California | 2023 State Drone Commerce Scorecard

California ranks 16th in its readiness for commercial drone services.

Rank: 16

California placed 16th in the 2023 State Drone Commerce Scorecard rankings. The state scored 50 out of 100 possible points in how prepared it is for commercial drone services.

The Six Factors Contributing to the Overall Score

A Score in Gray Indicates a Score Below the Median of All States

10 / 30

Airspace Lease Law
California law allows state authorities to lease low-altitude airspace above state highways, which allows state officials to create drone highways above these roadways. However, the law is silent as to whether local officials can lease airspace above local roads.

25 / 25

Avigation Easement Law
California law creates an avigation easement, which means drone operators are protected from nuisance and trespass laws as long as their drones do not disturb people on the ground.

0 / 20

Task Force or Program Office
State leaders should consider convening a statewide drone task force or creating a drone program office.

0 / 10

California does not have a drone sandbox. State officials should consider dedicating state facilities and airspace to commercial drone testing.

10 / 10

Law Vesting Landowners with Air Rights
California law expressly provides air rights to landowners, which reduces litigation risk for drone operators.

5 / 5

Jobs Estimate
California is in the top quintile when it comes to the number of drone-related jobs per 100,000 people.

How California Scored Relative to Its Peers

Commercial drone-readiness scores vary across the nation. To give state leaders and residents insight into how their state compares, we have provided the scores of four state peers. In this case, these peers are selected because of their geographic and political similarities.

Chart showing how California scored relative to its peers

California scored 50 of out 100 possible points. The top ranked state in 2023 was Arkansas, which scored 90 points.

Chart showing how California scored relative to its peers

Get in Touch With the Author

Brent Skorup regularly briefs policymakers on his research and has appeared as a guest for news outlets like C-SPAN, NPR, CBS News, ABC News, and CNBC Asia.

Dive Deeper

Access the full 2023 report to learn more about the methodology, download the data, and see how the scorecard has changed since last year.