The sky above us is already a buzz with drones of all shapes and sizes. Their purpose is as varied as their construction, but one reason stands above all others – data collection. Commercial drones are not only more maneuverable than manned vehicles; they are also usable in infinitely more locations. Where expensive fixed-wing and rotary aircraft were once the gold standard for observing from above, drones now provide the same data collection capacity for a fraction of the cost.
Any industry that requires overhead imaging for data collection can benefit from the introduction of drone technology. The agricultural industry is a very early adopter, with commercial drones used to measure the health and yield of crops. A single drone operator can survey entire fields in the time that it would take someone on foot to view one row of corn. This data allows a farmer to monitor which locations and conditions provide for the highest yield, and therefore the greatest profit.
The mining industry uses commercial drones to search for signs of mineral deposits – and the data collected while searching creates a profile that can be used to determine where they should look next. Aerial imaging and data points plotted against the features of new locations can help map similarities with previous mines, and expedite the pinpointing of mineral deposits.
Government services can use the data collected by drones to better plan their traffic management systems. Commercial drone swarms with on board AI algorithms will network together to provide predictions and suggestions on how to direct traffic during events or emergencies. Weather agencies already use unmanned aerial vehicles to gather data on storms and atmospheric patterns – particularly in locations that would be dangerous or unfeasible for stationary equipment or personnel.
The vast majority of these industries contract out to independent drone companies for this data collection. The process of keeping up to date with regulations and equipment is outside of the scope of their industry. This provides a slew of opportunities to anyone interested in the commercial drone business – and new applications are constantly being found for unmanned aerial services.