The Verge has just released a database detailing the first 500 companies approved to fly commercial drones in the U.S., in partnership with Bard College’s Center for the Study of the Drone. The first wave of commercial, for-profit drone companies in the United States are working on everything from aerial photography for Hollywood movies, to monitoring soil content on farms and patrolling oil pipelines for leaks.
Most of the companies on the list focus on what’s called “precision agriculture”–the use of sensors and monitors to track soil composition, water flow, bug infestations, and other metrics by large agribusinesses. Since drones are inexpensive and can cover broad swaths of land, they are especially well suited to those initiatives.
This is good news for one company in particular: Chinese drone maker Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI), one of Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies of 2015. “More than half of the first 500 exemptions asked to fly DJI products, and its overall share of the market is likely even higher, as many companies requested multiple DJI drones,” The Verge‘s Ben Popper writes.
Commercial, for-profit drones currently occupy a gray area when it comes to legality in the U.S. While all 500 companies The Verge listed applied for exemptions from the FAA, other companies have been flying drones for film shoots without permits.