The other thing that impresses me about UAV technology...it is already going open source. I have seen a number of examples of both open source hardware and software projects (Paparazzi being and example where both come together). This makes the technology even more affordable and attainable to the technologically capable.
UAV's are heavily restricted in the US, which currently allows only government and government contractors to operate these craft outside of the hobbiest realm. However, this is expected to change some time before September 30, 2015 as per the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. In the mean time, many of the advances in this technology are coming from outside the US. For example commercial UAV operation is quite legal in Canada and many other jurisdictions so there are many good examples of commercial utilization from some of these countries. Some examples of commercial UAV use are:
- Environmental Monitoring for Many Industries
- Vegetation Health and Vigor Mapping for Viticulture
- Mapping of Borrow Pits for Construction, Engineering or Mining
- Providing Aerial Intelligence to Police
These are just a few of the current uses of UAV's. For more information on this facinating advance in Geomatics, visit any of the following industry websites: