Drone industry soaring to new heights

By  | 

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Drones are becoming more popular everyday.

PHOTO: Aerial Drone., Photo Date: 5/1/2015 - Photo: Pete CC BY 2.0

And now, the Obama Administration wants more federal agencies to use them.

The White House hosted its first workshop about it, and an expert from Virginia Tech was there.

“We’re going to do everything we can to make this accelerate as fast as we can, because if we don’t, the rest of the world is going to do it, and it’s going to leave us in the dust," explained ” Mark Blanks, Director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership.

He works at Virginia Tech’s test site for unmanned aircraft systems — or UAS.

It's one of only seven selected by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Over the past seven years, he’s seen the drone industry soar to new heights.

“The commercial market was much newer when I first started it was all mostly DOD (Department of Defense). There was not a lot of commercial activity. Now, in the past two to three years, it’s really obviously taken off, no pun intended,” he said.

Blanks was asked to speak on a White House panel exploring the near and long-term effects of drones for commercial and government use, as well as how they can help people in everyday life.

“We got the team players together and we got all the factors out on the table that we wanted to address and opened up to the world to say look we’re prioritizing it and these are the things we’re doing to solve the challenges to integration but we’re going to get there.”

Despite some concerns about privacy -- Blanks believes the benefits are far greater.

“I think it’s like any kind of technology, it can be used for good and it can be used for bad, I mean the computer can be done I mean the phone can be used the same way,” he said. "I think that there’s no question that drones have far more potential for good.”

Blanks is excited to return to Virginia Tech to see new ideas take flight.

“What’s next is already happening. We need to increase the tempo," said Blanks.

The Obama Administration says the drone industry could generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. Economy and create 100,000 jobs by 2025.