The New Emerging Drone Industry – Will Regulations Keep It from Getting Off the Ground?

Drones are Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).  They are simply robots that fly and can perform any number of productive tasks such as taking photographs or videos of homes and commercial properties for real estate agents.  Other potential uses include monitoring farm lands and crops, overseeing drilling sites, and tracking construction projects.  Drones can also be used to deliver emergency supplies in hard to reach locations.

Amazon, the Internet retailer, is spending R&D dollars attempting to commercialize drones to deliver packages to consumers faster, cheaper, and more efficiently than through traditional package delivery systems based on truck delivery services.  It might seem hard to believe at first, but Amazon might be able to deliver packages to customers in as little as 30 minutes, after an order is placed, with drones!

Some estimates place the commercial value of the use of the new drone technology at over $10B over the next decade.  That might be a very conservative estimate too, since the technology can  be used in so many different ways.  Plus, just think about spin-off technologies and their values.  For example, new drone-ready GPS technology will likely be used, resulting in additional revenues and profits.

Despite all of that potential, Amazon has set up its drone R&D in Cambridge, England.  Google also has an interest in drone technology.  It’s doing its work in Australia.  Why not in America?

A whole new billion dollar industry?  New jobs?  New innovation?  A boost for GDP?  Better services for consumers?  Cool technology, right?  American ingenuity at work building 21st century America?  But, why not do the R&D in America?

Progress and innovation are being unnecessarily thwarted by who else, big government.  While the drone industry is taking off in other countries, the Federal Aviation Administration is dragging its feet in the U.S..  The FAA is contending that the commercial use of drones in the U.S. with a few exceptions (such as for movie and TV productions) is illegal.  It even fined one person $10,000 for flying a drone over the University of Virginia to obtain promotional video footage.  (Note that an administrative law judge has since overturned the fine and said the FAA could not legally enforce its ban on commercial drones.)

According to The Wall Street Journal, the GAO (Government Accountability Office) reported that the FAA might not have its drone rules in place before 2017.  Drone technology is working in other countries.  Why force American companies to invest R&D dollars elsewhere in the world?  Why prevent America from obtaining the benefits associated with new, innovative technology?  Why restrain our economy?  Some say that there are safety concerns.  But, safety rules can be developed on a faster timeline.

For more information on burdensome regulations and the Freedom of Regulatory Restraint, please read my new book Renewing America and Its Heritage of Freedom: What Freedom-Loving Americans Can Do to Help.

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