Businesses take advantage of lax regulations on drones

A small drone hovers in the sky on February 1, 2014 during a meet-up of the DC Area Drone User Group. Drone enthusiasts from the Washington area, who come together regularly to fly their small machines.

The Washington Nationals baseball team got into a bit of trouble with the Federal Aviation Administration a couple of weeks ago. They were using a drone to take aerial pictures of spring training -- the kind of shots that are pretty much impossible for a human to capture.

The FAA said that nobody can do anything commercial with drones until it says so. The FAA has since lost a round in court on that issue, but while it works on new regulations, there are loopholes -- and business opportunities.

Josh Ziering runs a San Francisco-based company called QuiQui, which delivers pharmaceuticals via drone 24 hours a day. Ziering said he knows he has a battle on his hands.

“I would describe myself as a trouble maker,” said Ziering. “So we’re going to cause as much trouble as possible until they’re ready to create regulation and make this industry happen.”  

We asked Ziering what he would do if the regulations mapped out by the FAA prohibit him from running his business.

“We would love for the FAA to have regulations that allowed for drones,” said Ziering. “And if it unfortunately excluded us from those regulations that would be tragic. But at the same time, the FAA is only for America. So there is literally an entire world of people that we can deliver things to.”

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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