The domestic UAS market is still in an early and nascent stage, but there’s a lot of excitement and anticipation already. The simultaneous maturation and falling cost of the technology are driving a number of trends: early movers are looking for entry-points into the marketplace; the FAA is under growing pressure to announce their geographic test-sites and rules for commercial use; communities of entrepreneurs in the UAV space continue to grow and become more diverse; and people are watching carefully for innovation from the lower end of the market.
However, there are major questions about how regulation and public acceptance of the technology will play out. Some suspect the FAA may not be ready to announce a regulatory framework within the time frame allotted by the federal government. The promise of job creation, for those designing, building, operating, and manufacturing the technology, seems offset by a fear of displacement. Broader fears of invasion of privacy and government surveillance add to the uncertainty.
Despite these questions, there are people and organizations who are paving the way for a new economy around flying sensors that can do jobs far more cheaply and routinely than a human (or other technology) could.
ASTM F-38 UAS Standards Committee