Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios Pro Rata

Dive into the world of dealmakers across VC, PE and M&A with Axios Pro Rata. Delivered daily to your inbox by Dan Primack and Kia Kokalitcheva.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Nashville news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Nashville newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Columbus news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Columbus newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Dallas news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Dallas newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Austin news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Austin newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Atlanta news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Atlanta newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Philadelphia news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Philadelphia newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Chicago news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios Chicago newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top DC news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with the Axios DC newsletter.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Drone sales surpassed the $1 billion in revenue mark for the first time this year, as both hobbyists and companies are tapping into the flying devices for a growing number of uses — from taking selfies to inspecting railroads.

Expand chart
Data: Consumer Technology Association; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios

Why it matters: Major tech companies including Google, Amazon and Intel are investing millions to developing drones for their own business uses. Amazon, for example, wants drones to deliver packages directly to your doorstep. The industry is working with the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with new drone guidelines to enable the new technologies to take flight. But the government in general is wary of opening up the skies to millions of drones that could cause safety, privacy and national security hazards.

The current market:

  • Personal drones are the most popular, becoming extensions of smart phones to take aerial photos and action videos— but they are also being used for business purposes like real estate and insurance photography and broadcast TV. They are smaller (weighing under 250 grams) and do not need to register with the Federal Aviation Administration to be used.
  • Commercial drones are equipped with sensors and other stabilizing technologies to make them safer in flight. They are typically specialized for things like 3D mapping, package delivery or inspecting industrial equipment. Commercial operators can fly drones under 400 feet during daylight hours as long as the drones stay within the visual line of site and do not fly over people.
  • The FAA can grant a waiver for other commercial uses — such as the Super Bowl halftime light show featuring Intel-powered drones.
  • Drone demand is growing fast as the FAA streamlines the waiver process to make it easier to get permission to fly drones for specific purposes — but those developing the drones would like the process to move faster.

Where the market's going: Tech companies and shipping logistics operations want to put drones to work to deliver packages or keep tabs of hundreds of miles of highway or power lines.The FAA expects more than 400,000 unmanned aerial vehicles could be flying for commercial purposes over the next five years. That's a more than six-fold increase from today.

A few examples:

  • UPS has tested a drone that launches from the top of a package car, autonomously delivers a package to a home, and then returns to the car while the driver continues on a different delivery route.
  • Tanker company Maersk has tested drones for ship-to-ship deliveries in the North Sea.
  • Amazon Prime Air wants to use drones to get packages to customers in less than 30 minutes. It demonstrated this at a conference earlier this year.
  • In an even more ambitious project, Airbus's Silicon Valley arm is building an pilot-less aircraft designed to carry a single passenger or cargo. It plans to fly a full-size prototype this year.
  • Media companies are already among the biggest users of drone technologies to get footage of stories unfolding and entertainment purposes. Snap, for example, is reportedly in talks to acquire the selfie-snapping drone.

"There are great applications for package delivery to speed up business and lower infrastructure costs," says Brian Markwalter, SVP of research and standards for the Consumer Technology Association. "There may also be specialized cases to try to get medicine or supplies to hard-to-reach areas."

But: Functions that take the drones beyond an operator's line of sight are not yet allowed by the FAA without going through the waiver process. Brian Wynne, CEO of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, told Congress in May that "government needs to do more to support it and advance innovations such as delivery services."

What's next: Companies developing drones are working with the FAA to better integrate the technologies into the national airspace, such as building a standard for remotely identifying owners of drones. A recommendation for remote tracking could come by the end of the year. Companies are also participating in advisory committees to develop roles for state and local governments.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

New data from South Africa suggests the Omicron variant spreads more than twice as quickly as the Delta variant, and that immunity from prior infection doesn't appear to protect a person very well against Omicron variant.

Why it matters: The findings are extremely preliminary, and there are still many open questions about how well vaccines work against the variant. But these initial breadcrumbs of data are helping the world begin to understand what it's up against.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
2 hours ago - Technology

AI could end foreign-language subtitles

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

AI companies are developing methods to translate and synthesize voices in ads, movies and TV.

Why it matters: The advances in voice synthesis could help fix bad movie dubbing — and they come as international content is becoming increasingly important to studios and streaming platforms as part of the globalization of entertainment.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Updated 11 hours ago - Technology

A dark view of the future of autonomous weapons

A still from the video "If Human: Kill ( )." Image: Future of Life Institute

A new short film warns of the coming risks posed by the development and proliferation of lethal autonomous weapons.

Why it matters: Drones with the ability to autonomously target and kill without the assistance of a human operator are reportedly already being used on battlefields, and time is running out to craft a global ban of what could be a destabilizing and terrifying new class of weapon.