With so many technological advancements in the field of pilotless aircraft, UAVs (“Unmanned Aerial Vehicles” that are better known as drones) are poised to play a much larger part in the business model of a variety of different industries, as well as become common in our everyday lives. Over the next 10 years, Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) or drones are expected to create more than 100,000 jobs with an economic impact of $82 billion. Florida stands to benefit more than almost any other state as new regulations will bring 3,000 new jobs and $632 million in economic impact to the state by 2017, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. That’s a lot of opportunities.
Drone Jobs and Tech Industry Growth
So can we expect an aerial army of Amazon and Fedex drones within the next couple decades? Perhaps, but drones have the potential to transform the way many other companies do business as well, and not necessarily in all the ways you might expect. These sectors stand to reap just as many of the benefits of drone technology in the not so distant future:
- Delivery and Fulfillment: Thanks to Amazon’s efforts, the highest profile potential use for commercial drones is customer fulfillment. The possibilities are endless here; just about anything that can be carried by a delivery person can also be carried by a drone. This isn’t just limited to items we usually think of when we want something delivered to us, like pizza or Chinese food; drones could also bring groceries from the supermarket and prescription drugs from the pharmacy right to our doorstep.
- Logistics: In addition to delivery, they can also be used as a part of a larger logistics infrastructure, with larger, heavy-duty drones traveling between warehouses for inventory management. Not only could this speed up the warehousing process, but it could also free up our roads and highways from delivery trucks.
- Public Safety: Drones have the potential to complement or completely replace wall-mounted security cameras or even security guards. They could be especially useful in patrolling large commercial buildings such as factories, office parks, and power plants. On the law enforcement side, police could make use of security drones to supplement their presence at large public gatherings and events like sporting events and fairs.
- Journalism, Filmmaking, and Photography: Hobbyists are already using drones to take incredible aerial video and photographs. Professional filmmakers have used drones to film several of Hollywood’s blockbusters such as Skyfall, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Locally, a drone was used to film scenes from Dolphin Tale 2. The same principles would apply to journalists, who could use drones to capture footage they wouldn’t otherwise be able to obtain, such as in war zones or disaster areas.
- Aid Efforts and Disaster Recovery: Because drones can go places that humans can’t, they could be ideal for search and rescue operations and delivering much-needed relief supplies to remote locations or disaster areas. Fire departments could send a drone in to initially assess the damage from a chemical spill without putting lives at un-needed risk.
- Agriculture: The Environmental Protection Agency is already using drones to monitor and manage livestock farms, the technology that could easily be applied to commercial farms. Farmers could also use drones to spray for pests and diseases, analyze irrigation coverage, as well as deliver parts to their machines out in the fields without having to halt harvesting operations.
Upcoming Drone Training at SPC
Responding to growing interest in and the use of drones, the Workforce Institute at St. Petersburg College has partnered with the nation’s premier UAS Training and Certification Center to provide online courses and certifications. Additionally, the college has partnered with a local aviation group to provide Private Pilot Ground School training and certification courses. The Tampa Bay Times recently reported about drone training at SPC.
- An eight-hour Drone Overview class will be offered at the EpiCenter on Saturday, April 9 from 8:30 a.m. – 3 p.m
- The introductory course will be offered through the Workforce Institute’s Learn to Earn program and will include appropriate use, FAA airspace, weather topics, resources for drone operators, and the process to petition the FAA for a “Certificate of Waiver of Authorization” (COA) for commercial drone operators in low-risk, controlled environments
- For more information and to be included in this $69 daylong course, please call Fred Tucker at 727-791-2409