According to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, commercial drones will be “as common as seeing a mail truck,” even if that day is years away. Recently, Amazon expressed its desire for airspace designated for the use of commercial drones, a request that must eventually become a reality if regulators are to take the industry seriously.
Even though large corporations like Amazon are having trouble getting cooperation from the FAA, the same cannot be said of small business owners. So far, hundreds have applied for and received over 1,000 permits allowing them to operate commercial drones within the US. The FAA currently approves about 50 per week.
Meanwhile, Google is taking advantage of its unique relationship with NASA in order to bypass the same regulations that prohibit other companies from testing or using commercial drones. The company has obtained a 333 exemption by flying its drones over private land owned by NASA, and has been doing so for about a year.
But does it even matter?
Will the US really adopt commercial drones?
To those who believe that commercial drones are a fantasy, consider this: in other countries, commercial drones are already a reality. Regulators elsewhere provided much more relaxed guidelines for the unmanned aircraft, and Amazon and Google are taking advantage by testing their drones in these countries.
Just because another country takes advantage of the time and price advantage of drones, that doesn’t mean that the United States will–right? Think about it this way. If most countries adopted the automobile, and a few others decided that it was too much trouble for them, instead continuing to use the old horse and carriage model, would the latter countries have an economically tenable future?….
The answer is, of course, no. It doesn’t take a lot of logic to understand that adopting drones is the only way forward, and it will happen one way or another. How long should our own policymakers be allowed to drag their feet while the rest of the world adopts a technology with such enormous economic implications? Time is money, and we’re wasting a lot of it.