Commercial Drones: Future Possibilities


This paper discusses the many benefits of commercial drones and their impending availability; as well as the accessibility, affordability, and privacy concerns. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval and governing regulations will also be covered. These regulations will be concerning the integration of drones into the private sector. In the public sector, drones have been around for several decades, aiding in war efforts. Because of this, the history of drones in the military is discussed, including the technological advancements in the predecessors (the Kettering Bug, the TDR-1, Predator RQ-1, and Predator MQ-1B).

Commercial drones can be used for any number of applications, including but not limited to: courier services; disaster response; emergency building search; medical/first aid delivery; videography/photography; mapping; and wild life surveillance. These many uses are just a glimpse into the vast future of possible uses. The use of drones, or unmanned aerial systems, can be the answer to the many disheartening conditions of the underdeveloped countries; drones can reach destinations otherwise difficult to get to with no roads or heavy congestion. In this thinking, it is easy to see why, despite the risks, drones are not only beneficial, they are needed. Drones are the answer to the future. If the internet was the catalyst to the information revolution; drones may be the catalyst to the resource delivery revolution.

Commercial Drones: Future Possibilities

The word “drones” may have a negative meaning for people who hear only of the large military and law enforcement drones. This paper, however, focuses on the small, commercial drones or “unmanned aerial systems” and attempts to explain in detail the benefits, showing that they outweigh the risks. A commercial drone can be the answer to the many disheartening conditions of the underdeveloped countries; drones can reach destinations otherwise difficult to get to with no roads or heavy congestion. In this thinking, it is easy to see why, despite the risks of invasion of privacy and some safety concerns, commercial drones are not only beneficial, they are needed.

Imagine this: A natural disaster occurs in your home town; a tornado ripped right through the homes on your street including your own; you are trapped in the cellar, but thankfully your cell phone works and you called for help; however, the rescue team cannot get to you until they can get a crane or earth mover to clear the debris; now, imagine you have a medical condition and need a life-saving dose of medicine right away; the rescue team can attach the medical box to the micro drone and navigate through the wreckage to deliver the critical medicine. The drone can then be used to look for others in need of help.

If the internet was the catalyst to the information revolution, drones may be the catalyst to the resource delivery revolution. But it is not just about minimizing the presence of delivery trucks; the possibilities for these micro autonomous drones are endless. The future is now and drones are a big part of the answer. Progress does not come from living in fear, rather from trying new things. In the same sense, success does not come without a number of failures and, fittingly, new inventions do not come without new regulations. Later the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations will be explained, including the controversial challenges and obstacles set forth by the FAA.

Historical Timeline and Predecessor Assessment

When discussing the history of the commercial drone, or unmanned aerial system, we ought to look at the technologies that preceded it. However, the history of commercial drones could just as easily be described as the integration of public drones to private drones. So, in order to look at the history of the commercial drones, we must first look at the history of military drones. The military has been developing drones for several decades, dating back as far as 1918 for creation and 1944 for actual wartime implementation. U.S. Air Force pilot and now Predator (military drone) squadron commander, Lawrence Spinetta explains that the development of drones has been in “short bursts” during times of war and sometimes sparked by “interservice rivalry” then long spans of time of “disinterest and occasional hostility” (2011, p. 30).

Unmanned aircraft was new and scary. Much of the hostility toward unmanned aerial systems came from within the military, as R. Cargill Hall tells the story, “Gen. Sweeney…. emphatically refused to participate in a reconnaissance program conducted with unmanned RPAs.…‘When the air staff assigns eighteen inch pilots to this command, I’ll reconsider the issue!’” (2014, p. 23). Ethics were in question—not to mention, the job security for pilots in the military. The long gaps of time in between the predecessors’ development, shown in the timeline below, are verification of Spinetta’s statement that interest is only peaked during times of war. The development of drones started with its predecessors the Kettering Bug, the TDR-1, Predator RQ-1, and Predator MQ-1B.

Commercial Drone Predecessor Timeline

Source: Commercial Drone Predecessor Timeline information from Spinetta, L. (2011). The rise of unmanned aircraft. Aviation History, 21(3), 30.

