Drones—the gravity-defying toy every grown man wants—are becoming more popular and more affordable every day. You probably know at least one person who owns a drone, and according to a report released earlier this year by the Federal Aviation Administration, that number is only going to increase. In fact, the FAA is predicting as many as seven million commercial and hobbyist drones will be flying through the sky by 2020.
To give you an idea of just how crowded the skies could get, Edward Lawrence, the director of the FAA’s drone office, said that more than 550,000 unmanned aircrafts have been registered since December 2015 when the FAA launched its drone registration system. And registration is only picking up speed. He recently reported the drone registration rate at about 2,000 per day!
So what the heck are all of these drones going to be doing while they’re flying around? The commercial drones will most likely be used for aerial photography, industrial inspection, agriculture, real estate, insurance, and government. I suppose we should all start thinking about receiving speeding tickets in our mailbox because everywhere you drive, drones are watching you!
That’s the potential downside. On a brighter note, the growing popularity and prevalence of drones means there are new jobs becoming available (we all know how important that is.) If you’ve always wanted to be a drone pilot or are looking to make a career switch, check out DroneStart, where you can get FAA certification as a drone pilot.
The demand for pilots is real. According to the FAA report, there were about 600,000 registered pilots at the end of 2015, and their prediction is for upwards of 1.3 million licensed drone pilots by 2020.
All this new information might scare a lot of people, but no need to fear! The government is working on creating regulations that will probably be so restrictive and complicated that the majority of hobbyists will just throw up their hands and find another pastime that hasn’t been ruined by rules. That should help cut down on about a third of the drones out there.
On the commercial side of things, the FAA and NASA are working together to create low-altitude air traffic control systems just for drones. Air traffic regulations could be really important in the next few years, especially if Amazon drone deliveries become more widespread. And Amazon’s not the only company looking into drone deliveries. Google is currently partnering with Chipotle Mexican Restaurant at Virginia Tech, testing drone deliveries of burritos to hungry students.
So by 2020 there will be 7 million drones in the sky, and no one will ever be hungry for a burrito again. Sounds super strange, but we’re in!