Austin, TX, June 09, 2014 - Picture this - unmanned aerial vehicles delivering pizzas to private homes, depositing pharmacy prescriptions and/or transporting books and tapes from a commercial online vendor to any location. People definitely find the convenience concept attractive. As a result, Americans are beginning to see a more positive side of drone technology.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), usually referred to as drones, may become common delivery vehicles in the not-too-distant future. In the competitive space where war is being waged between Amazon, UPS and established retail outlets, speed and efficiency are prevailing and Americans are beginning to find drone technology extremely interesting.
But perhaps the greatest marketplace for drone technology will be in public sector marketplaces. Governmental entities are considering drone technology for public safety, security on university campuses, research capabilities and more.
Still, in some quarters, drones are feared. The negative vibes are coming from people who think of drones that hover and collect information or data as being harbingers of "Big Brother." They fear an infringement of the privacy rights of Americans.
But, when the negative perception of drones is overcome, as most believe it will be, drone technology will likely become a multi-billion-dollar industry in the United States rather quickly. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to date has issued fewer than 400 permits for drones, but that number is expected to increase exponentially in the coming years.
Here's a strong indication of acceptance Ã‚- numerous states are currently considering drone legislation. They simply are not waiting for the federal government to move.
Texas is in the forefront of the trend toward commercialization of drone technology. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was selected by the FAA to be one of the sites in only six states chosen for testing of drones. A&M-Corpus Christi has been involved in drone research for a couple of years at its Lone Star Unmanned Aircraft Systems Center.
According to the Association of Unmanned Vehicles International, once American airspace is opened to the use of UAVs, the economic impact statewide is expected to be huge. Consider that in Texas there could be an $8 billion impact, including a $260 million impact in South Texas over the next decade. More than 1,200 new jobs would also be created.
Not all UAVs being used by the federal government carry weapons or belong to the military. Many drones are used for public safety or to manage a crisis situation. Some have been used for disaster surveillance and disaster relief.
America has more than 60 drone sites. And, counted in that number are half a dozen in Texas. The city of Arlington uses unmanned aircraft, or drones, for police operations. The Arlington Police Department's drone is a battery-powered, remote-controlled helicopter less than 50 feet long and it is "armed" with cameras.
In Oklahoma City, fire officials are studying the use of drones to battle wild fires, providing real-time video of the fire area and changing wind directions. That information can help firefighters survey an area, collect data and know that they will not be trapped by a changing wind pattern. Drones have been instrumental in saving lives of firefighters.
Researchers in Michigan are testing drone technology for mapping roads, identifying potholes and studying traffic patterns. A project of a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation called Unpaved Roads is working to help states monitor unpaved roads and predict when critical repairs are needed.
Aviation technology students at Purdue University are being taught how to operate and fly drones indoors. Purdue officials believe that training individuals is a huge marketplace of the future. The FAA plans to issue guidelines for drone operation for commercial purposes in 2015.
Off the Washington coast, environmental researchers are using drones to monitor marine wildlife. The uses of drone technology are extremely diverse.
Forest Service officials have used drones to spot fires and battle wildfires. Parks service employees can also use drones to find lost hikers. Public officials as well as environmentalists see drones as a vehicle that allows them to survey areas after natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes.
With adequate, but not suppressive regulation, the use of drones by the government sector will be successful. The trick will be to balance the technology with privacy issues. This can definitely be done as drone technology is too large an economic driver to be stifled by misinformation and unwarranted fear. Companies in the drone technology space must consider working side by side with the public sector to ensure that education and success stories reach citizens to remove fear and promote public support.
Technology and infrastructure leaders in this emerging new drone market interested in reaching American officials and obtaining additional examples of current projects can find more information at http://bit.ly/1kZa3fy
About the Company
Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI) is a full-service government affairs and procurement consulting firm. SPI teams work with clients to identify upcoming opportunities and capture new business. SPI is recognized as a pioneer in the business of partnering public and private entities for commercial purposes. For more information contact Anna Scott, Corporate/External Relations, at 512-531-3919 and/or visit http://bit.ly/1kZa3fy
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