Commercial drone use continues to rise. Global adoption is expected to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 13.61% between 2019 and 2023, according to market research firm Technavio. Interestingly, the construction industry is among those leading the way. DroneDeploy, a mapping software provider, reports that construction industry adoption grew 239% between 2017 and 2018. Experts expect that to continue, citing construction as one of the top industries where they anticipate rising drone use in 2019. Here’s what else is trending:
Novelty no more
Drones may have seemed like a fad a few years ago, but today they’re serious business. Companies are finding new practical applications every day. Forbes predicts expanded use not just in construction, but also in agriculture, insurance, mining and aggregates, public safety, oil and gas, survey engineering, telecommunications and utilities. Supporting that prediction: the number of drone pilots continues to rise — 115,000 were certified by the FAA in 2018 alone — and most of the newcomers work for companies with internal drone programs.
If you think you can’t afford to put a drone to work for your operation, it might be time to rerun the numbers. A couple years ago, the cost of a drone, software and computer package could top $10,000. Today, you can buy a quality drone for as little as $1,000 and get cloud-based software and management for around $100-$300 a month. Turning to a “drones as a service” (DaaS) provider is another option if you’re still hesitant to make the capital investment. That model lets you pay a company to own and operate the drone, then collect and analyze the data for you.
Incidents like the drone attack at London’s Gatwick Airport in December 2018 give the technology a bad name, hampering business owners attempting to use drones for legitimate purposes. Will more regulation be the response? The Uniform Law Commission is working on a privacy measure called “Tort Law Relating to Drones Act” that could allow property owners in the U.S. to create aerial no-fly zones — potentially presenting a real challenge for commercial drone users. There’s also a chance the FAA will propose a new rule in 2019 requiring remote identification for all recreational and commercial drones (known as Drone ID).
More advanced than ever
Drones continue to get smaller, lighter and more technologically advanced. The experts at DroneDeploy predict that machine learning and artificial intelligence will make big inroads in 2019 — simplifying and speeding data analysis, managing some tasks automatically and even delving into the predictive analytics/predictive maintenance space. Drone manufacturers are also taking a page from NASA, applying technologies originally designed for use in space to increase flight times and deliver more robust products that stand up to severe weather.
Does drone technology have the potential to take your operation’s efficiency to new heights? Take a look at how drone data helped this quarry site save time, reduce costs, lower safety risks and improve accuracy compared to ground-level surveys.