In 1918, the first practical UAS was developed, called the “Kettering Bug”. The Kettering Bug was named after its creator, Charles Kettering (Spinetta, 2011, p. 32). Kettering worked with the Orville brothers to create the first real unmanned aerial system—previous interpretations of drones involved ballooning, which can obviously be taken down easily. The 2011 article, The Rise of Unmanned Aircraft, described the early drone as a small plane with a 6 foot wingspan. The small craft could only carry a 250 pound payload and, interestingly enough, had a Ford two-stroke motor (Spinetta, p. 32). The Army ordered 75 Kettering Bugs to aid in World War I; however, the war ended before they could be used (Spinetta, 2011, p. 32), so the order was cancelled.

Radio-controlled TDR- 1 twin-engine drones were developed in 1944. After a long intermission of insouciance, World War II reignited the desire to develop attack drones. However, once more, the development was long and drawn out, making their debut late in the game. The Navy originally planned to have 18 squadrons with 1,000 unmanned aerial systems; instead the Navy ended up only instituting two drone squadrons (Spinetta, 2011, p. 33). Still, the drones that were created served their purpose during the war, bombing enemy territory. The TDR-1 drones were operated by radio-control, unlike its predecessor, the Kettering Bug, that was unable to be controlled during flight.

In 1994, the Predator RQ-1 was developed for reconnaissance. Spinetta explained the origin of the first Predator design as being derived from a “highly classified CIA drone”. The CIA drone had a code name of ‘Amber’ created by “Abraham Karem, a former chief designer for the Israeli Air Force” (2011, p. 36). Truly, the Army was the initial branch to acquire this technology from the CIA; however, after some tug-of-war, the U.S. Air Force successfully had the project transferred over to them. This first version had major limitations being solely a reconnaissance vehicle, with its most dangerous weapon being a camera. Reportedly, a Predator drone operator spotted Osama Bid Laden and couldn’t do anything but call in for back up and by the time they got there it was too late (Spinetta, 2011, p. 36 – 37).

The Predator MQ-1B was developed as a feature-packed, multifunctional drone in 2002, single-handedly opening the door to endless applications for this technology. This new Predator was developed to answer the problems of the first one, after having to miss out on taking down one of America’s largest enemies in history with the previous reconnaissance-only Predator. The Predator MQ-1B is equipped with features like Multi-Spectral Targeting System (MTS) and Remote Split Operations (RSOs) (Spinetta, 2011, p. 37). The Remote Split Operation feature is what allows the drone to fly all around the globe, with the “pilot” sitting safely in their office. This version of the military attack drone has gone “viral” in the media and has a lot of controversy surrounding it. Still, the technological advancement is nothing short of impressive and the commercial applications are seemingly endless.

With this technology now widely being developed in the private sector, it is no doubt the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is getting involved. Mildred V. Jones explains that on December 30, 2013 a statement was released by the FAA regarding the integration of drones “into the ‘largest, most complex air traffic systems in the world’ (FAAb, 2013, para. 1)” and mentions that the FAA allowed several sites in the United States to serve as the first official test centers for commercial drones (Jones, 2014, p. 31).

Laws and regulations often appear to be playing catch-up with all the new technologies. The same applies for the commercial drone and its predecessors, the Kettering Bug, the TDR-1, Predator RQ-1, and Predator MQ-1B. Smaller, commercial drones can already be purchased off the shelves of hobby shops around the country, yet only in the last few years has the regulation of private-use, commercial drones reached the top portion of the government’s priority list. The future is full of possibilities for commercial drone application and the FAA is scurrying to stay on top of that.

Analysis of Impact

Unmanned aerial systems are such an important emerging technology. The commercial use of these drones has a significant impact on the world as we know it. Possibly, the social impact is the greatest; assuming the integration of this technology takes off the way it has been predicted, it could change everyone’s lives. Despite the war-laden background for this technology, the future looks bright and supportive. Drones will positively affect society, culture, politics, economics, and the environment. In the following sections, these impacts will be discussed in great detail.

Social Impact
Given the history of drones, many in society not only dislike them, but fear them. The potential threat of drones is vast. Because many drones can carry a payload and travel out-of-site of the pilot, acts of terror would be relatively simple to complete. However, some small drones are already available for purchase, in a hobby store or even a toy store. An individual could buy one of these and modify them to carry and release a chemical or small explosive. The type of individual that would enact these terrible attacks is not the kind of person that is waiting to hear from the Federal Aviation Administration about the new regulations. Still, the fear is real and is just. So, the good must outweigh the risks with commercial drone operation.

