The Federal Aviation Administration has granted approval for more than 5,000 so-called Section 333 exemptions to operate commercial drones over the past year, and among those getting the go ahead are familiar names in the enterprise IT and networking market.
Apple, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions and Qualcomm are among those tech vendors we found in the approved petitions database, with stated operations/missions for commercial drones -- also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) -- that include photography/videography, aerial mapping/surveying, research and development, and security.
Qualcomm, for example (after liberally boasting about its many contributions to the wireless industry), asks for permission to experiment with drones as it “seeks to bring the innovations that built the modern wireless communications industry into the growing UAS sector and help to pioneer the future of UAS flight control technology.”
(The BIG CAVEAT about this short list of vendors is that many other companies are in fact experimenting with drones via partners that have received exemptions and that are more directly part of the UAS community. Cisco, for example, is among such vendors.)
More action on the commercial drone front will take place later this year once the FAA puts forth its Small UAS Rule (a.k.a. Part 107), which will be a more permanent method of authorizing use.
In the meantime, take a closer look at these Section 333 exemptions by scrolling through the petitions and approval documents below: