The Federal Aviation Administration has been rather stingy when it comes to giving companies the OK to test, let alone employ, drones. After getting permission this week, AIG joins State Farm and USAA as insurance providers with exemptions that allow them to use the UAVs to perform tasks that are risky to regular folks -- things like roof inspections after a major storm. In addition to keeping its inspectors safe, the company says drones will speed up the claims process, which means its customers will, in theory, get paid faster. "UAVs can help accelerate surveys of disaster areas with high resolution images for faster claims handling, risk assessment, and payments," the news release explains. "They can also quickly and safely reach areas that could be dangerous or inaccessible for manual inspection, and they provide richer information about properties, structures, and claim events."
The FAA's exemption also allows AIG to expand its drone research here in the States, after previous flight tests were conducted in New Zealand. For the UAVs to really become useful in these scenarios, the government will have to ease restrictions -- specifically the requirement that the pilot keep the vehicle in sight. If you'll recall, the FAA recently granted Amazon permission to conduct tests and is working with CNN on research for media use. While the current rules may be prohibitive, it's clear that the Administration is willing to update its regulations as the technology becomes even more pervasive.