Operating these unmanned aerial vehicles is not just for the enthusiast anymore. Commercial drones can be sold as aides for businesses and individuals. Equipped with high quality cameras, these drones can film events, inspect rooftop damage, deliver small packages, capture aerial footage for journalism, reality, or topography, and much more. The list of positive applications for commercial drone use is considerably lengthy. Webb notes that businesses in Switzerland and Germany have already used drones to send supplies to remote areas after a storm left the roads unsafe (2015). It’s no wonder why there is a high demand for making these drones accessible for the private sector.

Indeed, people may change over time by the convenience these tools provide (i.e., no longer having to put themselves in harm’s way to gather information and having option to have medication delivered to remote locations). Innovations, such as unmanned aerial systems, spur the human mind into further evolving problem-solving technologies and revel in the use of their new found capabilities. Of course, these changes—good and bad—can affect anyone, hence the FAA’s scurry to develop strict regulations. Interactions may change between people regarding privacy concerns, as drones can hover above someone’s home, making once private areas public (e.g., the backyard) (Choi-Fitzpatrick, p. 21).

Drone technology can touch many aspects of a person’s life. When considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, it is easy to come up with examples for nearly every category in the pyramid shown below. For example, drones can deliver food and water to isolated locations, answering the psychological needs of some inhabitants. On the next level of the pyramid, safety needs, drone technology can help workers in dangerous jobs (communications line workers, journalists, etc.) by doing much of the hazardous duties for them. Belongingness and esteem needs could be answered, simply by owning the latest technology, gaining recognition, and obtaining acceptance. Without a doubt, drone technology allows individuals to fulfill the cognitive need to learn and explore. Drones may even be able help with the aesthetic needs depending on how it is used (i.e., help with landscaping or infrastructure). Also, drones will, most certainly, help provide self-actualization by supporting business ventures, help problem-solve, and help individuals achieve their goals. Finally, drones can help achieve transcendence, or wholeness, by better enabling individuals to aide others in need.

Figure 1: Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Pyramid

Image of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from Ciccarelli, S.K., & White, J.N. (2013). Psychology: an exploration. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education.

While anti-drone groups have been formed all over the country, their message is mostly targeted toward the military’s armed drones in warfare. The main concerns over the small, unarmed commercial drones are of privacy and the possible modification of these drones to do harm. The FAA is hurrying to devise regulations to combat these risks. Choi-Fitzpatrick concurs, stating, “Innovation has completely outstripped legislation, and much of this innovation is by and for the public good” (2014, p. 31). As mentioned before, this technology may, indeed, affect society in regards to what is considered a public space and learning how to live with a potentially invasive technology flying about in the air at any given time. Anybody could be subject to surveillance, regardless of class, gender, or race. On the other hand, anyone can benefit from this technology as well. Of course, there is a pretty hefty price tag attached to these tools; so, wealth (or lack thereof) will play a role in who is likely to own and operate commercial drones; well-off businesses and the dominant group of society are more likely to be in the majority of drone-owners.

However, indirectly, the destitute and distressed individuals will benefit on the receiving end of these drones (i.e., delivery of life-saving supplies in times of emergencies). Also, society as a whole would benefit from the aerial photography for real estate and mapping, as well as, reconnaissance situations (searching forest fires and natural disaster wreckage for survivors). Another benefit to the added surveillance capability may be a drop in the local crime rate. In addition, neighborhood watch members could spend their time operating a drone from the safety of their home, rather than walking around at night. Society as a whole would benefit from the civil use of these drones.

Cultural Impact
The culture of commercial drone operation in the U.S. is one of positive beliefs and good intentions. The rules and regulations surrounding this technology are there to keep operators in line with the value to do no harm. Naturally, as the applications for commercial drones vary, so do the subcultures (those of art, business, health, search and rescue, and so on). So many countries have already embraced unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), as seen in Figure 2 below. With the innovation of this new technology came the innovation of new words including, drones, unmanned aerial system (UAS), small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS), unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and even remotely piloted aircraft or aerial systems (RPA or RPAs).

Figure 2: Countries with UAVs

Image of Countries with UAVs found in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Industrial Profile. (2014). Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – The Economic Case for Drones, 1.

Drones can be found throughout American culture. Artists would be able to use drones to aide photography, painting large murals or, as Choi-Fitzpatrick pointed out, drones could be used in cinematography and even graffiti (2014). Musicians could use the drone to film the audience or illuminate the dark room with swarms of small lights attached to multiple mini drones. Futuristic movies, like The Giver and The Hunger Games, portrayed the use of drones both large and small. Of course, the portrayal of drones in both of these movies was of a negative nature, because they are of a dystopian setting with excessive government control. The development of drones demonstrates human creativity. The early versions were monumental for the human race. Due to the long military history of drones Americans can find them in air and space and spy museums all over the country.

