Drone Driven to Requirements Driven
What was once perceptible is now palpable. True, industrial Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) end users are beginning to demand more from the “air” portion of the UAS. Industrial use-case differences in concepts of operations, operating environments and divergent data needs are creating a better environment for custom drone solutions. Users are recognizing that both the drone and the data flowing from it can be organizational force multipliers. However, this information is not always actionable or available to service providers or industrial end users purchasing drones from well-established concerns. Look for drone design to look like a “demand pull” from the end users rather than a “command push” from drone manufacturers.
Market Gaps to Economic Viability
Thanks to Part 107 industry is compiling a law of large numbers with respect to unmet needs throughout the UAS – with an emphasis here on the word system. The UAS is only as strong as its weakest link, and growing use cases point specifically to the camera as an avenue toward greater efficiency. That same law of large numbers will begin to enable economies of scale for miniaturized EO/IR and full-motion video systems better tailored toward Groups 1-2 UAVs at less than 55 lbs. Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW).
Growing into and beyond Part 107
What’s next is already here, as discussions around the Part 107 waiver process are well underway. If a commercial concern has a CONOPS that deviates from Part 107 it is incumbent upon that organization to present a well-defended safety case and mitigations to FAA for the quickest waiver possible. There are varying levels of optimism with regard Part 107 waiver timing, but this process will continue apace, likely resulting in another Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) leading to a codification of commercial drone use above and beyond Part 107.