Forbes: Why The Use Of Drones Still Faces Big Regulatory Hurdles

By Dave Marcontell, Steve Douglas, Guillaume Thibault, Robbie Bourke

This article first appeared in Forbes on September 10, 2018.  

The world of aviation and aerospace is on the cusp of a revolution based on autonomous flight and drone technology. While today’s drones are used for such tasks as inspecting tracks or power lines and assessing wildfires, tomorrow’s larger models will transform industries like construction and retail by carrying heavy cargo to hard-to-reach places. In less than a decade, traffic congestion and urban pollution could be eased by electric unmanned aircraft transporting people or products around cities.

Yet, reaching that potential will take new regulation and most likely advances in technology to enhance safe operation. Despite the business community’s impatience with what is seen as a go-slow approach to drones, a failure to sufficiently test and validate these rapidly emerging technologies could doom that blossoming revolution with the first loss of life from a drone mishap. Before the technology can be embraced for extensive commercial use, the risks — especially from bigger drones — must be identified, and strategies to mitigate those hazards must be developed ...

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By The Beginning Of 2018, Total Drone Registrations With The Faa Had Topped One Million

The faa expects registrations to top three million by 2022 (in thousands)

1.   Cumulative FAA registrations of modeler (hobbyist) and non-modeler including commercial and research drones as of January 18, 2018

Source: US Federal Aviation Administration, Oliver Wyman analysis

If a small, battery-powered drone falls out of the sky, the risk is minimal. That will change dramatically if big UAS begin to travel long distances and run on fuel.