4 IT companies allowed to use commercial drones

Apple, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions & Qualcomm flying high after drone exemption petitions approved

4 IT companies allowed to use commercial drones

The Federal Aviation Administration has granted approval for more than 5,000 so-called Section 333 exemptions to operate commercial drones over the past year, and among those getting the go ahead are familiar names in the enterprise IT and networking market. 

Apple, Microsoft, Motorola Solutions and Qualcomm are among those tech vendors we found in the approved petitions database, with stated operations/missions for commercial drones -- also known as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) -- that include  photography/videography, aerial mapping/surveying, research and development, and security.

MORE:   | Commercial drones gaining altitude with top IT vendors

Qualcomm, for example (after liberally boasting about its many contributions to the wireless industry), asks for permission to experiment with drones as it “seeks to bring the innovations that built the modern wireless communications industry into the growing UAS sector and help to pioneer the future of UAS flight control technology.” 

(The BIG CAVEAT about this short list of vendors is that many other companies are in fact experimenting with drones via partners that have received exemptions and that are more directly part of the UAS community. Cisco, for example, is among such vendors.)

More action on the commercial drone front will take place later this year once the FAA puts forth its Small UAS Rule (a.k.a. Part 107), which will be a more permanent method of authorizing use.

In the meantime, take a closer look at these Section 333 exemptions by scrolling through the petitions and approval documents below: 

Apple: Approved March 25, 2016

Apple Inc - FAA Section 333 Exemption Rulemaking for using commercial drones by bbrown8331

Microsoft: Approved April 7, 2016

Microsoft -- Petition to FAA for Section 333 Exemption to operate commercial drones by bbrown8331

Microsoft -- FAA Section 333 Exemption for operating commercial drones by bbrown8331

Motorola Solutions: Approved Jan. 1, 2016

Motorola Solutions- FAA Section 333 commercial drone exemption rulemaking by bbrown8331


Qualcomm Technology: Approved Feb. 23, 2015

Qualcomm Technologies -- FAA Section 333 Exemption for drone operation by bbrown8331


Copyright © 2016 IDG Communications, Inc.

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