The FAA has predicted a huge rise in drone sales over the next five years, in both the commercial and hobbyist sectors.
In a report released last week, the legislative body predicted that annual sales of hobbyist and commercial drones will more than double by 2020. As many as 1.9 million non-commercial drones are expected to be sold in the US this year, with only around 600,000 drone sales predicted for industry. These numbers, especially on the commercial side, are expected to take off as legislation is clarified and consumers gain more confidence.
The FAA forecasts that by 2020 there will be 4.3 million annual sales in the enthusiast sector, with 2.7 million drone sales for commercial purposes.
The inevitable rise of commercial use
It's fair to say that the FAA haven't exactly nurtured the growing commercial drone industry as of yet. While regulations were brought in before Christmas regarding hobbyist drones, commercial users still need to obtain a Section 333 exemption if they want to fly for business purposes. This is costly, both in terms of time and money. Having said that, a ruling is expected in the spring that will (hopefully) make flying drones for commercial purposes in the US a whole lot easier.
This ruling should open the door to a flood of until-now hesitant drone adopters. The FAA states that over 4,000 exemptions have already been granted in the US, with drones already being put to work in industries ranging from agriculture to maintenance and inspection. New rules could also bring a whole lot closer the notion of automated drone delivery services currently under development by the likes of Amazon and Google.
The need for smarter software
The inevitable rise of drones, both in the commercial and hobbyist sectors, means that the demand for smart software is only going to increase. As well as making drones more autonomous and safety conscious, clever software is needed to make the most of the mass of data that they are able to gather.