Lawmaker sees drones as business opportunity, not just a public safety issue

[private]The growing use of drones by Georgia residents is more than just a public safety issue to one legislator – he says it’s also an “exploding industry” that represents a major business opportunity for the state.

“We want to see what we can do to attract more drone-related business development,” said Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), who chairs a House study committee on drones.

“Some other states have got out ahead of us, in terms of attracting industry,” Tanner said. “It’s an exploding industry.”

Tanner’s committee will hold its final hearing later this month before proposing legislation to regulate the use of drones, and he wants to make that a joint hearing with the Senate Finance Committee that would look at the business development side of drones.

In its Wednesday hearing, the study committee heard testimony from industry segments that are already benefiting from the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles.

William Lovett of Phoenix Air Group, a charter aircraft company based in Cartersville, said the company started providing drone services about 15 months ago to movie production companies that film in Georgia.

“It was a great investment from an economic standpoint,” Lovett said. “It has made us money so far.”

Mark Woodall, a lobbyist for the Associated General Contractors of Georgia, said the construction industry initially used drones for survey and inspection purposes, but the use of the vehicles is now “off the charts.”

If a contractor is putting up a high-rise building and wants to check out something at the upper levels, he can send a drone 40 stories up “to take a look at the problem and take a picture” without a worker being put in physical danger, Woodall said.

“Lives are being saved because of the applications and uses of this technology,” Woodall said.

Dexter Lewis, an engineer with the Southern Co., said utilities are now using drones to make aerial inspections of power lines and conduct storm damage assessment, missions “that would previously require a bucket truck.”

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: business development , drones , Kevin Tanner