By Nick Ismail
The drone industry has come on leaps and bounds since their inception in the early 1900s and they are now proving crucial to global industries; from Hollywood to the military and even construction
The evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), more commonly known as drones, is developing at a rapid pace. Not only is the technology progressing, but regulations are being adapted to encourage wider adoption.
With the new FAA Part 107 Rules in the USA, users no longer need to have a commercial pilot license to operate a drone and in the UK, the National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) is laying the foundation for drones to fly beyond their operators’ line of sight – due to the development of new technology that can track small unmanned devices at low altitude.
The release of applications is also starting to complement a wider variety of industries, inspiring further implementation. UAVs have come a long way since the Kettering Bug, a drone developed during the First World War.
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Today, they are being used to monitor climate change, gather information following natural disasters and on search and rescue missions in challenging terrain. According to Gartner, 2016 saw 110,000 drones sold for commercial use alone. That figure rose to 174,000 last year and the number of consumer drones to 2.8 million. The industry is undeniably growing.
The most exciting part of this growth is how drones are allowing businesses to explore in new ways, look at landscapes from a different perspective and capture data. For example, a 100-acre construction site can be visually captured by a pre-programmed drone in 10 minutes. Compare this to traditional methods, where a manual survey would have taken a team the best part of a month to complete, and the benefits of drones start to become clear to see.
Understanding barriers to construction can take months to identify through manual surveying, wasting considerable resource in the process and delaying project completion. And, not only are drones proving to cut time and costs, they are also offering businesses a safer way to operate.
Despite the drone being around since the early 1900s, the technology has only just started to lend itself more strategically in the last two decades. Since then, technologies for drones have developed and grown exponentially and simple capabilities – such as controlling a camera and satellite navigation – are now seen as standard.
This rapid development and the fact that the pace is showing no signs of slowing down, indicates drones have the potential to become fully autonomous agents in the digital workforce of the future. In fact, Skydio’s recent reveal of the R1, proves just that. The reality of driverless cars is just around the corner, so this statement is not at all far-fetched.