The Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation & Assessment program also estimates the market could be worth up to $62 billion per year worldwide by 2020, according to Chris Wickham’s article.
Lambert Dopping-Hepenstal, a BAE engineering executive and an ASTRAEA project director, told Reuters the technology should be at the right maturity level within three-to-four years.
Wickham writes the consortium believes drones in civilian airspace can help with search and rescue operations and could also check oil pipelines.
Dopping-Hepenstal told Reuters drones will probably be first used in sea rescue searches and for monitoring fishing grounds.
In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration faces a September 2015 deadline to integrate drones into civilian airspace, while the European Commission has set a 2018 goal to do the same.