News / Economy

Commercial Drone Industry Poised for Fast Growth

Commercial Drone Industry Poised For Fast Growthi
X
Jim Randle
June 11, 2014 9:58 PM
U.S. regulators have approved the first use of commercial drones in the United States, giving an industry that is expected to create thousands of jobs and reap billions of dollars a step forward. The unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, will inspect oil facilities in remote Alaska. But it's just the first step toward creating rules intended to maintain safety in crowded skies while still allowing entrepreneurs to create a whole new industry. As VOA's Jim Randle reports, experts say this industry is poised for fast growth.
U.S. regulators have approved the first use of commercial drones in the United States, giving an industry that is expected to create thousands of jobs and reap billions of dollars a step forward.  The unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAVs, will inspect oil facilities in remote Alaska. But it's just the first step toward creating rules intended to maintain safety in crowded skies while still allowing entrepreneurs to create a whole new industry.

Camera drones can create stunning videos, giving viewers the sensations of effortless flight.

Creating such pictures for movies or television once required expensive manned aircraft.  But rapidly improving computers, software, communications and electronics - along with much experimentation by entrepreneurs - means an unmanned vehicle costing a few thousand dollars can do the job and perform a fast-growing number of other tasks.  Online retail giant Amazon is experimenting with drones to deliver packages.

The University of California, Davis is experimenting with Japanese drones to spray insecticide, in the hope that it will be more precise and cheaper than manned aircraft or ground operations.

The head of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International Michael Toscano hopes U.S. officials will soon make rules that allow these and other drones to operate safely away from other planes - and allow this infant industry to blossom and grow.  

 “In the first three years there would be over $13.6 billion of economic benefit and about 70,000 new jobs," he said.

Experts say the drone industry involves small entrepreneurs as well as large technology companies and is growing at an exponential rate.

The head of drone company Team BlackSheep, Raphael Pirker, says his work is maturing from an entertaining hobby to a serious business.

“Now it’s getting more to the point where business is getting involved and the bottom line matters," he said. "They will calculate the cost of, for example, a film crew in a real helicopter versus a film crew with a drone and the benefits of that, how good is the picture quality."

A key expert says companies will find more and more uses for smaller, relatively inexpensive drones, and those new ways of doing business may change our society.
 
“It just makes a difference, a significant difference, not necessarily a revolution in the way we organize society," said Professor Keith Hayward of the Royal Aeronautical Society in London Hayward.

Military unmanned vehicles are built and operated by the United States and many other nations.  They have played a controversial role in spying and fighting wars.  In many cases, military UAVs resemble combat aircraft in their complexity, large size and multi-million-dollar costs.   

Most commercial drones evolved from radio-controlled model aircraft.  They are relatively cheap, usually weigh a kilogram or so, and are more likely to carry a package or a pizza than a bomb.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9103
JPY
USD
119.37
GBP
USD
0.6704
CAD
USD
1.2481
INR
USD
62.371

Rates may not be current.