Sarasota businessman believes drones will be common in future - WFLA News Channel 8

Sarasota businessman believes drones will be common in future

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SARASOTA COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

A Sarasota businessman manufactures drones that are used in countries around the world.

Gene Payson operates Troy Built Models in a warehouse near his Sarasota home.

He assembles drones that have been purchased by law enforcement agencies, TV production companies and other interested parties around the globe.

It's amazing technology. His drones can take pictures, broadcast video, and even help fight fires.

"There's fish farms that want to have [drones] to scare birds off of their fish farms and things like that," said Payson.

His drones range in price from $90 to more than $150,000.

Payson says he works mostly for the commercial sector.

"The governments do call us from time to time but we try to stick, at least my business tries to stick with commercial, civil and public kind of applications and stay away from the military-based stuff. We try to do things that are a little more positive than that," he said.

Payson says his drones are being used in South Africa to fight poaching, and in the United States, local police departments purchase them for investigative work.

He said, "Police departments are looking for usually accident scene investigations, they can do it a lot faster from the air and they can get traffic opened up quicker."

Payson says there are a lot of risks that can come with the unmanned aerial vehicles and regulations have not been put into place yet.

He said, "Nobody can fly a drone for commercial reasons. People can go and play around with cameras all they want as long as it's a hobby but as soon as it's done for hire then it's totally illegal right now."

But the FAA says that may change soon. In a report, the FAA says it's working on regulations for the commercial use of drones. The federal agency expects at least 10,000 commercial drones to be in the air in the next five years.

"It should be a real boon to the United States economy because we should be exporting these to every single country. There's only one other country, Israel who is really advanced in drones. So it's really Israelis and the United States that are fighting it out for the world market and right now the Israelis have a big jump on us," said Payson.

Payson believes once the FAA restrictions begin to be lifted you'll see more drones being used around the country.

He predicts one day farmers will be using drones to take care of their crops and TV stations will be using drones for aerial footage.

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