Crain’s Detroit Business has an interesting read on the state of the burgeoning drone industry, outlining the ways it could make surveying faster and cheaper while pointing out the hurdles it faces from the Federal Aviation Administration.
Back in November, we reported on the Gatewing X100, a UAV or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (this is the preferred term among those in the drone industry since “drone” has negative connotations) designed specifically for surveying.
After uploading a map of the site to the X100 and launching it, surveying is fully-automated. As the UAV flies, it photographs the site and plots it to the map you’ve uploaded. Once it has landed, you simply connect the X100 to a computer where Gatewing software processes the data and images into a 3D map.
With that, and cheaper options that can be flown via remote control, in mind it’s easy to see the appeal and opportunity drones hold despite the negative perception many Americans may hold of the devices.
But what’s funny about all the controversy surrounding drones is that the technology is already readily available at most hobby shops. Remote control helicopters are nothing new and adding a camera to one is very inexpensive. “I laugh at the nightly news when they talk about these drones because none of this is new,” Chris Bergen, owner of Bergen R/C Helicopters in Cassopolis, Michigan told Crain’s.
Obviously, that’s not to say the concerns over the more-powerful and potentially more intrusive drones the U.S. Government wields are unfounded.
Despite that, the FAA has yet to permit commercial piloting of drones until it can come up with regulations on their use that would ease the fears and concerns of the American public. The FAA expects to issue those regulations by the end of the year.
Keep in mind, that the FAA’s regulations would only pertain to those who offer the service of piloting drones for money. It’s perfectly legal now for you to purchase an X100 from Gatewing and survey your own site with it. What currently isn’t allowed by the FAA is hiring a third party to come in and do so for you.
Once the FAA grants approval however, expect this industry to, ahem, take off in a big way.