How can commercial drones boost the economy?

Jun 19, 2014

Credit Wikimedia Commons

The word “drone” holds some negative connotations. However, some believe that commercial drones could help boost the economy. Aaron Cook, director of aviation at Northwestern Michigan College, is one of those people. He joined us today on Stateside.

Cook says when people understand what drones are, what they are not, and what they can do, they will realize the many business opportunities and safety opportunities these drones can provide. They could possibly improve the quality of life and increase productivity.

So what is a drone?

It’s basically a flying robot. It is an aircraft that does not need a human on board, but is controlled by people on the ground using GPS communication technology.

Cook emphasized that drones are not armed, specifically ones flying over U.S. soil, and are not intended to be used to invade citizens' privacy.

They are only meant for commercial use. BP was just approved by the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones in Alaska to monitor pipelines, roads, and equipment. Cook said drones can be used for similar options here in Michigan.

Drones could be used in agriculture to monitor crops, to determine the need for fertilizer, water or weeding.  

Cook also says drones could  help monitor some of the nation's 800,000 roads and bridges without sending crews or disrupting traffic.  

The FAA released a report predicting that drones would create 100,000 jobs and be worth $82 billion. In Michigan alone, it could open 1,000 jobs and be worth $88 million.

As we consider the possibilities of commercial drones the question arises, what are the regulations for commercial drones?

*Listen to full story above. 

–Bre'Anna Tinsley, Michigan Radio Newsroom.