Can drones break into the commercial market?

Drones have a wide range of potential civilian and scientific uses but so far they have been overwhelmingly used for military purposes such as reconnaissance and combat operations. Portolano Cavallo partner Yan Pecoraro discusses new regulations.

Technological developments as well as decreased operating costs will likely boost the use of unmanned aircraft systems for commercial purposes such as industrial/agricultural monitoring, video surveillance, commercial deliveries, while many further uses will be identified based on how and to what extent drone technology improves.

The opportunities presented by the drone industry have also attracted significant investment. According to data provided to Bloomberg News by PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association in November 2013, US venture investors poured USD40.9 million into drone-related startups in the first nine months of 2013, more than double the amount for all of 2012, and several EU countries are seen as potentially interested in backing an “European military drone program” which could be regarded as the first step in subsequent investments in R&D for commercial drones. The increased use of drones inevitably raises several issues from a legal perspective: privacy law, torts law, insurance law, civil aviation regulations and many other areas of law could be relevant to the operation of drones. The technology for drones is (almost) here, but government regulations around the world are not always up to speed. … (Read more)