These days, it seems that drones can do just about everything. That includes providing security for high-profile events like the Boston Marathon; inspecting wind turbines, mines and crops; and even cleaning up oil spills—not to mention supplying breathtaking footage for everyone from real estate agents to Hollywood producers.
As technology improves and the uses for drones expand exponentially, businesses see big growth potential. Globally, the commercial market for drones is projected to boom, from an estimated $2 billion last year to as much as $127 billion by 2020, according to a recent report from Pricewaterhouse Coopers.
While forecasters see blue skies ahead, regulations could still slow businesses down. In August, the FAA released the first formal guidelines for commercial drone operators, a move that it estimated could add $82 billion to the U.S. economy over the next 10 years. Among other stipulations, the rules require drone operators to keep their devices within their line of sight, unless the FAA approves a waiver—a hurdle that many commercial operators are working to clear. Meanwhile, state and local governments are still coming up with their own regulations, providing some uncertainty for the market.
Here's a look at the business of drones around the country, from small-scale drone operations to major players like Microsoft.
Companies soar on the wings of drones
- Danvers drone maker will be eyes in the sky for Boston Marathon
- Connecticut drone operator takes off with two recent acquisitions
- ‘Drones as a service’ startup measures its success
- Lights, drone, action: Phoenix filmmakers reach for the sky
- Apium Swarm Robotics puts drone technology to work in the sea
- Nashville drone firm brings Southern charm to Hollywood
- Identified Technologies' drones save construction firms time, money
Sky's the limit for drone technology
- AI technology smartens up drones for commercial adoption
- Microsoft bets on autonomous drones to take flight
Zoom out for a regional view
- From oil rigs to construction sites, Texas embracing drone technology
- First in flight: North Carolina aims to lead the drone game
- Startups, universities bring drone technology to old-school industries
- Concerns hover around San Diego’s newly approved drone rules
For the consumer, drones are all about fun
- Open Works, Global Air Media put powers behind drone racing in Baltimore
- Colorado drone racers flying under the radar no more
- Philly drone store takes root as industry takes flight
- Drone Dome: Drone racing pilots must scrounge for a place to race
- All drones lead to Sacramento