On Dec. 10, 2014, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) expanded the commercial use of unmanned aircraft system (UAS) technology to four more companies, including its use for surveying, construction site monitoring and oil rig flare stack inspections. The previous exemptions were granted for video capture by television and film companies.
The four companies approved to operate drones less than 55 pounds within their site at all times were Trimble Navigation, Woolpert, VDOS Global and Clayco. FAA is expected to release draft UAS guidelines in the coming year.
Additional applications for UAS use include inspecting power lines, pipelines and bridges; mapping and monitoring crops; and delivering packages. To date, FAA has received 167 exemption requests.