Profiting from Commercial U.S. Drones

So you’re heating up a nice bag of popcorn and getting ready to sit down for a movie with the family. You hear buzzing noises outside of your home. You step outside to find a creepy spider-like drone hovering over your house, with a camera fixed on you and your family.

Before you know it, the thing scurries off to harass your next door neighbor.

drone picAs unlikely as that scenario seems currently, it is an all too real possibility over the next few decades.

2015 will be the year in which full FAA regulations will be set in place for domestic drone use.

But two drones have already been approved by the FAA to patrol the Alaskan coast. The Insitu Scan Eagle 200 will be used to keep watch over marine life and icebergs, while the AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) PUMA will patrol oil spills in the Beaufort Sea.

These drones have benevolent intentions, but in the words of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, speaking of the military industrial complex, “The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists.”

This is especially true of drones.

The FAA estimates there could be as many as 30,000 drones in American skies by 2020.

Drone usage in the commercial sector can benefit the public, but it also creates an atmosphere of distrust and potential violations of privacy and property rights. Civilian control of drones is not yet being considered, but commercial approval only yields a slippery slope to the eventual selling of drones to civilians. And those civilians may not always have noble intentions.

We’re beginning to see the seedlings of opposition to domestic drones. Deer Trail is a small town in Colorado that passed an ordinance in issuing licenses and bounty rewards for hunters who shoot down UAVs. While the town recognizes federal laws, it is a feel-good piece of legislation that sends a signal that drone activity is not welcome in the town of Deer Trail. And it shows how impassioned many people are about drones hovering over them in public.

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