The Federal Aviation Administration is allowing companies and local governments to use unmanned aerial vehicles for almost anything they want. According to Politico:
At present, the FAA bars anyone from operating a UAV without obtaining an experimental operating certificate. A few law enforcement agencies have obtained those kinds of waivers, and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection uses UAVs along the U.S.-Mexico border. The FAA allows radio-controlled planes, but only when they are used in designated areas, and even then only for recreational purposes.
If the technology becomes widespread, police departments can use UAVs to replace or supplement costly and dangerous helicopter surveillance, companies can use them to watch far-flung interests such as oil fields, and utilities can use them to monitor mile after mile of power lines.
Politico noted that the new rule is "alarming privacy advocates."
FAA documentation on the new rule lists three market segments that would benefit: "military, civil government, and commercial."