Drones just might be the wave of the future. Investors have been putting more money into drones recently. The figure has reached into the billion-dollar mark. Over three quarters into the year and $1.2 billion has been invested into drones so far in 2017.
John Frankel, a founder of FFVC—a drone investor based in New York—talked about the shift in the use for drones. Frankel said drones are used by more than just hobbyists.
“In the past several years, the drone space has crossed the threshold from being driven by hobbyists and experimentalists to being largely enterprise dominated,” Frankel said. Frankel invested in the past in drone companies, including Top Flight Technologies and Skycatch—a company that uses drones for mapping purposes while working with construction and mining companies.
Because of the widespread use of drones, job opportunities have been created. It is estimated there have been about 400,000 jobs made from the use of drones.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) made a new commercial pilot license for drone operators in 2016. The program only requires $150 and consists of a 70-question multiple choice test. Within three months, the number of drone operators skyrocketed. Approximately 300 new operators emerged every week day. Around 79 percent of the operators were passed; close to 28,000 people took the test.
Brian Streem, who is a Inc. 30 Under 30 honoree, commented on job opportunities in the drone industry. “The drone industry is a great place to find a job,” Streem said.
Universities have been in on drone technology too. Universities such as the University of South Dakota are adding drone curriculum in their school. Byron Noel, a drone instructor, said, “It’s useful in any field where an aerial perspective is useful.”
Michael Chasen, founders of Blackboard and the CEO of Precision Hawk, is pushing for regulations to be relaxed even more. He said regulations are “limiting what drone technology can do.”
Big corporations have been getting in on the drone frenzy as well. Both Amazon and Walmart have applied for drone patents and have explored the possibility of drones making deliveries.
In addition, other corporations have been investing in drones. In 2017 both Intel and Boeing bought two drones companies. Intel purchased MaVinci and Boeing acquired Liquid Robotics. Verizon got Skyward, and Snap purchased Ctrl Me Robotic.
Streem pointed out that manual labor is required when using drones. “A lot of people underestimate the complexities of actually pulling off a drone operation because of the ‘unfun’ stuff [like] charging batteries, performing flight maintenance, checking airspace. Automation only gets us so far. There is still manual work to do,” Streem said.
Drone trends are expected to increase in the future. The FAA said they expect the number of commercial drones to go from 442,000 to 1.6 million in just a couple of more years. Each couple of drones acquired equate to at least one new job requiring an operator to deploy and maintain the drone. This could create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the upcoming years.