To Paul Charbonnet, co-owner of Baton Rouge-based Atmosphere Aerial, drones represent freedom, the filmmaker’s creativity loosed, camera views and angles restricted only by imagination. The bird’s-eye view writ large.
“The unlimitedness of the shot is just incredible,” Charbonnet said.
The devices can fly closer to buildings or actors than a helicopter and at a fraction of the $10,000 daily rate for a helicopter.
Atmosphere Aerial is one of a growing number of firms the technology has launched. A search for “aerial” in the Louisiana secretary of state’s website turns up at least 10 drone companies, most started in the last year or two.
The Federal Aviation Administration estimates about 7,500 small drones may be in commercial use by 2018. It’s unclear how many people are already flying the devices just for fun. DIYDrones, an online community for hobbyists, has close to 59,000 members.
In Louisiana, the technology will generate an estimated economic impact of $213 million from 2015 to 2017, generating 1,097 jobs and tax revenue of $1.44 million, according to the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. The association prefers that drones be called unmanned aircraft systems.
An association study shows the devices will have a U.S. economic impact of $13.6 billion over their first three years of integration into the National Airspace System, which controls the country’s air traffic. The economic impact would swell to more than $140 billion over the next 10 years.
“We’re talking about a plethora of applications, whether it starts with Arctic research, firefighting, flood monitoring, crop dusting, mining, farming, aerial photography, real estate, storm research, advanced security, port security, cargo, search and rescue, volcanic research or pipeline monitoring,” said Mario Mairena Sr., senior government relations manager for the association. “The list goes on and on.”
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com