By now there's little doubt that drones are here to stay — not just for military use but also for civilian use. In fact, a new "drone census" shows that the number of commercial drone Certificates of Authorization is now almost equal to those from the military.
The drone census pulls data from a number of sources including the Congressional Unmanned Systems Caucus, the Federal Aviation Authority and DIY drone groups, to name a few. The data show some interesting trends like how many of the drone licenses are issued to colleges and universities with especially high numbers in the Rust Belt. Hobbyists, meanwhile, make up a large number of those applying for FAA authorisation.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, though, California is where all the action is happening. "The combination of Bay Area tech brain power and Southern California military brawn make California arguably the most active state in the drone ecosystem," report Matt Caccavale and Samra Kasim who helped build the map. "With seven Unmanned Systems Caucus members, including Chairman Buck McKeon, 80 AUVSI member companies, 22 COA applicants, and 15 DIY groups, California is the current leader in the UAV marketplace." The Congressional Unmanned System Caucus, by the way, includes 48 members of the House with four Republicans for every Democrat.
This map will surely look different in a couple of years, since the drone industry is growing so rapidly. Legislatures across the country will surely struggle to keep up with technology — actually, they already are — and to deal with public perception of drones vis-a-vis privacy and freedom. Then again, it sometimes feels like the industry itself struggles to keep up with its own technology. [Drone Census via Slate]