Will Commercial Drones Invade Our Skies?

Quadcopters, UAV’s, sUAS’s and RPA’s or Drones as they are commonly referred to are certainly here to stay. With the recent announcement of the DJI Phantom 3 it’s certainly going to be a fast growing business in the coming years.

“The FAA currently estimates as many as 7,500 small commercial UAS may be in use by 2018, assuming the necessary regulations are in place. The number may be updated when the agency publishes the proposed rule on small UAS later this year. – FAA

It’s an interesting question we have to ask ourselves. Will the air be filled with humming aerial machines like the Phantom 3 or are we simply over reacting the projected FAA predictions?

dji drone phantom 3

Initially the number of commercial drones quoted around the internet was 30,000 by 2030, but this number was simply a myth according to the Federal Aviation Administration. So, what should we believe?

Having followed many of the drone articles released in the last year (with an ultimate F Stop Lounge drone guide coming soon) and seen where the industry is headed, I’m pretty sceptical of the new projected number.  7,500 commercial drones flying in the US by 2018 seems a little sort sighted to me.

Lets take ourselves back to 2013 when the Bureau of Labor Statistics released statistics about how many professional photographers were making a living from their craft. The number quoted was approximately 54,830 professional photographers. Fast forward to 2015 and I imagine this number would be far higher as prices for cameras have become far more affordable and a photography drone business seems much more viable than before. Even if we keep the same number of professional photographers from 2013 (54,830) and apply it to years 2014 and 2015, the FAA projected numbers of commercial drones in use by 2018 (7,500 commercial drones) simply doesn’t add up in my head.

Let me explain further, Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics (a company that manufactures their own drones) has been quoted saying an estimated 500,000 drones have been sold in the US in 2014. Now, I know this number is estimated, but when you think about it the number of commercial photographers the FAA is projecting somehow doesn’t match up as a percentage for the number of estimated drones sold. Would you agree?

Now I’m sure the FAA has put a lot of research into the numbers and licences they’ve handed out, but for me and my own experience in the imaging industry I predict this number will be far greater than 7,500 by 2018. I saw the same rise in the imaging industry when it came to digital cameras so let me explain some of my reasoning:

  1. In the next three years (2018) we will see a surge of photographers offering video as an extension of their business and when you think about it the majority of them will want a drone, most likely a DJI Phantom 3 or something similar.
  2. Aerial photography will increase as the property market increases. Drones provide the perfect photography platform for aerial shots.
  3. As the price of drones become more affordable, professional photographers will jump on board. After initially flying them as a hobby many will turn their new found passion into a business.

Based on these three thoughts I’m positive by 2018 we will see more than 7,500 commercial drones in the sky, what do you think?

Social Media Specialist > Blogger > Entrepreneur > Photographer > Marketer > Views and opinions are my own.

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