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Real Estate Drones


SAN FRANCISCO—While has the FAA has yet to decide how to regulate drones for commercial use, the remote-controlled aircraft are already being put to work in commercial real estate, creating demand for operators. (All those years of video games are finally paying off.)


We recently snapped a crew setting up a drone to take marketing pics of The San Francisco Shipyard next to 49ers stadium. This industry is so new that Aerovision Pro's Stephen Wheatcraft, middle, with business partners Catherine Benton and Richard Atkinson are three of only 20 licensed drone operators in California. (So if someone in California tries to pick you up at a bar by saying they operate drones, they're probably lying.) Aerovision also uses drones for contractor documentation, snapping time-lapse progress reports on projects to make sure workers are keeping deadlines. (That’s a Dji S1000 octocopter. That baby, including camera, just came out in March with a $17,000 price tag.)


Lawyers like S.F. Hanson Bridgett partner Steven Miller (above)—who's personally looking forward to the possibility of burrito bombers—is seeing developers deploy drones to give future residents or tenants sneak peeks of high-up views during construction, and landlords are even using them to spy on tenants (clearly to learn how to make passable banana bread); that's where his expertise comes in. While the FAA won't rule on the nationwide usage of drones until next year—right now, it's something of a free-for-all—this month, the FAA issued its first-ever permit to let one fly over US soil (BP got it to do Alaskan surveys). 


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