Soaring popularity of drones gives local company wings

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A federal judge last week dismissed the Federal Aviation Administration’s only fine levied against a drone operator. The decision calls into question just how much oversight the FAA has on these popular devices.

Interrupting the peace and quiet in Liberty Hill, the air is abuzz at drone supplier UAV Direct – and technology manager Eric Davis’ potential customer list is growing.

Eric Davis and his drone“Independent filmmaking, real estate photography, as well as agricultural and industrial purposes,” Davis said.

These remote-controlled drones with movable cameras, GPS sensors, and live video feeds are sparking a new generation of entrepreneurs.

But as of now, their wings are clipped.

“The FAA currently mandates that the usage of these aircraft for commercial purposes is not legal,” Davis said. Meaning that anyone can fly them, but it is illegal to make money off of them.

As for the proposal by Amazon to deliver packages by drone?

“That’s going to be a ways off,” Davis said. “There are a lot of hurdles that have to be overcome. There are a lot of safety precautions that will have to be put in place.”

Commercialized or not, as the popularity of drones increases, the future for Davis looks bright.

“We can’t wait,” he said. “The floodgates are going to open.”

FAA regulations permitting more widespread applications of these small drones are expected to be proposed in November.

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