Many United States drone entrepreneurs find it hard to get off the ground as rivals in Europe, Canada, Australia and China take off. According to those drone makers, one obstacle stands in the way: regulation. The Federal Aviation Administration banned all but a few private-sector drones in the U.S. while it completes regulations for them in the next few years.
Outside the U.S., accommodating policies fuel the commercial-drone boom. In Europe, Germany has the largest number of drone makers that are generally profitable and operate on cash sales, not startup money.
The FAA said its drone policy reflects the concern for people’s safety in the air and on the ground. In September, the FAA authorized six filmmaking drones increasing the number of commercial-drone operators to eight. In Europe that number is in the thousands, including middlemen and contractors who use the drones to gather data for clients. Because of FAA regulations, Google and Amazon tested their delivery-type drone in Australia and Canada. These organizations have now announced a political action committee to lobby U.S. federal, state and local governments to nurture the country’s drone market.