Drones are everywhere. Since taking the business world by storm in late 2016, the technology has quickly transformed from a nice-to-have luxury, into a must-have commodity. Like with any new technology, some people embrace the modernization, while some are hesitant to change the way that things have been done for years. Although the drone industry is still relatively new, drones have yet to reach their full potential, but their impact has not been small. Drones provide a cost effective, safe, and accessible way to take aerial photos and video, gather and analyze data, deliver goods, observe inaccessible areas, and so much more.
1. Drone Photography
Drones provide creative opportunities to companies by making aerial photography and video approachable and affordable in a way that has never been possible before, especially for the entertainment and marketing industries. With a wide range of uses from event photography to marketing applications, drone photography completely changes the options that businesses have to represent themselves or their products. Previously, aerial footage was expensive and difficult to obtain, requiring trained pilots, scheduled flights, and costly aircraft. Now, with unmanned aircraft, aerial footage is vastly easier to procure, and at a fraction of the cost. With fewer restrictions, more people have the opportunity to create breathtaking imagery and cinematic footage, to be used for advertising and marketing.
2. Disaster Relief
Disaster relief organizations now have new ways to get relief packages into the hands of those who need them, or locate people who need help, especially in areas that aren’t yet safe for human travel. Drones have been used in emergency situations to locate missing people in earthquake rubble, find where planes have crashed, help extinguish fires, monitor lava/volcanic activity, assess the damage and casualties in natural disasters, etc. In disaster situations, roads can be damaged or people can be trapped in treacherous terrain, making it dangerous to access resources and assistance. With drones, pilots can safely monitor the damage, assess the terrain, and rescue people quickly, changing the way that we respond in emergency situations.
3. Real Estate Marketing
Photography has always been important to the real estate industry, and drones have quickly moved into this market. Commercial real estate firms were early adopters of aerial photography, but for decades relied on expensive helicopters and airplanes. Drone companies are now able to provide up-to-date imagery of commercial properties for a fraction of the cost.
Residential real estate agents have quickly learned that homes with drone photos and video consistently sell faster than homes that have only ground-level photos. This is because aerial photography gives potential home owners a much better idea of the property, location, and surrounding area than ground-level photography, and can create more interest and attention for these listings.
Before drones, the expense of aerial photography might have been worthwhile to market million dollar listings, but now is affordable enough to be used for properties with a smaller price tag. Although the needs of commercial real estate brokers differ from those in residential, both categories of real estate have been able to significantly benefit from the use of drones.
4. Safety inspections
Remote inspections use drones that can maneuver into hard to reach areas to gather information about the safety of structures such as bridges, buildings, dams, and other construction sites without putting a person in a dangerous situation. Using unmanned aircraft greatly reduces the cost and time of inspections, eliminates the potential risk of injury of inspectors, and provides access to perspectives and angles that were not previously possible. Safety is crucial to industrial worksites, and drones can reduce the cost while multiplying the accuracy of inspections.
5. Drone Delivery
Companies such as Amazon and UPS have experimented with delivering goods with drones as a faster, cheaper alternative to other delivery systems, and this technology just might make the delivery truck a thing of the past. While this is not possible quite yet due to airspace restrictions and legal issues, it is still a promising option for the future of the delivery of goods. In rural areas, it can be more expensive to deliver goods because of the distance between deliveries and the cost of manpower and fuel to get from one delivery to the next. If drones are introduced, the cost per delivery would go down, making shipments much more efficient. These drones can essentially fly themselves to and from their destinations, requiring no pilot control and no fuel cost, which would save delivery companies millions of dollars.
6. Data Gathering, Surveying, Mapping, Monitoring
Drones have also had a large impact on the data mapping industry in recent years, and will continue to change the way we survey and map land. Rather than gathering information from the ground, drones are capable of setting specific flight paths and gathering accurate information from the air, and reporting back precise data. This is vital to businesses such as (put examples of businesses that need data mapping here). Counting inventory is a tedious, time consuming job, and when done by people, can have errors. But if we hand this job over to a drone, it can calculate the changes in inventory automatically, quickly, and accurately.
7. Advancements in Artificial Intelligence
In order to make drones do the work we want them to, new ways for A.I.s to learn and think are being pioneered. Advanced A.I. will have wide reaching implications for many businesses, and the drone industry is no exception. Autonomous drones are already excellent at gathering information, and the next step is processing the information that it gathered. Currently, drone pilots can set a flight path and sit back while their drone flies itself, then process the data from the flight later on. In the not too distant future, drones will be able to take off, fly, gather information, then process that information all without any human intervention.
8. Safety Issues and Government Regulation
As drone use has grown, so has regulators’ itch to regulate them. In recent years, drones had been completely restricted unless authorized by the FAA, but now, through LAANC (Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability), pilots are able to receive waivers much more quickly and easily. Over the next decade or so we’re sure to see many new jobs open up in writing and enforcing regulatory guidelines for drone usage, private or commercial.
Drones already impact a wide range of businesses by providing a cost effective way of completing a variety important tasks, making what was once expensive and challenging now affordable and straightforward. Basic, repetitive tasks can be delegated to machines, allowing people to focus on other, more important things. Businesses that utilize this new technology will see the financial benefits soon
9. Monitoring Construction Progress
Construction companies now use drone services to help keep clients up-to-date on the progress of their work. Construction sites are often massive and these sites, by nature, are always changing. Construction firms can now hire drone operators to visit a construction site on regularly scheduled intervals and quickly turn around imagery to share with clients.
Innovation within the drone industry, and by companies that use drone services, will continue indefinitely. The business use-cases and value provided to them will continue to grow. Despite the massive growth of the drone industry since 2016, there is still room to grow. It’s not hard to imagine a time in the near future when drones will play a role for every business.