Drone technology developed for military and intelligence purposes is making its way into the civilian market with the potential for creating thousands of jobs and boosting the economy, according to USA Today
The buzz about drones — or unmanned aerial vehicles — has gotten even louder since Jeff Bezos told 60 Minutes on Sunday that in the near future his Amazon.com would be using drones to deliver packages.
Proponents of the fledgling drone industry say that within a few years drones could pump $13 billion into the economy — and that the sky is the limit. They forecast more than 70,000 new jobs, over 30,000 in manufacturing, just over the horizon.
Within a decade drones could generate many more billions in economic growth and thousands more jobs, USA Today reported.
For now drones cannot be flown commercially in the United States, according to Federal Aviation Administration rules, but the agency expects to issue new guidelines by 2015.
Chris Anderson, who sells drones, said he expects the FAA to strictly control the use of advanced models, while smaller versions that operate over areas where there are few people would be less tightly regulated, according to USA Today.
USA Today reports that private individuals are already using drones for their work.
California real estate agent Manie Kohn switched from helicopters to drones for video shoots of for sale luxury properties. He has been trained by the manufacturer to fly them himself and even obtained $1 million in insurance coverage.
Drones are also being used on large farms to monitor crops and cattle and scrutinize water and fertilizer distribution.
Patrick Egan, a drone industry lobbyist says, "I walk down the street and see drone dollars everywhere. The potential is huge."
Venture capitalist Chris Dixon agrees. "There will be a whole economy around it, with entrepreneurs creating technology for specific types of customers. There are a number of obvious applications, and lots of less-obvious applications that we haven't even thought of yet."
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