Commercial drones have leapt far ahead of regulators and are already entrenched in a handful of massive industries

The fast-growing global drone industry has not sat back waiting for government policy to be hammered out before pouring investment and effort into opening up this all-new hardware and computing market.

A growing ecosystem of drone software and hardware vendors is already catering to a long list of clients in agriculture, land management, energy, and construction. Many of the vendors are smallish private companies and startups — although large defence-focused companies and industrial conglomerates are beginning to invest in drone technology, too.

In the most recent report from BI Intelligence, we take a deep dive into the various levels of the growing global industry for commercial drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). This 32-page report provides forecasts for the business opportunity in commercial drone technology, looks at advances and persistent barriers, highlights the top business-to-business markets in terms of applications and end users, and provides an exclusive list of dozens of notable companies already active in the space. Finally, it digs into the current state of US regulation of commercial drones, recently upended by the issuing of the Federal Aviation Administration’s draft rules for commercial drone flights. Few people know that many companies are already authorised to fly small drones commercially under a US government “exemption” program.

Here are some of the main takeaways from the report:

In full, the report:

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