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Drone business takes off in Washington

Drone business takes off in Washington
By Stefan Grobe
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What has created an enormous “buzz” in Washington but has nothing to do with the White House?

The industry wants to grow. There is potential here, it’s a billion-dollar industry, it's going to be even more, it's here to stay.

The answer you’re no doubt scratching your head over is commercial drones; unmanned aerial vehicles or UAVs to those in the know.

Now with trade and traffic taking off the ground, the city’s played host for the first time to the National Drone Show as people look for more ways to use the flying objects.

Matthew Creger from IntelligentUAS said custom products are also on the up: “We go and make custom solutions for DJI (=drone manufacturer) products. This is going to be great for search & rescue, solar panel inspection, agriculture. And so we have a lot of clients coming in right now.”

What has been a hobby of some fun-loving camera enthusiasts is fast becoming very big business with newer models aimed at average consumers and professionals.

Brian Grant from Yumeec Electric Aviation said: “Our new flagship model, the Tornado H9-20, is going to be our prosumer (= professional & consumer) model, this is going to fly for over 30 minutes, payload up to five pounds, range of over a mile if you really need it… it’s very simple, just get-out-of-the box, charge the batteries and deploy.”

With the global commercial market size is expected to reach at much as two billion euros* by 2022 manufacturers are quite optimistic for the future.

“The industry wants to grow. There is potential here, it’s a billion-dollar industry, it’s going to be even more, it’s here to stay. You have got the Amazons that really want to use it, the Googles,” added Grant.

Every industrialised country in the world is making investments in drones and that in turn is driving technological developments as well as commercial and industrial applications. In some sectors, such as search and rescue, to reduce risk, drones are increasingly being seen as a viable alternative.

Military applications easily dominate the market but other activities are catching up. One sector that will see a boom in the use of drones, according to experts, is law enforcement.

Bob Blakley from Fairfax County police department believes drones will be used more because they can be safer.

“In Fairfax County we have two helicopters and they are very expensive to operate. Unmanned drones would allow us to deploy aerial overview very quickly and that could probably resolve a lot of situations in a safer manner and in a more timely manner.”

At The Drone Show in Washington, visitors could find drones for around 2,000 euros, while more sophisticated models cost between 15,000 and 30,000 euros.

However, euronews US correspondent Stefan Grobe warns before you get out your credit card you should know there’s considerable regulation to be aware of before you take off.

“In the US, there are half a million drones expected to be purchased in this year’s holiday season. But fans may not have a long-term fun with their Christmas presents. The US Federal Aviation Administration has just announced that there will be tough regulations to ensure the safety of the airspace soon,” said Grobe.

*Ed – according to a new study by Grand View Research, a California-based market research company.