Although drones have been about since 1849 (when Austria sent unmanned, bomb-filled balloons to attack Venice), the last few years of drone usage and awareness has significantly increased.
You often see stories about their innovative development in the news or on social media, so its not surprising that they are now being used in a myriad of business applications to be more effective, save time, save money, save on recourses, reduce risk and simply be a more effective business tool moving forward.
It goes without saying that a number of drone enthusiasts and hobbyists have turned their skills into a business opportunity by getting trained to become a professional drone pilot with a PfCO qualification (Permission For Commercial Operation). The number is rising and on the last count was 2427 (number published by the CAA on 7th February 2017 .
The drone revolution is taking a positive effect in many industries and sectors from media to marketing, property to construction and agriculture to oil & gas (to name a few)
Almost daily we read about a new drone innovation that is solving problems for business owners and as more and more businesses and sectors are realizing the benefits of drones, 2017 is expected to see more drone activity then ever.
Lets take a quick look at some of the sectors that ‘flying cameras’ are making a difference
One of the biggest growths of drone usage has been seen in the property / estate agent sector.
Drones are being used by estate agents to capture and showcase properties from a different perspective. There is no doubt that having a bird’s eye view of a property is helping to drive property sales.
More and more estate agents are turning to drones to capture the attention of home buyers.
Those that are using aerial photography and video are for sure keeping up with innovative selling tools and keeping ahead of their competition.
Media & Marketing
TV & Film are using drones as a cheaper alternative to helicopter to capture amazing aerial images. Just take a look at some of the great documentaries out there on main stream channels … without doubt you will see a multitude of different aerial film so look out for them.
Hospitality, Hotels, Caravan Parks, Holiday Parks (to name a few) are using aerial imagery to boast the surroundings they within. As well as these sectors events are using them too to capture breathtaking footage for festivals, sports and other live events.
The use of drones in the UK’s construction industry is starting to embrace new drone technology.
The construction industry is deploying drone technology for a variety of purposes including real time visual mapping, topographical surveys, interactive 3D models, visualisations and creating point clouds.
In many instances drones are making the job safer and more cost effective than traditional surveying / inspection methods.
However only 12%* of construction companies have actually embraced this technology so there is still a long way to go before the message is carried out there to the construction industry of the massive advantages and benefits it carries. (survey carried out by dronesdirect.co.uk – one of the UK’s leading drone retailers)
Energy / Oil & Gas
PfCO qualified, experienced and insured pilots are now using drones to conduct safety inspections of some of the UK’s energy infrastructure which would otherwise have to be turned off to allow human inspections thereby improving safety, saving on time , resources and thus reducing massive costs for customers paying for energy.
Drones are perfectly suited to aerial inspections, bridge inspections, mast inspections, listed buildings, construction sites, solar farms, wind turbines … they all require drone inspections!
The Oil & Gas industry are also cashing in on using ‘collision free drones’ which are drones placed within a small carbon frame and carrying LED lighting. These can be sent into small and confined spaces to inspect the likes of vessels, tanks and small spaces where there is massive risk to humans in being lowered into such confined and awkward spaces to inspect. The time savings are in its own right a massive plus on costs.
Thermal imagery is also used to measure thermal spaces as well as heat mapping.
In the UK, drones are already being used by the police, fire services and for search and rescue missions.
Drones offer police officers a different perspective on policing. There are currently 14 police forces in England and Wales using drones. South Wales Police are one of the latest forces to take advantage of the new technology whilst Cumbria Police embraced the technology 2015.
Police forces are also using drones to help them control protests, crowds and football matches. Also to investigate burglaries and carry out sieges, according to The Times.
Drones will be adopted by UK police forces after a number of senior police officials concluded that they were an efficient alternative to helicopters, police dogs, and even officers themselves.
The telegraph has recently reported that Local councils have started using drones to assess planning applications for building alterations and new buildings.
In total 12 councils had either purchased or hired drones and used them for planning, surveying dangerous buildings and monitoring coastal erosion.
Drones are beginning to revolutionise farming in the UK. From it all happening on the ground it now all happens in the sky.
Drones are part of an agricultural revolution called precision farming. Farmers can deploy drones for all manner of possibilities such as to increase yields and reduce fertiliser/pesticide usage through targeted application based on flight data.
Drones can be used to identify weed types, disease pressures, plant stress, crop damage, nitrogen requirements and most importantly yield potential. Click here to take a look at this BBC One Show clip.
The Environment Agency use drone technology to capture data to monitor areas of potential flood risks. A recent study in the South East of England has emphasised the growing benefit of drones in the environmental industry – when the Environment Agency needed to calculate the amount of shingle on a large beach and bring it back to the desired profile, they chose to use a drone to capture the data and create the measurements.
The results of the study was a real success for the industry; the entire project (from planning stages to product delivery) was completed in just 10 days, and the UK Environment Agency more than halved their survey costs by using drones. This enabled the team to deposit the appropriate amount of shingle where needed and ultimately avoid further erosion and damage to coastal infrastructure.
The use of environmental aerial surveys from drones has proved effective in mapping flood risk for the Environment Agency at the River Mole in Surrey. Drones are an ideal solution when data is required from hard to reach areas such as, in this case, a river channel.
Drones bring a whole new meaning to the possibilities of capturing data & imagery. Elevation modeling for example is a really powerful application. The data captured by using a UAV mounted camera can produce 3D models that make a really engaging tool for communicating information about the landscape.
In conclusion, it is clear that drones have become accepted practice in almost all sectors of the UK’s economy. The above examples are a sample of how drones are positively impacting the way we do business in the UK. It shows that the potential for uses of drones in the UK are vast; more are being developed all the time.
If you would like to know more about how drones can help your business then contact us now … we would be delighted to hear from you