We recently gave a presentation at the Enterprise Center at Salem State University on the Future of Drones in Business. GraVoc’s Brian Gravel discussed how drones are being used today, drone safety, becoming FAA Exempt and of course what the future holds for Drones.

Drones Today

Drones today are being used from simple photography to search and rescue missions. People are finding different and unique ways to use these drones for their business. A popular example of unique drone operation is Amazon. Amazon has been teasing us with their Amazon Prime Air service for about two years now. They are hoping to make drones the future of delivery systems. Amazon Prime Air is designed to safely get packages to customers in 30 minutes or less using small unmanned aerial vehicles. Turning Prime Air into a reality will take some time however, mainly due to regulatory constraints, which brings up our next topic: Regulation.

Registering your Drone and the FAA Exemption

Many of the attendees at our event had questions regarding registering your drone and the FAA Exemption. You must register your drone or unmanned aircraft if it weighs between 0.55 lbs and up to 55 lbs regardless if you are using them for personal or commercial use. If you are a hobbyist and are using drones for personal use, you do not need to get approval from the FAA to fly your drone, you just simply need to register it. There is a $5 registration fee which registers you for 3 years. If you choose to test your luck and not register with the FAA you will be subject to civil or criminal penalties if caught.

You must register your drone or unmanned aircraft if it weighs between

0.55 lbs

55 lbs

regardless if you are using them for personal or commercial use.

If you are looking to sell your drone services, you will need to register your aircraft as well as gain an exemption from the FAA. There are 3 methods of gaining FAA approval. We petitioned for Exemption with a civil Certificate of Waiver of Authorization which granted us our 333 exemption. Currently, there are less than 6,000 companies in the United states who have been granted this 333 exemption.

Drone Safety

After your drone has been registered and the FAA has exempted you (if applicable) then you must adhere to their rules and regulations. You have to imagine if there were no rules to flying drones then they would be crashing into everything and each other. These rules are put in place to help regulate the airspace. Below we have outlined some of the guidelines to flying your drone as put out by the FAA:

Fly below 400 feet

Cannot fly over groups of people and stadium events

Keep away from emergency response efforts such as fires

Cannot fly near other aircrafts or airports

Drones in the Future


We believe automation could be the future of drones. This will leave control in the hands of the aircraft and technology rather than the human operator. A new drone technology that is using this automation is Lily. Lily is a drone that follows your every move. Lily uses GPS and computing vision to follow you around and record whatever you may be doing. Automated drones can either be really cool or really scary, I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

The use of drones are truly taking flight as more and more people and industries jump in on this new trend. We predict the drone market to only increase over the years which of course will need to be regulated and controlled.

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