This post highlights the business impact and market opportunities the proposed rules brings to drone manufacturers, distributors, service providers, and investors. It also appears in sUAS News 'The Market'.
On February 15, 2015, the commercial drone industry breathed a collective sigh of relief. The Federal Aviation Administration’s proposed new rules for small unmanned aircraft systems seemed, at first blush, somewhat practical. The FAA regulations will eventually allow commercial operations of drones that weigh under 55 pounds in U.S. airspace, without requiring operators to acquire a pilot’s license. You can read the full 195 pages of proposed rules here(hereafter sUAS notice of proposed rulemaking, or NPRM) and some analysis about them here, here, and here.
In this post, I’ll focus on what I think are the immediate economic winners and losers. My analysis is concentrated on the business impact and market opportunities that the proposed rules have for drones manufacturers, distributors, service providers, and investors.
What do investors need to know?
According to CB Insights data, 2014 investments in the budding drone industry topped $108M across 29 deals. Year-over-year funding increased 104% as venture firms jumped into the drone space with sizable bets. Still, over the past couple of years, I’ve heard VCs and potential investors discussing the FAA bottleneck and questioning whether this was the right time to invest. Regulatory uncertainty has kept many on the sidelines. But this new clarity should help investors, including those interested in investing in operational and data / information services.