The use unmanned aerial vehicles at mines is taking off in Northern Nevada as operators apply the technology to tasks such as surveying and inspections. The Federal Aviation Administration made way for the commercial use of drones, such as work at mines, when it updated commercial operation rules for small UAVs effective August 2016. Instead of requiring a pilot’s license, the federal government allows an operator to pass an aeronautical knowledge test to be able to fly commercially under certain restrictions.
Officials in Nevada say they see broad horizons for the unmanned aerial systems industry following the posting of federal aviation rules designed for small drone aircraft. As one of six states picked in 2013 for Federal Aviation Administration-authorized testing — and the first in 2014 to be able to issue airworthiness certificates — the Silver State is emerging as a key hub for the drone industry, said Chris Walach, operations director for unmanned aviation at the Nevada Institute of Autonomous Systems.
At this year’s CES, expect to see lots of drones, self-driving cars, virtual reality headsets, Internet-connected homes and appliances and those dazzling ultra-HD TVs. An estimated 1 million drones were sold in 2015, when the Federal Aviation Administration set forth new rules requiring registration by consumers.
The market for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) in the United States could top $11.4 billion by 2022 — and technology entrepreneurs in Northern Nevada are well positioned to capture a significant share of that business. The problem? The Federal Aviation Administration, which generated the $11.4 billion estimate, acknowledges that the size of the UAS market depends in large measure on the regulations and legal structures that grow up around the industry. Those structures currently are, to put it mildly, in a state of uncertainty.