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What is this?

A drone is an unmanned aerial vehicle. It is sometimes also referred to as an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). That means it is an aircraft, of any size or type, that flies by itself, without carrying any passengers and without an onboard pilot. It is controlled either autonomously, or via remote control by its pilot.


Why is this trend happening?

Drones are not new but never have they had so much potential. AUVSI’s findings show that through 2025 in the US alone more than 100,000 jobs will be created related to drone centric industries and that the economic impact of technology will be roughly USD 82 billion. A combination of imaging capability, artificial intelligence advances, and battery improvements mean that suddenly drones can be used to attack many different use cases across the public sector and private sector. Aerial technology enabled by drones can potentially transform industries of all types by a combination of optimizing processes, cutting costs and turbo charging innovation by getting new kinds of data.


What are the benefits?

Aside from arguably being a lot more fun than other technologies drones have some clear applications already:

  • Utilities involved in transmissions currently inspect 5% of their power lines on average. Now power lines and pipelines across a country can potentially be inspected to a greater degree at much cheaper cost.
  • Drones have already revolutionized film making and advertising by simply going where cameras could not go before.
  • Precision agriculture is an area where Drones can really contribute to the world and humanity. Aerial pictures help farmers make smarter decisions while AI can use the imagery to augment that process. The potential result? Conservation of water and more yield. Drones can help feed more people with less land.
  • Data from drones can help disaster relief and humanitarian teams plan effective interventions with agility.
  • Urban congestion is an area where drones can help. Their imaging data can not only help with decisions on where to build what, it can also help optimize traffic flows!
  • The moment drones have the ability to deliver packages remotely and successfully the transformation in the logistics and delivery sectors will be profound and world changing.

What are the challenges?

Drones will need to be able to work without human pilots to be fully useful. The one pilot per drone model is not scalable. This means that superior AI and real time connectivity need to be part of the drone ecosystem. There are some instances already of AI on drones learning watching human traffic patterns and navigation data.

Drones also have limited payload capability as well as short flying time. You’re often lucky if you get half an hour out of a typical commercial drone before you need to swap batteries.

Additionally regulation has been severely constricting their potential. They are not allowed in many cities without often hard to get special permits and permissions. Related to this is the fact that security agencies and the general public have security and privacy concerns about drones.


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