Commercial drones are shaping and changing many industries around the world and the commercial drone space is rapidly growing, but there are still many challenges to overcome and gaps in the ecosystem to enable drones to be used at scale for jobs that were previously too dangerous, costly or difficult, and applications yet to be imagined. The Commercial Drone Fund was established to support businesses that are developing technologies and services that are critical to scaling the use of commercial drones across a variety of applications.
Last year, Yuneec announced an SDK for its six-rotor commercial UAV, the H520. That drone has thermal capabilities as well, but that developer's kit was strictly software-based, unlike DJI's, which integrates third-party hardware. If other drone companies want to catch up to DJI, they have a lot of ground to make up. Reports put the company's total market share in North America at 50 percent, which includes the sub-$500 drone segment in which smaller, toy-like crafts do huge volume. DJI also just signed a deal with Japanese construction firm Komatsu to create a fleet of drones running a custom machine-learning software.
Last year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released its requirements for flying drones that weigh under 55 pounds. The rules state that the pilot must keep the drone in sight at all times, not exceed 100 miles per hour, and operate the drone only during daylight hours. Pilots must also report accidents that result in an injury. While the list of rules for operating a drone is long and detailed (read the whole thing here), the requirements for becoming a drone pilot are relatively simple. You need to be at least 16 years old.
The fast-growing global drone industry has not sat back waiting for government policy to be hammered out before pouring investment and effort into opening up this all-new hardware and computing market. A growing ecosystem of drone software and hardware vendors is already catering to a long list of clients in agriculture, land management, energy, and construction. Many of the vendors are smallish private companies and startups -- although large defense-focused companies and industrial conglomerates are beginning to invest in drone technology, too. In a report from BI Intelligence, we take a deep dive into the various levels of the growing global industry for commercial drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This 32-page report provides forecasts for the business opportunity in commercial drone technology, looks at advances and persistent barriers, highlights the top business-to-business markets in terms of applications and end users, and provides an exclusive list of dozens of notable companies already active in the space.
There will be 600,000 commercial drone aircraft operating in the U.S. within the year as the result of new safety rules that opened the skies to them on Monday, according to a Federal Aviation Administration estimate. The rules governing the operation of small commercial drones were designed to protect safety without stifling innovation, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told a news conference. Commercial operators initially complained that the new rules would be too rigid. FILE - In this May 21, 2015 file photo, Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta, speaks during a news conference at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J. Federal aviation officials estimate there will be 600,000 commercial drone aircraft operating in the U.S. within the year as the result of new safety rules that went into effect on Monday, Aug. 29, 2016.