Drones May Be Here to Stay. Here’s What They Mean for Our Future

Drone technology has grown tremendously over the years. Here’s how the industry is growing in the D.C. area

By Michelai Graham

WASHINGTON—When I think of drones, I think about all the fun possibilities of playing with them. Could I just have a drone follow me around all day? Wouldn’t a drone race be cool? How fast can they really go?

But drone usage goes far beyond playtime. Technologically speaking, a drone is an unmanned aircraft that can be remotely controlled or fly autonomously via internal software-based sensors and GPS. Drones are transforming commercial industries, being used in military operations, helping first responders locate damage and people during disasters and becoming a fun hobby for people in general.

(AUVSI) reports there will be more than 100,000 jobs in unmanned aircraft and drone technology by 2025.

The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) reported that there will be more than 100,000 jobs in unmanned aircraft and drone technology by 2025. The Arlington, Virginia-based association also reported that the drone industry will have an economic impact of more than $13.6 billion. Right now, Virginia is ranked in the top eight states predicted to see the most gains in terms of job creation and additional revenue form the drone technology industry, with California ranking as number one.

Drones and RoboticsGettyImages

Drone technology is being used all around the world in various industries from logistics to filmmaking, law enforcement, real estate and more. Here’s how the drone industry is growing in the D.C. area.

Drone Technology Advancements in DC

Last October, The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ruled that people can operate drones for commercial and government use if they weight 55 pounds or less. Some of the operating requirements include keeping your drone in sight, avoiding manned aircrafts, operating one drone at a time, and avoiding flying drones over people unless they are directly participating in an operation. Check out this fact sheet for FAA’s small unmanned aircraft systems regulations.

To even fly drones in the area, you must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate from the FAA. Drone pilots must be 16 years old, be in good physical and mental health, be able to understand English, and above all, pass the aeronautical knowledge exam. Maryland also offers some other drone schooling programs.

One of the most successful uses of drone technology in D.C. is how the Environmental Protection Agency is using it to manage livestock and survey crops. In the future, the agency is hoping to help farmers use drones to spray crops.

If you’re looking to fly your drone commercially in the D.C. area, Virginia and Maryland have drone lawns, which are designated airspaces for drone activity. Make sure you know where you can and can’t fly in the D.C. area airspace.

Whether using drones for aerial photography, surveillance, or mapping, there is a plethora of companies in the D.C. area advancing drone technology. Here are 10 drone companies one may want to know about.

It’s important to note that drone flight across the National Capital Region (NCR) is governed by a Special Flight Rules Area, which prohibits unmanned aircrafts from operating within 15 miles of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport without FAA authorization.


Michelai Graham is the Washington, D.C. Bureau Senior Editor for bdpatoday.

Michelai Graham is the Washington, D.C. Bureau Senior Editor for bdpatoday.

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