Unmanned and Uncontrolled – Inkstick

The market for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) has exploded over the last decade in both the civilian and military sectors, with drones becoming everyday household objects and favored weapons of war. But the White House’s recent policy relaxation aimed at imposing American UAV export dominance is misguided and risky. Despite the Trump administration’s suggestion that the move is intended to reflect changing market dynamics, the effort is, in effect, a regulatory race to the bottom. To this end, any future administration, Biden, Trump, or otherwise, should prioritize a reversal of this reckless deregulation.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the number of civilian drones heavier than 250 grams (the weight you’re required to register your drone at) in the United States alone reached 1.5 million in 2020, with 171,000 certified drone operators. The European Investment Bank projects the global number of drones to reach 35 million by 2022. In 2015, Goldman Sachs estimated that the global market for drones will reach $100 billion by 2020, with 70% stemming from the military application of UAVs.

In total, 102 countries have active military drone programs, and although unarmed surveillance drones make up 95% of military UAVs, armed forces all over the world are making a large push for more deadly options. 40 countries possess attack capable UAVs and 29 countries other than the United States are developing their own domestic armed drones. The global drone fleet is not only proliferating in number
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