Officially known as unmanned aerial vehicles or unmanned aerial systems, drones are now mainstream. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), who enforces federal drone laws, forecasts rapid growth in the commercial drone industry. New, non-recreational drone registrations are expected to exceed 800k in 2023. Businesses are using drones to augment business logistics, reduce shipping costs, automate certain business operations, increase customer satisfaction and advance socially beneficial ventures. As drone uses are expanding, drone operators, especially in commercial applications, must be aware of drone flying laws.
As legislators struggle to keep up with evolving drone uses, drone laws around the U.S. remain tough to navigate. In addition to the FAA's Part 107 drone regulation, many state and local municipalities have enacted measures that mean any business with multiple locations should be conscious of varying laws. Currently, state laws alone cover a range of considerations, including regulation on:
Some of these rules may not always apply. Businesses may be exempt or may qualify for a waiver from one or more of these legal requirements. Therefore, business owners should seek expert advice before, during and after incorporating drone technology in their business operations.
According to the FAA, top industries for commercial drone use include education, agriculture and construction. However, investment and research and development in healthcare, manufacturing and in retail industries are expanding.
Drones are mapping and measuring buildings, taking and transmitting photographs, generating readings of geographies, delivering medicines and otherwise performing tasks that create, process and distribute data of wide variety – including highly sensitive data. When implementing drone usage, whether by contract or in-house, businesses must consider the implications around data management and how to balance the rewards of drone use with the responsibility for the data drones generate and utilize.
Drone technology is expected to flourish across industries. Businesses should monitor and explore the trends of drone applications in their industries. While keeping an eye on drone market trends, companies should have legal experts on their team to navigate the legal drone landscape and assess proper data management protocols for drone data.
Have questions? Our team at Beckage is uniquely positioned to advise on emerging technology and privacy laws at both the state and national level. Contact us today for a consultation.
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