Drones or UAVs - The Next Wave of Economic Development

One of my favorite things to do is go to the beach at Nags Head, NC and relax by Mile Post 11. Sitting with my SPF 70, beach chair and towel laid out, I soak in those moments where all my troubles escape me. The smells of the ocean air coupled with the laughs of the kids take me to an unparalleled level of freedom.

In those moments, I glance out and see the Atlantic for miles. Surfers appear for their daily runs where they wait patiently in the water on their boards scanning for a new ripple to emerge. 

Then they see one. 

The momentum of a new wave moves towards them. Adrenaline pumps through their veins and in a matter of seconds, they now ride the wave through the unexpected twists and turns.

Just before the wave crashes on the shoreline, surfers trust their instinct and know when to disembark. Their excitement and energy propel them into the next wave.

Just like a surfer, great businesses and leaders think ahead. They look on the horizon for the next massive wave that catapults them into a subsequent level of opportunity. But those who choose not to look onward get caught up in their own wave of confusion and denial as they have failed to take part in the next generation of products.

What if I told you I see the next wave of economic development would you believe me

Would you take the actions to prepare or would you just sit on the beach and watch others relish at the moment?

The choice is yours, but if you’re serious about it, then grab your board.

Thanks to the advances in technology over the past decade, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones are becoming prominent across the world.

Not only do they provide great entertainment, but true visionary leaders see the value in them for their businesses.

Companies like Google’s Alphabet Inc. have created Wing Aviation LLC and are making serious strides in the advancement of drone implementation in their businesses. Amazon has started Drone Air to deliver packages while Uber Elevate develops the next era of transportation.

Drones or UAVs - The Next Wave of Economic Development

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Cleared for takeoff!

Wing Aviation is the first to receive an airline status for drones thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This landmark decision now paves the way for a new generation of package delivery.

The FAA has granted permission for Wing to charge for deliveries.

Over the next few months, test flights will be conducted near Blacksburg, VA where Wing will monitor, evaluate and refine their business model.

Part of the criteria for Wing to fly drones includes training routines and safety hierarchy, owners must have U.S. citizenship and follow other FAA mandates.

By providing documentation to the FAA, safeguards will be established to justify their request to expand the beta testing area.

The FAA took several months to consider this request and thanks to the constant communication between Google and the FAA, they are cleared for take-off.

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Still at the Terminal

Amazon’s Prime Air remains at the terminal as permission from the FAA is needed before clearance is given. Amazon’s drones will deliver parcels in under thirty minutes with the projection to reach millions of customers.

Using advanced technology to “sense and avoid,” these drones will deliver packages under five pounds. Test runs conducted in the United States, Great Britain, Austria, France, and Israel have aided Amazon to get to this stage.

Amazon hopes to design an air traffic system that will serve as a hub for delivery and returns.

In the Hangar

Uber’s Elevate continues to be in research and design mode as they develop Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) for vehicles to transport people.

Take for example, a trip that would normally take two hours in a major city, like San Francisco. With Uber’s Elevate, the ride would dramatically reduce the time to fifteen minutes or less.

A huge advantage to this shuttle service centers on the fact that specific routes do not need to be predetermined. This on-demand urban transit can accommodate multiple people comfortably.

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Obstacles and Advantages Lie Ahead

Like any successful entrepreneur knows, models must flush out issues before they can really “take off”. Here are some factors to consider.


  • Noise Level
  • Privacy Concerns
  • Air space issues
  • Perception that drones are a bad idea
  • Acquiring the clearance from the FAA
  • Battery Technology
  • Weather


  • Faster, Cleaner and more Efficient
  • Safer
  • Saves money to ship, travel
  • Reduces wear and tear on infrastructure
  • Will get cheaper

Economic Development Opportunities

Successful business minded people always persevere through their obstacles. Regarding drones, their future is as bright as the horizon. Economic Developers can tap into this new venue before everyone else on-board by looking ahead to the new economy. Here are just a few opportunities that one can see.

  • Creating new jobs
  • Drone pilots to fly the drones
  • Technicians to manufacture drones and batteries
  • Aerospace Engineers to design new, more sophisticated models
  • Air Traffic Controllers to guide drones in the airspace
  • Independent contractors for businesses like real estate companies who can use the footage for selling homes or for farmers to tell which crops may need water
  • Local fire and police departments drone teams to assist in search and rescue
  • Programmers to develop Virtual and Augmented Reality Scenarios
  • Training
  • Pilots must have licenses such as FAA 107 and the FAA 135, will involve training that can include as much as 1700 hours.
  • Skyport (sites in which drones are launched and retrieved) operators will need to be trained to understand the new wave of aircraft and the airfield
  • Constructing skyports

The possibilities are endless. For those communities who take off with drones will ride that wave for decades whereas those who decide to wait and see will be behind the opportunity because of them choosing not to be on the cutting edge.

So what’s it going to be? Ready for takeoff or are you afraid of change because you can’t see past the horizon?

The choice is yours. For the next generation of economic development is here and it’s up to you to get on-board and ready for take off.

Dr. Aaron Smith
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Dr. Aaron Smith
STEM Innovator Speaker, Top 50 Excellence In Education, Founder of Workplace Readiness Solutions
Subjects of Expertise: Human Resource Management, Design Thinking, Instructional Design
Featured Uplyrn Expert
Dr. Aaron Smith
STEM Innovator Speaker
Top 50 Excellence In Education
Founder of Workplace Readiness Solutions

Subjects of Expertise

Human Resource Management
Design Thinking
Instructional Design

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