Aerial Surveys a Top Use for Commercial UAS Operations, AUVSI Report Finds

Aerial surveys are one of the top uses for commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operations, according to a new interactive report from the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI). The FAA has granted more than 1,600 exemptions for aerial surveys out of more than 3,000 exemptions. Surveyors and other professionals seeking to map out large geographic areas have increasingly turned to UAS to make data collection easier, cheaper, and much quicker. 

In May 2014, the FAA announced it would consider granting exemptions for certain low-risk commercial UAS operations under Section 333 of the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. Since then, the agency has approved over 4,600 petitions. 

AUVSI analyzed the first 3,136 Section 333 exemptions from the FAA. The report offers interactive graphs that enable readers to isolate data by state and industry and gain a fuller picture of the UAS landscape in the U.S. Please find the press release on the report here

 Specifically, the report finds:
• UAS were used for aerial surveys in 1,669 FAA approved exemptions.
• California businesses using UAS for aerial surveys have received the most exemptions with 184 approvals, followed by Texas businesses with 149 and Florida businesses with 144.
• Exemptions granted for aerial surveys rose steadily since December 2014, peaking in October 2015 with 233 exemptions granted. In January 2016, 198 exemptions were granted.
• Many of the 1,575 companies using UAS for aerial surveys are small companies, with 89 percent of the business making less than $1 million in annual revenue and 87 percent having fewer than 10 employees.

Please let us know if you have any questions about the report or if AUVSI can provide further information to you about the current state of commercial unmanned aircraft systems in the United States. The report can be found at 

Commercial UAS operations will be among the many topics featured at AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL 2016, the unmanned systems and robotics industry’s largest trade show, taking place at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans from May 2 to 5. Michael P. Huerta, administrator of the FAA; Gur Kimchi, vice president and co-founder of Amazon Prime Air; and John T. Chambers, executive chairman and former CEO of Cisco Systems, will deliver keynote speeches on commercial UAS policy and implementation.

More than 8,000 industry leaders and professionals from more than 55 countries are expected to attend XPONENTIAL. The exhibit hall will showcase more than 600 cutting-edge companies from around the world, representing more than 20 industries. In addition, there will be more than 300 educational sessions, providing information about the future of unmanned systems policy, regulations and technology. Some programs that may be of interest to the mapping and surveying industry can be found here.