Commercial Applications of Drones

Written by Shambhavi Mathur

Overall, drones will be more impactful than I think people recognize in positive ways to help society —Bill Gates

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), are progressively becoming valuable devices in a range of industries. While the drone industry in the U.S. is still constrained by the Federal Aviation Administration's slow speed of changing regulations, commercial development in the sector increased from around $40 million in 2012 to more than $1 billion in 2017. In December 2017, McKinsey & Co. report estimated that the UAV industry will "have an annual effect on the country's gross domestic product" of up to $46 billion.

Like for most other innovative tools, pressure on the market tends to push down drone costs and quickly advancing technology. Affordable drones now exist that include advance features such as:

1) 4K cameras capturing high-quality images and video

2) Built-in GPS and autopilot, enabling the drone to fly preprogrammed routes

3) Bluetooth capability

4) Collision avoidance

5) Terrain follow (the ability to maintain a consistent height while flying over uneven terrain)

6) Active tracking (automatically follow a selected subject)

7) The ability to fly at speeds of 50 mph (80 km/hr) or more

Security measures, durability, motion sensor, and battery life have continued to improve.

Whether you are technologically inclined to start a new company or have an established business that might benefit from modern technologies, consider taking advantage of one of the newest developments by becoming a drone expert. Offering drone services on a contractual basis could also be an attractive part-time or home-based enterprise.

UAVs were mostly used by the military for anti-aircraft target practice, intelligence gathering, and weapons platforms but are now widely used for civilian purposes such as traffic monitoring, weather monitoring, business drone photography and agriculture.

The global market for commercial drones is growing at an exponential rate with increasing numbers of organizations using this technology for various purposes. This market is projected to reach a staggering US $1.8 billion by 2020. This massive increase is helped by the increased use of drones for various tasks, such as cell tower inspection, maintenance, etc., across numerous sectors of industry. It is expected that this trend will grow tremendously in the future.

Some of the most popular commercial application of drones are:

· Agricultural drones: Agricultural drones can benefit farmers in a number of ways and this sector is predicted to be one of the biggest opportunities for commercial drones. Farmers can use drones to know which crops fail in the present environment, map the area and study the irrigation systems, etc. The use of this technology to perform these time-consuming tasks can help farmers in saving a great deal on overheads and time.

· Drones in real estate: Architects use drones in real estate by using the images and videos of the property to create 3-dimensional views for their clients.

· Drones in engineering projects: Engineering firms can use in-depth projects such as maintenance inspections, transmission cables, and oil pipelines. Drones can also help engineers to increase the efficiency manifolds in a variety of critical activities, such as airport planning, road construction planning, etc.

· Environmental conservation: Drones are discreet and can be used to keep a tab on animal populations without disturbing them, and can provide critical insights that can be used in conservation efforts, such as habitat management, flood assessment, etc.

· Media coverage: One of the obvious and widely accepted applications of commercial drones is media coverage. A few years ago, only the larger news corporations were able to afford news helicopters and drones. But now, even local journalists and small media houses are also able to afford a drone and provide better live aerial shots to its viewers.

· Drone delivery: Drone delivery is one of the fastest-growing and most popular drone applications. This concept is expected to gain higher demand as the technology evolves and matures in the near future. E-commerce giants like Amazon have already invested in a drone technology called Amazon Prime Air and will launch the entire service once the feasibility issues are resolved.

· Search and rescue operations: Drones are used successfully to locate people in areas that are affected by fire, flooding or any other natural disasters. Drones that have an infrared sensor can use heat maps to detect people in remote areas. Assisted by visual information, the rescue operation personnel can quickly track people in distress in real-time.

· Drones used for security purposes: This is another field in which commercial drones are increasingly being used to ensure uncompromised safety. Here drones are used to apprehend and track any kind of criminal activity and are also used to track terrorist movements and to identify fugitives in war zones. Parking spaces are also available today with complete drone surveillance systems to ensure maximum escort for dignitaries.

· Drones in special events: This is one of the latest trends that is catching up fast. Drones today are also used in special events like weddings, house warming ceremonies, birthdays, etc. The ability to take aerial shots using drones, which had not been possible with traditional video recording systems in the past, is now giving a whole new perspective to create memories of such special days.

· Assessing insurance claims using drones: This is one of the latest commercial drone applications, where this technology is used for claiming insurance in case of an accident. By taking pictures and videos, when you notify the insurance company of the accident, a drone may be sent to the accident location to assess the condition of the vehicle. Drones can also be used to monitor damage to the home and to speed up the whole insurance process.

Companies/News agencies which use drones for various purposes are:

1. Amazon

2. Balfour Beatty

3. BBC

4. Easyjet

5. Microsoft

6. Nasa

7. Network rail

8. Royal mail

9. Shell

10. The UPS store

11. Walmart

Drones have reported a wide number of applications in different sectors. They are no longer limited to military uses only, and different businesses are now investing in these tools for quicker and more efficient customer service. Perhaps soon we'll see all our packages delivered by commercial drones.

Consumer applications for drones are very common nowadays, from only using the drone as a toy to fly around, to using it for several different hobbies. Small-scale tricopters and quadcopters are popular for consumer use because they are lightweight, compact and easy to know. Public use of drones will continue to grow in the future as more and more people figure out what a fun hobby it can be.

The various applications of drones display no signs of slowing down any time soon. From industry to the military, to art, to user use, to simple use of drones for pleasure, there could be anything in the field of drones for everyone. That's why it's such a fun place to hold your eyes on, and technology may just shock you!