Drones are no longer just seen as a tool of the military or a toy that people use to fly around. They’re becoming accepted as a tool that businesses can deploy, and every day more and more companies are being created to build drone prototypes and software to help them fly, detect obstacles and make sense of terabytes of data they collect. This is the golden age of drones, and it is just taking off.
Take consumer perception — “drone” is a household word. Just look at the Google Trends for the word “drones” or “DJI.” Check out the number of drone videos on YouTube (~827,000). According to Frost and Sullivan, an aerospace research firm, over 200,000 drones were sold each month in 2014. Parrot, a french drone maker, reported sales of over $47 million in drones in 2013.
Whether we like it or not, we are going to be seeing more drones in the sky and on the news, and they will get cheaper, faster and more reliable. Here, I want to go into some reasons why I think drones are not just a fad but are here to stay.
The Trend of Drones in Industry
While still not commonplace, drones are beginning to appear in many different industry settings, where their ease of use and huge costs savings over traditional methods, it makes it a no brainer for companies.
Construction companies are not always first movers when it comes to new technology, but when it comes to drones, they have really taken a liking to them. Companies like Bouygues, Balfour Beatty and Webcor are using drones to map construction sites. They are employing drones made by Skycatch, which recently made a deal with Japan’s Komatsu to enable driverless bulldozers to take instructions from unmanned drones.
You may not have known it, but you’ve probably already seen a lot of footage taken by drones on TV. Big brands like Walmart, BMW and Nike have taken videos using drones. Video production companies have been very quick to use drones to get difficult-to-reach shots. Modern drones now use steady-cam like gimbals to make videos look super smooth. As drones get more sophisticated, expect to see more drone-made movies.
Farmers are increasingly using drones to monitor crop health and gauge growth patterns. This is a job well-suited to drones, as previously helicopters would have had to do this job, at great expense.
Companies like Precision Hawk are developing software and hardware that automatically measures the height of crops and detect weeds, and they can even count plants. These kinds of drones are using fixed wings, which mean they can stay in the air for much longer, and capture a lot more data than a DJI-like quadcopter. Jay Bregman, the former CEO of Hailo, is developing verified database of drones, that will allow people to know where you can and cannot fly a drone.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com