Today, I heard a research presentation on the economics of drone warfare and it reminded me to follow up on my Drone Home post. Congress gave the FAA until 2015 to integrate drones (or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles to you sophisticates) into U.S. commercial airspace. The New Year is upon us, and so is the question – Dude, where’s my TacoCopter?
To be fair, Congress gave the FAA until September. But why wait? Just file for an exemption, and you can join the lucky UA-VIPs who already fly the red, white, and blue skies.
- BP got permission to survey pipelines and other energy infrastructure in Alaska.
- Several TV and film companies can use UAVs on their sets.
- Five companies got permission in December for aerial surveying, construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. I don’t know what an “oil rig flare stack” is, but it seems like something you should keep an eye on.
- And on January 6, they let a real estate company fly drones “to enhance academic community awareness and augment real estate listing videos.”
Lest you think the FAA hands out drone licenses like TicTacs, you’ll still have to wait in a pretty long line. The FAA currently is considering exemption requests from hundreds of companies and individuals. I hoped to find a few really strange proposals, but most of them appear reasonable – agriculture surveys, aerial photography, search and rescue, and, of course, training people how to operate drones. Some of the more entrepreneurial applicants requested exemptions for every use that the FAA has approved for other companies. After all, once you get permission for commercial drone use, why limit yourself?
Sadly, taco delivery is not yet on the horizon.