Industries that use drones

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In this article, I will define drones and their addressable market as well as highlight how their capabilities can be leveraged in commercial business operations. Recent data shows that the future of drones will be shaped by practical commercial applications. The purpose of drones in business operations has broadened in different industries in the last few years due to their ability to drive efficiency and data gathering and analytics.

What is a drone?

Drone is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). UAC is defined as a “powered, aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely”.

In recent years, drones have begun to transform various commercial industries as they can fly beyond visual line of sigh (BVLOS) while maximizing production, reducing costs and risks, ensuring site safety, security and regulatory compliance, and protecting the human workforce in times of a pandemic. They can also be used for consumer-related missions like package delivery and critical deliveries of health supplies.

Below are some of the industries that used drones/UAV for commercial their business operations.

Agriculture

The versatility of drones provides many different avenues for improving upon existing agricultural process including:

Soil and field analysis – Drones can produce 3D maps, quickly and cheaply, which are then used for the design of seed-planting patterns and the generation of a wide range of data types with many applications. For example, nitrogen-level management.

Crop monitoring – Satellite imagery was previously the most advanced form of crop monitoring, but suffers from some major drawbacks:

  • Satellite imagery is very costly.
  • Images must be ordered in advance and can be imprecise.
  • Poor weather impedes data quality.


Crop’s Health Assessment
– Drones can also be used to generate multispectral images of crops (based on the amounts of green and infrared light reflected), which are then analyzed to track changes in health and maturity of the crops.

Irrigation – Drones equipped with special monitoring equipment can be used to identify parts of a field experience “hydric stress” (inadequate of water of enough quality). They use infrared and thermal sensors to provide snapshots of entire fields, allowing targeted diagnoses of areas receiving too much or too little water.

Crop Spraying – The ability of drones to easily adjust their altitudes and flight paths according to the surrounding geography and topography comes from the use of increasingly sophisticated equipment. This makes them well-suited for crop spraying, as they can scan the ground and apply liquids quickly and with great precision. Some experts argue that crop spraying by drones may be up to five times faster than with regular machinery.

Aerial planting – Drone-planting systems are under development with the goal of drastically reducing labor costs by using compressed air to fire seed pods directly into the soil. This avoids the significant labor costs traditionally associated with planting activities.

Real Estate

Drones have been beneficial in capturing pictures of high-value properties, showing that even the real estate industry can be upended by drone technology. By 2016, real estate was already reported to be one of the most active industries when it came to adopting drone technology. Drones can be a useful tool for understanding how to better outfit a property with the views, amenities, and features. Here are some of the most common types of properties drone pilots are hired to photograph:

Telecommunications

Telecommunication towers/cell sites also are inspected frequently to ensure service reliability. In the aftermath of a natural disaster (such as storms, hurricane, etc.) drones can use to inspect telecommunication towers – a process that would have been too dangerous and time-consuming to do manually by human inspectors.

Energy Market (Oil & Gas)

Fossil fuels remain a key energy source of the world. Inspection of the infrastructure used to refine, extract, and transport oil and gas is an important part of the industry and often needed to ensure compliance with standards and regulations. With the use of drones, much of this inspection work can be done safely and remotely. Using specialized thermal sensors, some drones can find leaks faster than a human inspector, while onboard high-resolution cameras enable some issues to be diagnosed remotely. Another area where drones have shown promise is in setting up new sites to produce energy. Drones that gather topographic detail and survey areas can be used to help oil & gas companies identify new drill sites, or they can be used by solar utilities to design configurations for new arrays.

Healthcare

Drones help provide more efficient healthcare to patients from a distance or while mobile. In the future, small indoor drones could deliver medicine to the bedside of a patient from the pharmacy, thus eliminating some human steps. This would lead to more rapid and less error prone administration of medications. 

Medical drones can deliver items such as drugs, serum and small medical devices quickly and to remote areas. Where retailers are still testing drones for the delivery of large packages to their customers, medical drones are already being used in developing countries. Because medical supplies are often small and light, drones available today have the capabilities required. 

The time-critical nature of medical supplies is driving the development of a regulatory framework that will allow autonomous medical drones to fly long distances to bring life-saving supplies to patients.

Tourism

Tourism is one of the most competitive industries. If you are part of this industry, it means you want to attract more and more people to visit your sight, beach resort, hotel, restaurant, castle, national park or any other tourist attraction. The best and most effective way to attract potential visitors’ attention, stimulate them and convince them to come is by visualizing your point of interest on video. Drones are one of the newest and best solutions for presenting tourism attractions on aerial video and photographs. 

Flying over your location, drones can take high quality images and HD videos, intensifying emotions by displaying a very special view and unusual perspective. Aerial photography and videography with piloted aerial vehicles are ideal for the travel and tourism industries. Stately homes in beautiful landscapes, beaches, rivers and forests that can be hard to show off to their best extent from the ground come to life in an aerial photograph or video. 

The same applies to entertainment venues such as sports clubs, golf courses and even large cruise ships. Drones have already succeeded in revolutionizing aerial tourism photography with incredible footage being captured in places that can’t be accessed by foot.

An article on commercial drones would not be complete without a section on the basic requirements and regulations that govern the use of drones for work find out more in our commercial drones rules and regulations article here.