Five Reasons to Be Excited About the Future of Drones

Swanka Burnette
Business Development Manager


Recently, Loudoun Economic Development hosted workshops and expert panels to support and attract companies that manufacture or specialize in the use of unmanned aircraft (colloquially known as drones). There’s an application for drones in almost every industry in America, with more on the way.

Here are five reasons for business leaders to be excited about the future of drones and the unmanned vehicles industry:

1. Commerce

The 2019 budget for the US Department of Transportation includes $73 million to develop standards for the safe operation of unmanned aircraft systems. Transportation via drone is a very real and near-term technology. It represents a paradigm shift in how we ship packages, and eventually, people. Uber, for example, is exploring vertical takeoff and landing unmanned aircraft similar in design to mini-helicopters. These VTOL aircraft would address the millions of hours wasted daily to unwieldy commutes in cities such as San Francisco and Mumbai.

2. Getting Defensive

The FAA’s UAS registry recently logged one million users. Most of the drones now in use are capable of capturing high-quality images and video, introducing serious security concerns. Criminals are using drones to smuggle drugs, cell phones and even weapons into prisons. The counter-drone technology industry has gained momentum in response. Companies like Loudoun’s own Dedrone specialize in detecting, classifying and mitigating drone threats.

3. Changes to the National Air Space

The FAA is aware of the impact drones will have on the national air space, and monies are set aside in the DOT budget to implement new systems such as Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability. LAANC is the first UAS tool to deliver drone information to air traffic control, and the first step in developing an Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management System.

4. Opportunity

In a 2016 report, Goldman Sachs estimated that drone technologies will reach a market size of $100 billion between 2016 and 2020. The commercial side represents the fastest UAS growth opportunity (followed by military) with an estimated market size of $13 billion between 2016 and 2020.

Drones might become part of daily operations across industries such as insurance, agriculture, law enforcement, transportation and construction.

In late 2017 a 92-year-old hunter lost in the woods of Shenandoah County was located with the help of a Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office drone – a remarkable example of a drone positively impacting public safety.

5. What’s Next

According to the DOT FY19 budget presented in February 2018, “This administration is committed to fostering innovation by lifting regulatory barriers to entry and enabling innovative and exciting new uses of transportation technology.”

This is positive news for the UAS industry and its continued adoption and growth.

If you are considering launching, expanding or moving your UAS-related business, consider doing it in Loudoun County, Virginia. Call or email me today.


Last month, we hosted a panel and networking event at George Washington University's Science and Technology campus in…

Posted by Loudoun County Economic Development on Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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