— This is the script of CNBC's news report for China's CCTV on February 16, Monday.
From military use to tech geeks' toys, drones are now flourishing in the commercial market -- agriculture, fire fighting, e-commerce delivery, etc. The latest in ag drone technology shows the drones can allow farmers to create aerial maps to locate soil stress and plot irrigation systems and create more efficient use of water, fertilizer and pesticides.
According to CEA research, the global market for consumer drones will approach $130 million in revenue in 2015, increasing by 55 percent from 2014, with unit sales of consumer drones expected to reach 400,000. The revenue from drone sales is expected to easily exceed $1 billion in just five years.
However, two major challenges lie in front of the promising drones business - privacy concerns and government regulation.
A recent poll conducted has revealed that most Americans have no issues with use of police drones, but are opposed to the idea of private drone ownerships. Some 64 percent admitted they wouldn't prefer their neighbors having a small drone, while about forty-two percent respondents were opposed to private drones in US.
The Federal Aviation Administration begins mapping safety rules for small remote-controlled aircraft, but giant online retailers, like Amazon, complained the rules would exclude its plans for drone delivery of products to customers.The FAA proposal opens a 60-day comment period. Industry experts say the review and analysis of the comments could take 18 to 24 months to finalize the regulations.
Many other countries are already using drones outside the military. The U.S. has lagged because of concerns of how best to integrate drones into the country's already crowded airspace.The FAA's proposals for operating drones will be a "staged" process, but the agency won't flip a switch and give blanket approval for all kinds of companies to operate drones. They will be introduced slowly so that the agency can continually monitor the process to ensure the U.S. skies stay safe.
CNBC's Qian Chen, reporting from Singapore.