Jax Forum Highlights Commerical Advantages Of Drones

Dec 17, 2013

Some of the drone technology on display Tuesday at a forum in Jacksonville on the budding technology.
Credit Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT

Jacksonville businesses are hoping unmanned aircraft systems, known as drones, could save them money and make businesses more efficient.

The unmanned aircraft systems industry, companies that produce drone aircraft, is expected to produce thousands of jobs and bring billions of dollars worth of economic growth to the U.S. over the next decade.

Ensuring that Northeast Florida is part of that market was the topic of a forum organized by the Jax Chamber held Tuesday morning in downtown Jacksonville.

Brent Klavon with the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems said the commercial uses of drones are unlimited.

"It gives you a whole new perspective of looking at something," he said of the technology, citing "precision agriculture" as one potential commercial use.

"You could fly an unmanned system over a strawberry field and identify blighted areas and address whatever that blight is, whether it's a lack of irrigation or pesticide so it saves time and saves money for that farmer."      

Other uses mentioned included weather forecasting and disaster response.

Congressman Ander Crenshaw, R-Jacksonvile, said the region can benefit from both the commercial and military uses of unmanned aircraft.

The Federal Aviation Administration currently bans the commercial use of drones, but Crenshaw says he’s working with FAA officials to work out guidelines that would allow their uses in a safe manner that protects privacy.       

You can follow Kevin Meerschaert on Twitter @KMeerschaertJax.