Drone trends: An evolving business landscape for a former hobby: Drones continued its shift from hobbyist fascination to sophisticated technology last year in a big way, enjoying widespread adoption across an array of consumer industries from pizza delivery and real-estate photography to (of course) the security and surveillance industries.
Be that as it may, the drone revolution has barely begun, and the unmanned craft’s potential for growth is soaring. According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the drone industry is set to grow to US$127 billion by 2020 as the little crafts’ use and ability grows.
“I think we’ve already had a taste of some of the potential here,” said Cameron Chell, co-founder of DraganFly Innovations, a drone developer. “Last year, you had drones doing everything from delivering emergency relief supplies to flood and hurricane victims in Texas, Puerto Rico and Florida to surveying disaster areas from above for agencies like the National Guard.” Cameron Chell adds, “And their capacity is rapidly increasing — their range is growing, their ability to navigate in adverse conditions is constantly improving. It seems clear we’ve barely started to explore the potential.”
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Along with Artificial Intelligence, drones are rapidly evolving.
For one thing, drones are quickly moving to Beyond Visible Line of Sight (BVLS) utility, meaning the pilot will no longer have to be able to see the drone to pilot it. Until very recently, this was a military-level capability, but it’s now appearing in the consumer market. Also, drones have typically been used to gather data, like photos or video, that it then has to return to its user to deliver. Increasingly, drones’ data capabilities are making remote transmission more and more possible, meaning the user can track the data the drone collects in real time.
All this innovation has a downside too, of course.
Criminals are well-known to have embraced drone technology to deliver anything from drugs to illegal weapons, sometimes across international borders; and an old problem, of neighbours illicitly spying on one another, just won’t go away. It all likely means increased regulations for the drone industry, a step that the UK has already taken.
But legitimate uses, be they life-saving or simply commercially driven, continue to blossom. The expanding field of “Drones as a service” (DaaS) is poised for significant growth, says Brandon Torres Declet, CEO of DaaS company Measure. While the craft may have proved their worth doing anything from inspecting cell towers to shooting aerial footage for media companies, launching a fleet, complete with pilots, is no small endeavor.
“It’s not as easy as buying a drone from Amazon,” Torres Declet told Business News Daily. “Bigger companies … also have to figure out how to scale that, which becomes challenging and difficult as well.”
That’s where DaaS companies come in. With a drone fleet and a skilled corps of pilots, drones are quickly moving from quirky passtime to the business world big leagues.