How Drones Have Risen to Prominence and Transformed Market Demand

by August 4, 2020


Understanding how drones market, usability, and demands have risen over the years

 The fictional world of movies is already dotted with swarms of drones in skies. However, in real life, we are far from achieving this as our everyday reality. This brings us to the question: are drones here to stay, or are they a part of another urban hype. Irrespective of what the future may hold, at present, these autonomous vehicles also are instrumental in bringing the fourth industrial revolution. According to a PWC report titled Building Trust in Drones, the research reveals that nearly 31 percent of the UK public feel positive towards drone technology, while in businesses, it rises to 56 percent. The firm is confident that through education, public and business trust can be won, and attitudes towards drones can be changed. According to the EU, the market will have a €100,000M value in Europe by 2025.

Things were not this promising when the drones first hit the uncharted territory of the sky. The historical accounts cite that they were mainly used for military and warfare causes. Fortunately, this changed with time, and currently owing to their ability to reach inaccessible places; drones are used for the benefit of humankind. These include search and rescue operations, delivery, traffic monitoring, agricultural mapping and surveying, firefighting, and so on.


Drone: An Introduction

So what is a drone? In layman’s words, it is an unmanned aerial vehicle or UAV, which can be thought of as a flying robot. It is controlled remotely or may fly on its own (autonomously) using software-controlled flight plans which are embedded in their systems like GPS and sensors. Drones are equipped with dual Global Navigational Satellite Systems or GNSS, which includes GPS and GLONASS. They can also fly in non-satellite modes. Other location features like radar positioning help in accurate drone navigation and also display the current position of the drone in relation to the controller, whereas the Return to Home feature guides the drone back to the controller. Its gyroscope stabilization technology facilitates smooth flight and obstacle detection, and collision avoidance technology ensures safety. Additionally, the gyroscope can provide important navigational data to the central flight controller.


Drones: Reasons behind Growing Demands

Though high costs and technical limitations have hindered its widespread use, now drones are the most preferred asset when it comes to the provision of scanned imagery. Earlier, we relied on satellite images, but now continual dependence for everyday purpose is not possible due to several limitations concerning cost, data sharing, and time. In contrast, drones provide real-time, high-resolution imagery data with far more accurate details and minimal instances of poor image clarity. Now, even the common man can own them thanks to the dwindling costs of miniaturized sensors. Plus, it has also helped in quick decision making with lesser visits to the site areas. Even the advancement in sensors has primary impacts in terms of data quality and automation. Besides, today’s drones, which run on AI and machine learning, have enabled it to maintain a consistent distance from a structure or the ground to aid automated flights and improved measurement precision.


Applications of Drone

Let us see some of the popular use cases of drones.

• Healthcare: California-based Zipline, delivers vaccines and medications using a series of drone distribution centers in Ghana for the country’s population 24 hours a day.

• Real Estate: By capturing pictures of high-value properties, drones can upend the real estate industry. Zaw Studios, a media company, based outside of Los Angeles, uses drones to capture immersive 360-degree photographs and videos within large homes. The finished product offers potential buyers with a perspective that mimics a physical walk-through.

• Wildlife and Forest Conservation: They can assist in tracking illegal activities, monitor animals, count their population, plan reforestation, and take exotic images and more. Further, they help in assessing forest health, encroachments, tree-felling, forest fires, poaching, and the status of water bodies, biodiversity protection, and mangrove conservation. E.g., NETRA Pro UAV, eBee X, SnotBot,Air Shepherd

• Energy: SunPoweris using drones to improve solar farms. SkySpecs, a startup company, uses these UAVs to perform inspections of wind turbines, which used to take hours in just minutes.

• Weather Forecasting: Meteorology drones can gather and supply real-time weather data, help meteorologists to predict weather conditions for the coming days or weeks, and issue early storm warnings. E.g.,  Saildrone‘s autonomous sailboat can collect oceanic and atmospheric data from the ocean surface.

• Insurance: These forms of UAVs can cover more ground while traversing areas and angles than is challenging for a human insurance inspector. DroneBase, a CA-based company, uses drones to offer aerial surveying of building rooftops to give insurance companies an easy way to assess damage related to claims.

• Internet: They can be used to provide low-cost internet services to remote areas. The most famous example is Facebook’s solar-powered drone, Aquila.

• Agriculture and reforestation: Through drones, agricultural workers can gather data, automate redundant processes, and improve efficiency. Raptor Maps use drones to help farmers better predict their potential harvest. Startup company Biocarbon Engineering used drones to plant mangrove saplings in the south of Yangon.

Other than the above applications, drones are also used for spraying pesticides (DJI), emergency response, search and rescue, mining, firefighting, an airborne inspection of oil pipelines, urban planning, entertainment, travel, and tourism construction, delivery of goods and many more.


What can be done?

While regulations are necessary, they can pose a roadblock for the drones’ future scope. Just by raising the height restriction to few meters, drones can help farmers double the inspection areas at a lower cost and give better benefits.  While currently Beyond Visual Line of Sight and at night operation of UAV drone is allowed, much needs to be done about regulations that can alleviate the daily uses of drones. It is because of flexible rules, China, and the US are currently leading this market.