find some usage in drones, if they invest in the research and development.
4. RGM and Shinola
Creators across the country are breaking new territory with the emergence of wearable technology. Nixie has a product for a wearable drone that launches from your wrist! Wearable technology is growing and is ample territory for the traditional fashion sector to collaborate with tech startups. RGM and Shinola, perceived as America’s top watch manufacturers, have the reputation and prestige to collaborate with startups — and give Rolex and Omega new inroads to product directions for the watch industry.
Drones have an uncanny ability to analyze and collect information for research purposes. Gizmodo, in September, reported that a drone helped researchers map out, in 3D imaging, ancient Maya sites in Mexico. In the U.S., where anthropological and archaeological research is ongoing and numerous, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) enable researchers to capture and analyze geographical and spatial data for various research purposes. It is the drone’s capacity for more accurate results that could compel the development of integrated technologies for companies like Esri, one of America’s larger GIS developers, and their relationships with academic institutions and think tanks.
Do you have any other companies in mind that may benefit from expanding uses of drones in the US? Let us know.