Four industries transformed by drone technology


Date: 1 July 2020

A drone is fitted with a camera to carry out surveillance

UAVs (or drones, as they are more commonly known) have taken the world by storm. From companies like Amazon using them for shipping, to recreational users hoping to get a birds-eye view of their surroundings, the uptake in their use in the past decade has been rapid.

Far from being just a toy, they are transforming how some industries operate. They provide countless benefits, including cost reductions, increased efficiency and even improved safety. In this article I will highlight four examples of industries that have been transformed by increasingly available drone tech.

Clean tech and conservation

Green tech has seen a meteoric rise in recent years and the average consumer is more socially conscious than ever. Now drones have even found uses in fields of conservation and clean tech. They are also being used to combat climate change, an issue that has constantly been in the public eye since.

Technology entrepreneur Ewan Kirk, who has supported green drone projects personally, said that he would like UAVs to be "an essential tool at the fingertips of environmental agencies that are helping in the fight against the climate emergency". Drones can be used for aerial surveillance, tracking the spread of changes in the climate or environment, as well as to track and stop poachers of endangered species.

They are also being used to reverse the effects of climate change. Start-up business, Biocarbon Engineering has created drones that can plant as many as 100,000 trees per day. This will cut government and NGO costs immensely as where normally this kind of labour to improve the environment has to be done manually.

Film and media

Perhaps one of the more obvious industries that has benefited from the advent of cheap drone tech is film and media. Long, panning aerial shots were previously out of budget for amateur filmmakers. Shots of this kind required a helicopter, but now are accessible to even the smallest production budgets. Due to their lightweight nature and relatively small size, they can even capture shots that helicopters are unable to reach.

But it isn't just indie cinema that is feeling the effect. Drones have been used in the majority of modern blockbusters, including Harry Potter, Mission Impossible and Captain America. As the tech becomes more complex, so do the capabilities of its use. Better camera gimbals and more durable hardware is seeing pilots push the limits of aerial photography.

Hazardous industries

Industries like mining, oil and gas and underwater operations are now safer than they ever have been. This is in no small part thanks to the uptake in drone technology.

Drones have the advantage of not requiring a human to interact with the environment. This has increased the levels safety in hazardous industries where danger was previously part of the job description.

For example, they provide a means of inspection in hard to reach or dangerous places. Carrying out these inspections is usually expensive and exposes the workers to a wide variety of risks. It could mean using drones for inspecting facilities at height or difficult to reach places such as on bridges or oil rigs.

Over time, this will result in less injury, less deaths and better quality of life for all staff involved in these industries. The initial monetary investment in drones far outweighs the possible consequences of putting workers in potentially dangerous scenarios.

Delivery companies

The other industries mentioned above have already begun to feel the effects of what drone tech means for them. But this is not yet the case for delivery companies. Not only will drone tech change the lives of consumers when it becomes a truly global phenomenon, but it will drastically improve the lives of businesses too.

The big players like Amazon are already using drone tech to provide near-instant delivery to customers in some regions. When this becomes ubiquitous, it will be a game changer. Anything you need can be delivered to your door within hours. Drone delivery improves time management for all those involved. This will result in benefits for the average person, and increase the efficiency of businesses world-wide.

Drones provide a safer method of delivery. They conserve energy too and drive down transport costs, carbon emissions and the money spent on drivers. GPS will enable drones to deliver to more exact locations, removing the margin for error when using human couriers.

In summary

It's clear to see that drones will have a massive impact on a few industries, and already have in some. But the fact is, the availability of high-quality drone tech for ever lower prices will have a knock-on effect for every business. The use of drones in many industries is still in its infancy, but the technology is only getting better. Soon the problems of less-than-perfect software, human error and short battery life will disappear. Then we can really start to see what drones are capable of.

Improved safety, efficiency and reduced costs are hard benefits to pass up. Even with the recent negative press concerning surveillance and military usage, drone usage offers too many advantages to pass up.

Copyright 2020. Featured post made possible by Sharon Fishburne.

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