Drones, also referred to as Flying Mini Robots, Miniature Pilotless Aircraft or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are becoming more and more popular over time. While their use is not yet widespread, they have become an integral part of the operations of a number of government organisations and businesses. They are very versatile and can be used for various purposes including making deliveries and scanning places that would be otherwise unreachable such as some military bases.
Businesses benefit from them because of their speed and accuracy. For instance, when making deliveries to customers, there is no time wasted in traffic or trying to find the location of the customer. They also increase productivity and work efficiency, and help businesses save on the costs of operation among other benefits. Just like most other technological inventions, drone technology started out as a fad but that quickly changed as more businesses realised the immense potential of the technology.
Drones can either be controlled via a smartphone app or by a remote. They require very little energy, time and effort to operate and the manpower needed to control them is minimal. The 4 main sectors where their use is quickly gaining popularity are commercial, future technology, personal and military.
Uses of drone technology
While drones only started gaining popularity in the late 1990s, there are records showing that France and the U.S. attempted to develop automatic airplanes which would require no human control during the First World War. Below are some of their uses today:
- Carrying out safety inspections on buildings, wind turbines, gas pipelines, power lines, bridges
- Aerial photography, filming and journalism
- Making deliveries to customers or to disaster-stricken areas
- Gathering information from disaster-stricken areas
- Precision agriculture
- Weather forecasting
- Some have thermal sensors and are used for rescue operations
- Border surveillance
- Cargo transport
- Geographic mapping
Given the growing popularity of drone technology, their uses are bound to extend to many other industries soon.
Today, the primary use of drones is in the military sector and this is where most money is spent on the technology. A recent Goldman Sachs report says that drone spending over the next 3 years is expected to be $70 billion. Some of the military uses of drone technology include supervision, R&D, and in combat missions. Their popularity in the military is due to their speed and accuracy and also due to the fact that less people are put in harm’s way.
While commercial use of drone technology is still not as popular as military use, it is expected to grow at 19% per annum up to 2020. This is far much higher than the expected annual growth in military use of drone technology, which is 5% per annum. The main investors in commercial drone technology are chip companies, industrial conglomerates, and digital consulting firms in North America, Asia and Europe.
Despite the few drone accidents that have happened in the past, the use of drones by civilians is also expected to grow. In the U.S. alone, sales in the next year are expected to reach 2.8 million drones, with revenue from these sales almost hitting $1 billion. As the market for civilian drones grows, manufacturers are working to make them safer to reduce the incidence of drone accidents.
The future of drone technology
As drones get cheaper to manufacture, their prices are also bound to continue decreasing and more and more businesses will be able to customise them for various uses including traffic monitoring among other uses. The investment industry may also benefit from the growth of the commercial UAV industry, so online investment sites like CMC Markets stand to gain a lot. Within less than a decade, the commercial UAV industry could be worth over $80 billion and could lead to the creation of more than 100,000 job opportunities in the U.S. alone. This will be a big boost to the country’s economy and to the global economy as well.
It is clear that drone technology is a worthwhile investment, whether for personal use, commercial use or military use. Their benefits are immense and with the rapid advancements in the industry, they are only bound to get better. While the regulations on the manufacture and use of drones are still very limiting in many aspects, the growing popularity of drone technology may just lead to them being loosened and open up new opportunities for growth in the industry.