PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) coined the term ‘Clarity from above’ in its 2016 report on commercial drone use leading to 2021.
Their report sought to quantify the revenue impact of drones on business by examining the commercial applications of this technology across industry sectors. In this case, it was not directly about the drones themselves, rather the broader application of drone technologies in existing business processes and the creation of new business and operating models because of drone technology.
According to the PwC study, the emerging global market for business services using drones will be valued at over $US127 bn by 2021! A figure of absolutely mind-boggling size, this is where PwC believe the value of business services and labour is likely to be replaced over the next few years by drone powered solutions.
So what industries are primed for drone growth?
Those with the (seemingly) best prospects for exponential growth include infrastructure, agriculture and transport. These alone are estimated to create revenue of more than $US100 bn!
Breaking down by industry, the report sees the the following industries emerging.
Analysis of soils and drainage
Crop health assessment
Delivery of goods
Monitoring lines and sites
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Support in claims
Environmental impact assessment
A GREAT deal more than a flying gadget!
While it is difficult to accurately predict drone scope and industry emergence, experts have noted numerous applications that are likely to blossom over coming years. Let’s look at three of these related to construction.
Building information modelling (BIM)
For the uninitiated, BIM methodology is the process of generating and managing the data of a building throughout its life cycle. To do this, dynamic modeling software is required that adds project dimensions including geometry, spatial relationships, quantities and properties of components.
The high-quality and indeed rapid geospatial data that can be collected by a drone on a construction site now offers a completely new and remarkable level of engineering information – and when integrated with BIM methodology – has the potential to be industry disruptive and transform the operational models of construction companies.
Automated learning software uses algorithms that learn how to solve complex tasks using a process similar to that of a human brain – well, similar anyway…
By applying this software to drones, it is possible to decrease the time and cost for processing and analysing data collected during inspections.
Today, with drones capable of autonomous flights – in the near future they will be able to fly (autonomously) to predetermined points and secure and analyse data on, for example, damaged or suspicious activity, and inform operators in timely fashion.
Drones as (actual) construction equipment
Yes, hard to believe but in the immediate future, it is predicted drones will fly autonomously and carry out risky tasks in small-scale construction or repair work.
This may include moving materials, assembling items and welding and fastening parts – and all faster than humans and without the inherent risk.
Indeed, a recent aerial robotic construction trial was conducted with great success. Drones were able to build a rope bridge using an autonomous swarm of drones capable of crossing various types of obstacles.
So a passing industry fancy?
We don’t think so! When organisations such as tech and retail giants like Amazon, Facebook, Wal-Mart, and Google begin to invest heavily in drone technology, you know it’s not going away in a hurry!
Obstacles to future growth
Of course it can’t be all plain sailing (or flying as the case may be). Potentially, the biggest obstacle facing drone growth is government regulation. While government regulation has eased in countries across the world over past years – based of safe and successful drone use, it remains a stumbling block to those who are pushing drone advancement.
In Australia, we are bound by the requirements and regulations of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA). This noted, these regulations are not in place for punitive reasons, but for safety and as drone professionals, we must work within these regulatory frameworks to achieve better and safer outcomes.
If you are new to drone technology, we highly recommend you speak to a drone specialist that can advise you on both drone options and the best approach to your application.
Sphere Drones is arguably Australia’s leading source of expertise on commercial drones, drone accessories and commercial solutions in Australia.
Their Sydney-based facility is state-of-the-art and they have some the industry’s leading personnel – making it (or their website) a logical first stop to identify a solution for your needs.
It is also a solutions development facility where they can create proof of concept for your application and develop the perfect solution to meet your needs.