Early in the morning of Monday, January 26, a small recreational drone crashed onto the lawn of the White House. The media and security/military response was instant and, predictably, fraught.
In fact, it’s hard to think of an event that better illustrates the major issues – legal, technical, financial, policy- and behavior-related – that collide in the context of commercial drone use.
The awkward reality is that – outside of just under two hundred mostly large companies with official FAA exemptions – nearly every commercial application of UAV tech in the US is currently illegal. Early adopters, makers and entrepreneurs generally scoff at the practical implications of this, noting among other things the FAA’s lack of enforcement capabilities.
Still, the mismatch between a set-in-its ways federal agency and the huge operational benefits and cost advantages in deploying drones across multiple business lines looks a lot like a crisis in the making – especially since much of the most visible commercial-drone-related innovation is happening at the small-and-medium-sized business level.
FTI believes that there is a significant leadership opportunity for companies in this space to define a set of best practices that will not only serve to guide users, but establish a set of drone policy standards ahead of the FAA’s formulation of a regulatory environment – thus helping to inform and shape it. That conversation starts here.