This is an excerpt from a whitepaper created in partnership with AIG by Harvard Business Review. To read the paper in its entirety, please download the PDF below. 

By 2020, the FAA estimates about 542,500 small Unmanned Aircraft in the commercial fleet. Did you know, Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UASs) were used to provide security during the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil? 

Data collection and analysis are among the primary impact areas for UASs because they can quickly reach locations that are less accessible to human beings and share information in near-real time; UASs can be used to assist in the creation of risk assessment surveys and enable more rapid response to disasters.  

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For example, in 2015, Typhoon Goni hit Japan causing catastrophic damage; over 600,000 people were directly affected by the storm. AIG was able to rapidly deploy drone technology to assess properties affected by the storm, which allowed us to provide a fast and safe assessment of the damage. 

UASs are changing the way businesses think about their operations. Another example of how UASs are being used across industries is within the agriculture industry. UASs can help farmers track the quantity and activity of cattle, monitor crop health, maturity, and irrigation; and detect the spread of weeds. 

Barriers to Adoption

There are several barriers that need to be overcome in order for the U.S. economy to fully utilize the advantages of UASs:

  1. The first barrier to overcome is within the law enforcement industry.  Procedural hurdles could hold back the use of UASs, including having regulators keeping up with the rapid development of technology and adopting a “constructive, not confrontational” stance.  
  2. Manufacturers and operators must adapt as well. To generate the most benefit from UASs, users need to treat them not as add-ons to their existing information-gathering and delivery systems, but as integral to their operating model. 
  3. Ensuring the prevention of potential accidents and privacy violations. The Department of Homeland Security has logged over several incidents  in which rogue drones governed over “sensitive sites and critical installations,” including military bases and nuclear plants. 
  4. The final barrier that will need to be overcome to fully utilize UASs includes navigating the regulatory environment including the recent “Small UAS Rule” which implements rules around visual line-of-sight with the pilot, weight limitations for the UAS including cargo weight, and more.

However, it is clear that UASs’ economic presence is likely to grow as technology improves and the benefits become more and more evident. To learn more about UASs, and their benefits across a variety of industries, read this whitepaper developed in partnership with the Harvard Business Review