Gretchen West of Hogan Lovells appeared on this week’s Drone Radio Show Podcast and provided a wealth of information on the state of the commercial drone industry. There were many discussion topics, and I encourage you to listen to the full interview, but if you’re strapped for time, here are three of what I considered to be the most interesting take-a-ways from our conversation:
- Adopting a Risk Base Approach to Commercial UAV Use – Many of the progressive foreign countries use a risk-based approach in determining which drones can fly where. This approach has led to a more rapid rate of commercialization of drone use. While the Section 333 process provided a way to get things moving in the United States, a move to a risk-based system would, not only boost commercialization, it eventually would be much simpler to administer and inform.
- Autonomous Flying – The innovation most likely to drive the future of the drone industry could be autonomous vehicles. These machines will be able to advance productivity and efficiency way beyond where we are at today. Think about the number of people it takes to operate a drone today (under the current regulations), and then think about what happens when UAVs become semi- or fully-autonomous. Autonomy offers the potential for some huge economic gains.
- A New Focus on the Users – Much of this early chapter of the commercialization story of UAVs has been dominated by the technology. So many new UAVs, software developments and ideas have been developed, discussed and marketed. While the technology has been exciting and innovative, large scale commercial users are still trying to decide how a drone program will benefit their company. The industry is at the point where the discussion is about to transition from the technology and what it can do, to the user and what they need. Once this discussion takes hold, get ready for a shift in the industry, as manufacturers scramble to meet those identified needs.
Again, the full interview can be heard here.