Drone Technology Commercial Uses & Applications
While drones have been used by the military and government organizations for decades to gather data, their use in the private sector is much more recent. However, once drone technology became more accessible, it was rapidly adopted by the private and commercial sector to improve operations and increase efficiency. The drone services market continues to grow exponentially – what was a $4.4 billion industry in 2018 is expected to reach over $60 billion by 2025. In addition to increased usage of drones, how we use them is evolving, too, which is why we are taking a look at what you can expect for commercial uses and applications of drone technology as we move into 2022.
Current Uses of Drone Technology
Because it’s such a versatile technology, drones are used across a wide range of industries. Though they are most commonly known for capturing stunning aerial photography and videos that are used in marketing or advertising, that’s just a small segment of the market. Industries including construction, mining, energy, and agriculture are commonly using drones to save time and cost on data collection while improving the quality of the data they collect. Uses include, but aren’t limited to:
- Environmental assessments;
- Progress monitoring for construction sites;
- Drone inspections of work sites and assets;
- Land surveying using LiDAR, photogrammetry, and digital twin creation.
Upcoming Trends in Commercial Drone Usage
As the technology and equipment become more accessible, and advances in artificial intelligence occur, the industry is expecting drones to be a more active part of commercial and industrial operations.
Light detection and ranging, or LiDAR, is a method of measuring distances and detecting objects in real space by sending a laser pulse down to the surface and measuring the length of time it takes for the light to return to the sensor. The data is used to create three dimensional point clouds which can then be used to create maps, models, and other deliverables.
Drones make LiDAR much more accessible to businesses and organizations in a wide variety of industries, including construction, archaeology, mining, environmental sciences, and energy. Sensors attached to drones are advancing in accuracy and precision, improving the data that is collected, but just as important is the speed at which data is gathered. Our teams can scan up to 500 acres a day while capturing precise data, making land surveying and topographic map creation faster, less labor intensive, and more scalable.
Creating Digital Twins
A digital twin is a virtual model of a physical object providing a close to exact replica including scaled size and dimension, color, and in some cases temperature and wall thickness. Having a digital twin of the asset shows how the asset will perform in the future by using AI software to create algorithms and variables. For example, a digital twin of a metal component used in manufacturing can show how rust may develop, where stress or heat can cause cracks, or what the lifespan of the component is. Having multiple scans over a period of time can help identify the differences between the digital twins.
How do drones improve this? By sending a drone to capture 360 degree footage of the physical asset at close range, you can quickly and easily get the data necessary to create the digital twin, even from assets in difficult to reach areas.
Drones are already used in agriculture as they are able to map regions and determine crop damage after a storm, discover water drainage issues, determine quantity of yield, find disease or pest and check up on livestock quickly. For large farms spanning thousands of acres, the use of drones will be expanded to a more active role including spraying insecticides and herbicides and improving irrigation.
Healthcare & Rescue
Drones are currently being used to improve emergency response after a disaster or in dangerous situations by showing the extent of damage, safe areas, and where to deploy rescue teams. However, by equipping drones with thermal cameras, drones can also be used in more advanced search and rescue missions to find survivors, especially in earthquakes or other disasters where people may be trapped under rubble.
Additionally, we expect drones to be used more actively, by dropping off or transporting supplies in challenging terrain. Zipline, a United States-based company, uses drones to transport vaccines in Rwanda and Ghana, and we can expect this to expand into 2022.
Amazon is already exploring Prime Air, a way to deliver packages and products to customers. Due to a growth in demand for delivery and a shortage of delivery drivers, Amazon does appear to be moving ahead with the service in test markets to use drone technology in delivery services with the goal of delivery in 30 minutes or less for more customers while improving safety and efficiency.
While relying on helicopters and traffic cameras has been the norm for local news to report traffic conditions and car accidents, more news organizations are turning to drones to capture the footage they need. Drones can fly lower and go beyond the “bird’s eye view” to provide more in-depth information about road conditions while saving time, resources, and money to do so. Improving news footage will be a growing trend for drone technology in 2022 and beyond.
Learn How Drone Technology Can Support Your Business Goals
Drones make it possible to collect data and access information in a variety of ways while saving time and minimizing costs. Call 1-888-376-6965 or fill out the form below to schedule a free consultation with FlyGuys today and learn how we can help you meet your goals.