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As consumer and commercial interest in unmanned aircraft systems increases, regulators are beginning to loosen their restrictions on drones -- and one group says the United States could reach one million drone flights a day by 2035.

The million-per-day milestone will happen "given the right regulatory environment," said trade group Consumer Electronics Association. CEA presented its research this week at the Unmanned Systems 2015 Conference in Atlanta, which is the nation's largest drone conference.

"This is a billion-dollar technology market literally just waiting to take off," Brian Markwalter, CEA's senior vice president of research, said in a prepared statement. "We see a dynamic market with tremendous growth potential" once the Federal Aviation Administration finalizes rules for commercial drone use, he said.

In its own announcement at the drone conference, the FAA announced an exploratory "Pathfinder" drone program in which three companies including CNN will use unmanned aircraft for certain commercial purposes.


-- Julianne Pepitone