The FAA predicts that annual sales of hobbyist drones and aircraft will more than double by 2020.
In a forecast released earlier this week, the regulatory body stated that it expects as many as 1.9 million drones to be sold in the US this year. Sales forecasts going forwards suggest that as many as 2.3 million will be sold next year, increasing annually with as many as 4.3 million sales expected in 2020.
The outlook comes as no surprise really. Drone software is beginning to catch up with new hardware releases, and safety fears held by the public and officials will ease as advanced obstacle avoidance and emergency landing features become more commonplace.
On top of smarter, more autonomous drones, bigger names in consumer technology, such as GoPro, are wading in to the consumer drone arena. The release of the highly anticipated GoPro Karma will, through the brand’s name alone, have huge repercussions and draw many new users into the industry.
Different sectors within the industry are also starting to appeal to non-expert consumers. Micro-drones, which gain plenty of traction on crowdfunding platforms, is one example.
Back in December the FAA issued a rule requiring all aerial systems weighing more than 0.55 pounds (250 grams) to be registered using a new online database. There have already been more than 400,000 registrations to date.
Similar legislation is expected to be put in place to simplify the process of registering drones for commercial purposes this Spring. With the lengthy process of obtaining a Section 333 exemption out of the way, the FAA expects commercial drone sales to increase at a similar rate over the next 5 years.