The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a series of proposals for the use and regulation of drones (i.e., Unmanned Aircrafy Systems (UAS)) for commercial purposes. In conjuction with these proposals, the White House released a memorandum that attempts to ensure the privacy of data obtained by drones. Note that it may take 2-3 years for these proposals to become final and they may face strong opposition from the civil rights community and also from commercial airline pilots, among other groups. Much of the discussion thus far has been on whether Amazon will be able to deliver packages via drones.
Yet, manufacturers and distributors should keep track of drones as things develop for several reasons:
- Diversification Into New Markets: If drones are able to be used widely in the commercial realm, the growth of the drone manufacturing industry may explode. If that occurs, component part manufacturers (particularly, those in aerospace markets) may benefit. As many of our clients look for ways to diversify, these developments are worth watching.
- Impact on Distribution: The use of drone technology could have a significant impact on the delivery of goods as exemplified in Amazon’s interest in the subject. In addition, there has been discussion about the use of drones within a warehouse.
- Surveillance: There have been a number of news stories over the last several years that have claimed that companies should be concerned about government agencies and other third parties who may use drone technology to “spy” on private property. We will continue to monitor the legal developments in this area, but needless to say, manufacturers and distributors should be aware that it is possible that drones could be used in ways that can be adverse to a company’s interests.