Political Impact
Popular dystopian theories of government control shows you the fears surrounding the political impact of surveillance technologies like a drone. Never the less, there is not only a demand for commercial drones but a very real need for them and it’d be in the government’s best interest to speed up the integration of the commercial drone. Lobbyists are persistently prodding the government to hurry up legalize drones, but it’s not that simple. Drones have many risks associated with them so all the rules and regulations need to be in place before they give the green light. The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed some strict regulations surrounding the use of commercial drones. The request to be able to operate drones out of the pilot’s line-of-site or above 400 feet is yet to be approved (“Small UAS Notice”, 2015).

The FAA’s decision is delaying the inevitable progression of this technology in the private sector in an effort to get their ducks in a row before the mass integration of these mini aircrafts into the U.S. airways. There are many businesses that stand to benefit from the use of commercial drones. Long time existing businesses, like Amazon, and new businesses in the drone industry are lobbying for government leniency. Currently, the FAA’s existing regulations are so strict that they are a hot topic of controversy among individuals and businesses; especially the very restricting “line-of-sight” rule. Not to mention, other countries have already managed to integrate them into their airway (Canada, the UK, Japan, and Australia) so the U.S. appears to be behind the times (Connor, 2015).

Economic Impact
With so many potential uses for this new, emerging technology, it is no secret that drones will have a significant impact on the economy. In 2014, two different scholarly articles predicted the economic impact for this technology to be around $82billion over the duration of 2015 – 2025 (Graves and “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”) (See Figure 3). Over the same 10 year span, the global economic impact is anticipated to be around $140bn (Graves, 2014). Obviously, the start of this economic growth has been delayed, due to the fact that the 2015 kick-off date was missed. No decision has been made from the FAA on how best to integrate these UAVs into the U.S. airways. Better safe than sorry on the FAA’s part, but many businesses are chomping at the bit to get the ball rolling. Unfortunately, some experts are predicting up to $10bn will be lost per delayed year (“Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, 2014.

Figure 3: Project Economic Impact from 2015 – 2025

Chart found in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Industrial Profile. (2014). Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – The Economic Case for Drones, 1.

Over 100,000 jobs are thought to be created because of this emergence of drones in the commercial sector (“Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, 2014). Many jobs will be directly related to the design, production, and maintenance of the product. Other jobs will be related to the marketing and selling of the UAVs. The subindustries impacted will be many, as the uses for this technology are seemingly endless. So many people will benefit from the implementation of this tool, assuming the consumers’ embrace them. In Table 1, you will see a list of applications compiled in the article, “Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – The Economic Case for Drones”.

Table 1: Commercial Uses for Drones

The list of commercial uses was found in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Industrial Profile. (2014). Unmanned Aerial Vehicles – The Economic Case for Drones, 1.

The chief players in the UAS industry are Amazon and Google. Google has been actively acquiring tech companies, giving the impression that they are planning to be a high roller in the commercial drone game. Amazon has been talking about “Amazon Prime Air” for a few years now. Both Google and Amazon have spent this time investing in research and development, as well as, lobbying tens of millions (each) with the government for the allowance of unmanned aerial systems in the U.S. airways among other things (“Lobbying Disclosure”, 2016). Amazon is set to rake in a huge share of the market delivering small packages to their customers.

Environmental Impact
Unmanned aerial vehicles have already proven to be a successful tool in agriculture, as they have been used for decades in Japan for this purpose (“Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, 2014). Of course, crop dusters may not like hearing this, but drones could be used to spray the same chemicals and survey the farm for overall health. It is possible that in just 5 years from now, annual sales of drones—a majority for agriculture use—could be up to 165,000 units (“Unmanned Aerial Vehicles”, 2014). The size of a drone is only a fraction of the size of a crop duster plane or helicopter, they cost less to purchase and maintain, and they use far less fuel.

