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Drone Co-habitation Services operates a Phantom 3 commercial multi-rotor unmanned aircraft


Drones or UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) have drawn considerable attention not only for their use in modern warfare; but also for other purposes to include business applications and the ability to deliver goods and services. As a direct result of hovering features and the capacity to transport payloads of varying sizes and weights, they can provide low cost and easy operation for a number of industrial uses that include thermal imaging, soil and crop management in agriculture, and the delivery of retail items to encompass a wide variety of goods such as groceries, books and medicines.

Business Applications of Drone Technology: Innovation and the Use of Unmanned Aircraft

December 2017

Table of Contents

Selected Book Titles
Representative Journal Articles
Conferences, Papers, Proceedings
Current Legislation
Associations /Organizations
Drone Use Outside the U.S.
LC Subject Headings


Image (left): Drone Co-habitation Services operates a Phantom 3 commercial multi-rotor unmanned aircraft.
Photograph by Dominic Hart.
Courtesy of NASA.
MEDIA ADVISORY M16-120, October 13, 2016

Services can include disaster relief operations enabling first responders to save lives and assess damages, surveillance at border crossings, and the inspection of roads and bridges in the event of natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornados and hurricanes. They can service mega distribution centers to ensure last mile delivery and they can deliver defibrillators to heart attack victims in two minutes as opposed to fire and rescue which may take up to seventeen minutes. Their safe use is under consideration in current urban and suburban planning to provide goods and services of all types. These are only a few of the business applications that demonstrate the potential for rapid expansion in this industry.

There are a number of concerns pertaining to airspace, safety, privacy, property rights, managing land use and restricting nuisances and noise pollution. In light of these concerns, current regulations are restrictive and remain controversial. Businesses that demonstrate a need to operate drones may be granted special authorization in certain circumstances but generally must stay at low altitudes and keep drones within visual-line-of sight. In general, small commercial drones can operate below 400 feet within visual-line-of-sight outside restricted airspace under current regulations. Operators can seek waivers in certain cases—for example to fly higher, beyond line-of-sight, or over people.1 Examples may include inspecting pipelines, surveying bridges, soil and crop management, particularly after natural disasters. It is estimated that with new regulations for the commercial use of drones, the economy could see an 82 billion dollar impact, an expanded tax base and an estimated net gain of 100,000 jobs. Recent legislative proposals 'to develop a civil unmanned aircraft policy framework, a pilot program and for other purposes' have been introduced as the Drone Innovation Act of 2017.

This guide has a number of sources which can assist with further study on this topic. While some of the sources will have references to strategic defense initiatives and background information on the current uses of drones in the defense industry, the purpose of this guide is to enable users to remain current with the topic as it relates to business applications using a variety of sources to include books, articles, legislative information, databases and other online sources. If a slightly older reference is included, it contains important information on early designs and rationale for the product.

Additional titles can be found by consulting the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Should you have additional questions on this topic, you may Ask A Business Librarian at the Library of Congress.

Nanette Gibbs
Business Reference Specialist

 1. Federal Aviation Administration. DOT and FAA Finalize Rules for Small Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Press Release. June 21, 2016 Accessed on 12/05/2017.

Last updated: 12/15/2017

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  February 28, 2018
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