Dec. 11 (Bloomberg) — The Defense Department can claim paternity on more than its share of blockbuster technologies: the computer, the Global Positioning System, and, of course, the Internet. Now, you can add drones to the list.
The military’s much publicized use of unmanned aerial systems in Iraq and Afghanistan got the attention of companies from realtors to farmers to oil and gas companies. They all see a use for the vehicles in their businesses. The demand will create a market of at least $1 billion by 2017, when the Federal Aviation Administration estimates about 10,000 drones will be flying in the nation’s skies, according to Bloomberg Government.
One surprising booster of that growth is the Federal Emergency Management Agency that for a decade has given grants to cities and states to purchase drones.
Police departments in Seattle, Miami and Little Rock, Arkansas, have won grants to buy UA systems. So has the Texas Department of Public Safety. FEMA could fund $173 million in drone sales by 2017, with companies such as Honeywell International Inc., AeroVironment Inc. and Parrot SA profiting, according to Bloomberg Government.
The market will grow slowly until the Federal Aviation Administration, which gives permission to drone operators to fly the vehicles, finalizes rules.
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