Use of drones in business, recreational, and data-gathering applications – to name a few uses – has exploded in the past five to ten years, to the point where they are already becoming commonplace tools.
Business and industry have rapidly adopted drone use to improve efficiency and streamline operations. This has been happening at such a rapid rate, that Goldman-Sachs predicts that between 2016 and 2020, combined business and civil expenditure on drone-related products and services will hit $13 billion.
For many people, when they think of drones, using them for deliveries comes to mind. However, this phenomenon is largely in its nascent stage. It has yet to be widely deployed with success. Regulatory barriers stand in the way of widespread adoption of drone delivery services. Though it’s certainly not difficult to imagine drones delivering packages, food, groceries, and so on.
Drone-use for making professional videos, however, is an excellent usage of this technology, and it’s one that is close to our hearts.
Aerial videography refers to using drones and other aerial platforms for gathering data, understanding scenes, and tracking objects. It’s normally integrated with GPS for accuracy and efficiency.
Surprise surprise, it’s also used in film-making, such as videos for business marketing purposes, recreational purposes, and cinema. Drone technology is allowing creators to experiment with cinematography and add new dimensions to their creations.
With drones, it is possible to create those vast, sweeping shots of landscapes, impressive aerial views, and sophisticated tracking shots, without the need for lots of crew and equipment. Shots that could only be achieved from a helicopter – and someone to fly it – can now be created with a drone.
Drone videography, therefore, is ideal for capturing action sports, without the erratic angles and quality of wearable cameras. Pushing the boundaries of film-making, drones are popular in creating feature films and music videos, too. They not only provide great quality, innovative angles, and smooth tracking, but they are quick and cost-effective to use.
Large tracts of cropland can be very challenging and costly to manage. Manually inspecting many of these operations is not feasible. Historically, hiring planes or helicopters was the only way to collect the necessary data. These flights were only conducted periodically due to the expense.
Drones have made these inspections possible on a weekly basis, making it much easier to identify and address crop-threatening issues in a timely manner. With various sensor attachments available, drones are capable of collecting data on water usage, heat signatures, as well as soil and crop overall health. Having access to weekly data on these factors means a much higher probability of maximum crop yield potential.
Wintergreen Research puts the estimate of the value of the agricultural drone market at $3.69 billion by 2022. Full service companies are marketing themselves directly to farmers, offering turnkey solutions for data collection and management. These service packages include the use of drones, pilots, and sensors, software, data analysis, insurance, and handling any regulatory compliance filings.
Infrastructure Development & Maintenance
Infrastructure of all kinds can be very difficult to access, let alone inspect thoroughly in an efficient manner. Drones make such inspections much more quickly and efficiently, and therefore more economically.
Perhaps the most important difference drones are making in this sector is safety. Climbing around on bridges or dams to conduct visual inspections can be very dangerous. Taking those duties off the plates of humans represents a huge advance in safety in the infrastructure development and maintenance sector.
Previously hazardous and costly inspections on such infrastructure as floating ice-control booms, cell-phone towers, dams, bridges, utility infrastructure after storm damage, and solar & wind farms, or any site that’s large or inaccessible, can now be conducted in mere minutes, as opposed to hours or days previously required.
The business community is also exploring the use of drones as infrastructure. AT&T is testing they Flying COW drone project, which would deploy drones that could function as temporary cell towers.
During disasters or events hosting large crowds, this technology could be deployed to spread load burden on existing fixed towers.
Facebook is also testing its Aquila drone technology. This unit would remain airborne for months at a time, and beam internet signal to designated areas. This technology would also be of great use in disaster areas, or impoverished areas of world, with limited or no internet access.
Real-time inspection during construction can catch mistakes that could be costly if undetected. PwC, a polish drone company has demonstrated that the number of threatening accidents on construction sites drops by up to 91% when drones are monitoring the site.
Construction equipment giant Caterpillar recently invested in Airware, a drone startup company, and will offer drone services via its existing dealer network. Inspecting roofs, mining, and utility operations are just a few areas that would benefit from integrated access to these services.
Drone use is transforming many industries, and this list is only growing. Aside from the early adopters described earlier, the use of drones is on the rise in many other sectors, including entertainment, marketing, insurance claims assessment, forestry, surveying, mining, and the military. The technology holds great promise for improving their operations.