One of the drones, an Insitu Scan Eagle 200, will be used by a "major energy company" for monitoring migrating whales and icebergs off the Alaskan coast, while the other one, an AeroVironment PUMA, will monitor oil spills up in the Beaufort Sea. These are the first of what will surely be a significant number of commercial drones use for aerial surveillance around the country.
The arrival of certified commercial surveillance drones comes as a first step to measures in the FAA Reauthorization Act that President Obama renewed last year calling for new regulations to govern the use of commercial drones by 2015. Until now, drones could only fly with an experimental airworthiness and not for commercial purposes. Although that didn't stop photographers or journalists from using the machines for specialized purposes. Itdid kickstart an entire industry of commercial drone manufacturing to make sure there are UAVs ready for purchase when the FAA gives the go ahead. More here.