The ability for the UAVs to fly high in the sky and capture footage can help in many ways. Drones can be used to monitor wildlife, global warming, and other environmental concerns. They can also fly over forests to detect small fires to prevent disasters and survey telecommunications lines, bridges, and hard-to-reach utility pipes. Choi-Fitzpatrick lists other environmental uses for drones including monitoring river erosion, volcano activity, and overall environmental change (2014). Drones can easily monitor endangered species and send back information about their migration patterns, as well as, whether poachers are present. Finally, drones can spot other illegal hunting, fishing, and most importantly human trafficking. This protects the species, the circle of life, and their habitats.
Swarms of drones entering the airways will be adding to the carbon footprint when the additions are not replacing other larger, manned aircraft. Not to mention, the manufacturing of these swarms of drones will be contributing to the carbon footprint of the UAS industry. Drone crashes may litter the environment with non-biodegradable material; however, this will likely only be the case once the line-of-sight regulation is lifted. Also, people may build privacy fences, walls, and other infrastructures to avoid unwanted surveillance. Never the less, there are far more environmental benefits than negative impacts of unmanned aerial systems. Drones used for agriculture are more accurate in their application and use less fuel than full sized crop duster planes. Lastly, drones used to monitor nature can help protect the species, the circle of life, and their habitats.

In summary, unmanned aerial systems have been in the lime light for over a decade now and many businesses and individuals in the commercial industry are raring to go. As shown in the history section, drones are not brand new anymore, but the capabilities have come a long way and the thought of them being available to the private sector are what is new. Needless to say, there are risks associated with introducing UAVs to millions of individuals and businesses in the U.S. Namely, the privacy issue and possibly of terror attacks are high on the list of concerns. However, the data has overwhelmingly shown that drones positively impact society, culture, politics, economics, and the environment.

Ethical Implications

Considering the ethical implications for commercial drones is not quite the same as military drones, where controversy is on the front page of the media. Still, controversy surrounds these small, civil UAVs. For instance, is it right for a drone operator to capture footage of unknowing bystanders? Is it right to put those in the vicinity of the unmanned aerial vehicle in danger? (Depending on the model of the drone, it could have large spinning blades—not something you would want colliding into you.) In the following sections, you will discover that the ethical implications of commercial drones revolve around privacy and safety issues.

Understandably, people are worried about their privacy. A drone operator could easily fly its drone around someone’s house, peering into their windows. They could mean harm or none at all, but, either way, it is an invasion of privacy, right? Privacy is not limited to an individual’s home; people all have a right to a reasonable amount of privacy outside of our home. If someone is flying along a public street capturing footage, is it an invasion of privacy for the pedestrians walking along the sidewalk or driving down the road? Or is it ok because they are in a public space?

Equally important, if drone usage takes off and the skies become crowded, there is a very real, potential danger for pedestrians. Think about it, if a drone malfunctions and crashes into someone or if more than one drone collide and plummet to the ground. Of course, it is not just endangering the pedestrians on the ground; potentially, a drone could crash into a commercial airline carrying hundreds of patrons. Is it right to endanger the public like that?

The Deontology theory was formed by Immanuel Kant and is rather “black and white” in its approach to right and wrong. The theory is based on universal rules, logic, and treating others as the “ends” not the “means” to get there (Baase, 2012, p. 29). In terms of commercial drones, if the deontology theory was used to set rules for commercial drone use, there could be a lot of ill consequences. Likely, if the drones were permitted to fly around neighborhoods, individuals would have to adjust their whole way of life to protect them from unwanted eyes. If drones were not permitted in neighborhoods, many businesses, such as realty photographers, roofers, and telecommunication inspectors, would lose out on this emerging, lucrative market. Meaning, good can come from the permitting of drones in neighborhoods, but the cut and dry nature of this theory would not protect others from those with ill intentions.

Additionally, if the deontology theory was used to determine the ethics of drones endangering citizens, it could have fatal consequences. The fatality could be of people or of the future drone industry all together. Because this approach is so black and white, the possibility of maiming or killing innocent bystanders by crashing into them could be the end of drone usage all together, before it even starts. For example, the decision-makers could choose to make commercial drones illegal, to avoid even the possibility of a severe injury or death. This would apply for people all over the country, no matter how little the population. On the other hand, if drone usage were allowed, then this means people in very populated towns and cities could fly drones with no consequences to them should anything happen. To give you an idea of how extreme this theory is, Baase gives an example about lying. Not lying is a universal rule, so even if it is a lie to protect someone from a murderer, it is still wrong to lie. So, Kant expects you to not protect the person and let them fall victim to a murderer. This theory is too black and white for a complex tool like a drone.

The Utilitarian theory was formed by John Stuart Mills and focuses on the greater good, yet recognizes the “grey areas” in decision making. The principle behind this theory is to increase the aggregate happiness, or “utility”, of the people (Baase, 2012, p. 30). Specifically, this paper is discussing rule utilitarianism, not act. In this theory, the ethical rules protect life, liberty, and property (Baase, 2012, p. 30). Applying utilitarian theory to commercial drones, means looking into what is best for the good of the whole people, weighing the risks.

