The conversation around drones has shifted. In its earlier days the media hype was focused on deliveries. (It still is a topic of great interest. Only a few weeks ago it was reported that a patent for delivery labels with parachutes¹had been filed, the intention presumably being that delivery items would be dropped from, rather than landed by, drones.)
Now though, drones are in regular employment for another purpose: data gathering. One of the most powerful current applications of drones is in collecting information for industries such as infrastructure or agriculture.
Precision agriculture is the practice of observing and measuring crop behavior. Traditionally this may have been carried out by helicopter or plane, making it a costly and cumbersome exercise. Drones are particularly effective in this role, driving a growing market.
Similarly, infrastructure is an industry that stands to benefit: according to PwC’s Clarity from Above report, the value of prospective drone applications in global infrastructure projects is estimated to be US$45.2 billion².
Particularly, sectors such as roads or railways are more likely to immediately benefit from the use of drone technology. Here, companies operate extensive networks of complex infrastructure distributed over vast areas, generating high costs in monitoring and maintenance. Able to acquire data on construction sites and during regular maintenance and inventory check-ups, drone-powered solutions can be faster, more cost-effective, and safer than traditional methods.