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FAA Predicts More Than 7 Million Drones Will Be in the Sky by 2020 Most will be used for industrial inspection and real estate photography, it expects.

By Lindsay Friedman

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's turning into a drone's world out there.

As it becomes more common to see the technology in flight overhead, it's no surprise the FAA reported there's more than 2.5 million of the machines in action on a regular basis. However, what was unexpected in the agency's recent report was the estimated number of drones in the skies by 2020: 7 million.

Right now, the majority of drones belong to hobbyists, some 1.5 million, while about 500,000 are for commercial use. All drones must be registered to the FAA before liftoff. So far, some 400,000 have been registered.

In its predictions for the next 20 years, the government entity admitted it's difficult to exactly determine what the future for drones, or "unmanned aerial systems," might look like and what its impact might be as the industry continues to rapidly evolve.

Related: Food Ordering App Tests Drone Delivery in Singapore

However, that doesn't mean the FAA's not going to give it the old college try. In the report, it says 42 percent of commercial drones will be in industrial inspection, 22 percent will be used in real estate or aerial photography, 19 percent will be in agriculture, 15 percent in insurance and the government will be responsible for 2 percent.

Of course, other projections from various other groups may disagree. For example, in an independent study, the Center for the Study of the Drone's reported photography and real estate would be the biggest source of drone usage.

Still, no one's denying the increase in drones taking flight overhead over the next decade or two.

In fact, multiple companies have begun incorporating the technology into their businesses, including Amazon and Walmart. The average joe can also get in on the action, too, as stores continue to pop up across the country, including one in New York City.

Related: Shops Are Opening Across the U.S. to Help You Get a Drone of Your Own

Needless to say, it'll be interesting to see how regulators like the FAA keep up. For everyone's sake, lets hope it involves a little more work than the most recent report implies.

"The FAA will continue to work with industry and stakeholders to safely integrate UAS into the [national air space]," the report says.

Congress is currently debating the matter, so there could be hope … right?

Lindsay Friedman

Staff writer. Frequently covers franchise news and food trends.

Lindsay Friedman is a staff writer at

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