Drone tech is an exciting innovation that is taking the world by storm. Most of us have a conceptual understanding of drones through movies. However, it is not just science fiction anymore. Drones are soon going to be a part of our everyday lives, from assisting in consumer activities to assessing construction sites; from covert military operations to bettering the field of agriculture, drone tech can accomplish it all.
However, Drone aka Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) is not a new concept. It has been around since the first world war when both Britain and America built them to carry explosives, serve as targets for training, but were never used operationally during the war. As time passed, 2016 marked the comeback of drones, and newer, better prospects of this tech are being uncovered ever since.
Drone tech has literally limitless potential. When combined with advanced tech like AI, Big Data, Robotic Process Automation (RPA), there isn’t anything that drone tech cannot achieve. According to ‘AirDroneCraze’, drone tech has 7 potential generations.
Generation 1: Basic remote-controlled aerial vehicle
Generation 2: Static design, Fixed camera mount, video recording and still photos, manual piloting control
Generation 3: Static design, two-axis gimbals for clean images, HD video, basic safety models, assisted piloting.
Generation 4: Transformative design, three-axis gimbals, 1080PHD video, improved safety modes, autopilot modes.
Generation 5: Transformative design, 360-degree gimbals, higher-value instrumentation, intelligent piloting methods.
Generation 6: Safety and regulatory standards-based design, intelligent piloting models and full autonomy, automated safety modes, platform & payload adaptability, airspace awareness, commercial suitability
Generation 7: Fully compliant safety and regulatory standards-based design, enhanced intelligent piloting models and full autonomy, automated safety modes, platform and payload interchangeability, full airspace awareness, complete commercial suitability, auto takeoff, land, and mission execution.
Consequently, the current drone tech is of 5th or 6th gen. Considering this, it is evident that this technology has progressed a long way and there is still room for growth.
As of 2020, the drones market was valued at USD 20,245.78 million and is estimated to expand 2x by 2026. Apart from private enterprises and businesses, governments contribute to the major share of investments in drone tech. In 2021, the investment by governments, consumers, and enterprises are 8.85, 2.75, and 0.9 (in billion US dollars) respectively.
Ubiquitous Applications of Drone Tech
Drone tech is used variably among various industries. Work efficiency, time and cost savings, revenue growth, better data analysis, and safety can be accomplished depending on how one uses drone tech. Possessing such vast potential, benefits, and ease of usage, drone tech is permeating industries both major and minor alike. Let’s look at how different industries utilize drones.
Construction (commercial application and market value – $45.2 billion)
Inspection and maintenance costs of high-raised buildings, wind turbines, or bridges cost a lot of money and it is equally dangerous. However, employing drone tech in this field could cut these costs by half.
Also, during the construction of new sites, companies can keep a keen eye on the progress using drone tech. Since construction sites usually span over a large area or contain multiple zones that need inspection, using drones is the ideal and efficient approach because they can reduce costs while multiplying the accuracy of the inspection.
Agriculture (commercial application and market value – $32.4 billion)
Agriculture is one such field where the manual quotient cannot be completely removed. However, times are changing and technology is offering a better way of farming. Drones make it possible to assess farms from sky-view. They help in strategically monitoring a farm and consequently enable precision farming. Also, farmers can reduce labor costs by employing drones to spray their farms. With more innovations springing up in this field, it will become more relevant to the agriculture sector by enabling various farming activities.
Law Enforcement (commercial application and market value – $10.5 billion)
Police forces are gearing up to include drones in their consignments. Drones can cover large areas faster than humans and also probe remote places that are difficult for a man to reach. Drones can be equipped with tasers, rubber bullets, or such non-lethal weaponry to take care of minor disturbances in the neighborhood. So it is likely that we’ll be seeing drones complement police forces in law-keeping.
Entertainment and Media (commercial application and market value – $8.8 billion)
Commercial filming and photography is the basic and most used application of drone tech. Aerial shots were way expensive to obtain earlier, but now, thanks to drone tech, they can be achieved rather easily. This has opened prosperous avenues for photographers; Hollywood is going to hire tonnes of drone operators for its future projects.
Also, drones help capture images and videos with much precision even in a fast-paced environment. This is indispensable in sports as it allows athletes to analyze their game. Drone tech is very useful in journalism too. It can help capture images from a remote distance. It is also easy for a drone to hover and observe someone from a safe distance (this is, however, a double-edged sword).
Delivery of products
Drones can achieve delivery better and faster. Not only consumer delivery of products from online sites, but local shops can also expand their business by employing delivery drones. Drones can also assist in promoting telemedicine as they can reach remote areas with the prescribed medicines and help bridge the physical divide. Also, in the case of a pandemic (like Covid-19), drones can be useful to transport goods between enterprises and customers.
Research & Conservation
Some places are difficult for a man to travel to, like the deep ocean bed, or the mouth of a volcano but these places are vital sources for research. They contain minerals and scientific insights that are necessary for various scientific theories. So, to exploit such resources, drones are the best way. Also, in mines and quarrying sites, employing drones can avoid the loss of human lives.
Drone tech is intensively used in the conservation of flora and fauna. Areas vulnerable to poaching or habitats of endangered species can be monitored constantly using drones. Also, in case of any threats, immediate action can be dispensed. Drones also help in monitoring pollution levels and the data captured by them can be used in building better action plans.
Drones are vital during disaster relief. They help in dispatching food, medicines, and basic amenities for disaster-struck areas. Also, weather drones can monitor weather conditions efficiently than conventional methods. This leads to better and timely disaster control and management. With weather drones, in case of a tornado, a warning can be issued 60 minutes prior to the occurrence.
Though the days when the trucking industry will be replaced by drones are still far, it is not an impossibility. Soon enough, heavy-duty drones will replace trucks to carry around inventory between warehouses. This will reduce fuel, labor, and operation costs.
Internet Service Providers
Big tech companies like Google are investing in drone tech for magnanimous purposes like dispensing internet connectivity to remote areas. Connecting the edges of the world to the net is important to achieve inclusive development.
The insurance sector is employing drones in its own way. It is using drones to assess insurance claims on-site and detect frauds. Surprisingly, the involvement of the insurance sector in the drone market is around USD 7 billion.
As a technology applicable in such varied niches, drone tech is an emerging force. There are a few shortcomings to this tech due to its capacity of being omnipotent. Federations are skeptical of drone usage as it can be easily misused to invade a person’s privacy. Many such security issues have barb-wired this tech with multiple federal legislations.
However, none of this is stopping investments from flowing into this field. That is because apart from a few ethical challenges, drone tech is a one-of-a-kind innovation that can be molded to suit any enterprise or business.