In regards to privacy, according to Mills, there are times when that is respected and when it is not. Take, for example, journalists whose job is to represent the people and find out the truth behind matters. Drones can help journalists uncover crime and political scandals, for example, by flying into a dark alley where an illegal deal is being struck. If this were to be outlawed due to privacy concerns, that would go against the Utilitarian beliefs. Culver states, “Mills sees the breaking of promises as injustices though not absolute ones” (2014, p. 62). So, it is important to not outlaw all civilian surveillance. An instance where surveillance could be outlawed would be flying outside someone’s home for no purpose that benefits the good of others, like paparazzi outside of a celebrity’s home (Culver, 2014, p. 62).

When discussing the safety of commercial drones, under the influence of the utilitarian theory, it is clear that precautions need to be taken. Mills believes that people deserve to be treated good when they are good, but also that they deserve punishment when they are bad (Culver, 2014, p. 61). In the scenario of a drone crashing into innocent bystanders, this would be a severe injustice, as they did not do anything to warrant such mistreatment. Safety regulations are needed to avoid these situations. Market Watch provides an interactive map that provides details for the safety regulations and legislation in place by state (see Figure 4). The existing drone regulations are state level (as there are no federal regulations, as of yet) and are industry specific, but clearly focused on privacy, safety, and an interest in the greater good (see Table 2).

Figure 4: Map of Drone Legislation by State

Map of Drone Legislation by State found in the article by French, S. (2014). Are drones illegal in your state? This map can tell you. Retrieved June 4, 2016 from

Table 2: Existing Drone Regulations

Existing Drone Regulations by Choi-Fitzpatrick (2014). Drones for good: technological innovations, social movements, and the state. Journal of International Affairs, 68(1), 27.

In the end, the ethical implications for commercial drone use are mainly focused around privacy violation and safety concerns for those in the path of the unmanned aerial vehicle. Deontology, an ethical theory formed by Immanuel Kant, would be far too “black and white” for this complex technology as the applications and, therefore, ethical implications are still unclear. We do not yet know all the future uses for this technology and, therefore, need a flexible ethical theory to guide the regulators in deciding what is right and wrong. The utilitarian theory was formed by John Stuart Mills and focuses on the greater good. Although this theory is imperfect, it is strict enough, yet flexible enough to guide the commercial drone regulations. The principle would be to increase the collective happiness of a community with the use of the commercial drones.


In summary, the integration of these drones will impact many aspects of life: social, cultural, political, economic, and environmental. As shown in this paper, the impact of the drones will largely be a positive one. Of course, there are ethical implications for commercial drone use and they zero in on privacy violations and safety concerns. The term, “drone”, has a negative stigma around it based on their strong military background with predecessors like the Kettering Bug, the TDR-1, Predator RQ-1, and Predator MQ-1B. Never the less, a strong majority of people and businesses see the need for commercial drones. The FAA is quickly working to finalize policies and guidelines in order to allow drones in the private sector.

To reiterate, integrating commercial drones is not just about reducing the number of delivery trucks; the possibilities for these small, autonomous drones are endless. Commercial drones can be used for any number of applications, including but not limited to: courier services; disaster response; emergency building search; medical/first aid delivery; videography/ photography; mapping; and wild life surveillance. The future is now and these drones are a big part of it. It’s important to say again that progress does not come from living in fear, rather from trying new things and that success does not come without a number of failures. It’s time to try something new! There may be a few bumps along the way, but the community will learn from it and improve.

Unmanned aerial systems have been in the limelight for over a decade now and many businesses and individuals in the commercial industry are raring to go because they recognize that the benefits, most certainly, outweigh the risks. The FAA will finalize the policies and guidelines for implementing these small drones and only then will U.S. citizens really know the potential uses. If the restrictions are too tight—as in requiring pilots to keep the drones in line-of-sight—then, unfortunately, the uses will be limited. However, policies can be changed with enough demand and the government is already on board. Soon, the FAA will recognize that commercial drones are not only beneficial, they are needed.

Feedback from Peer Review
Sterling Hunt reviewed my paper and had a couple suggestions. Sterling noticed a typo in the date describing the first drone predecessor, where I inadvertently typed 1988 instead of 1918. I made that correction. Sterling also suggested adding more visuals of drones.



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