These days, it’s pretty hard to ignore drones. What’s started as a tiny hobby with few commercial applications has exploded, and now we’re seeing more and more unmanned aerial vehicles in every industry and business niche you can name. Aside from the well-documented military applications of drones, they’re now being used on construction sites, film sets, and archaeological digs. If Amazon gets their way, we’ll be seeing them on our doorsteps any day now as well! Here are just a few of the fascinating ways that drones are changing business.
Deliveries and Logistics
If there’s one tech story that everyone’s been talking about in the last two years, it’s Amazon’s plans to start running deliveries by drone. When the Amazon Prime Air prototype drone was unveiled in 2014, the company announced that the operational drones would be made for packages weighing up to five pounds. This would make over 80% of the company’s current orders eligible for delivery by drone. While the Amazon Prime Air project is still in its R&D phases, all the company’s media is optimistic. Soon enough, we may be living in a world where drones overtake delivery trucks!
Communication and Tours
This one’s particularly exciting to me. Having a little, aerial robot hovering around you, showing you from place to place or delivering a call with someone sounds like science fiction. However, this is just one more amazing application for drones which is set to become commonplace in the next few years. Pretty soon, bright-eyed campus tour guides at MIT may be replaced by drones, thanks to the institute’s own Senseable City Laboratory, an initiative dedicated to researching mobile technology, sensors, and now UAVs. Recently, the institute released a video of their SkyCall quadcopter prototype, which has been designed specifically to guide new students around MIT’s maze-like campus. Again, this niche is in its infancy, but there’s certainly a lot of interest.
Though many people didn’t see it coming, drones have initiated many big changes in the construction industry. While consumer applications are taking baby steps, UAVs are already performing important tasks on construction sites all over the world. Aside from the obvious applications of surveillance and safety monitoring, construction site drones are also being used to survey land, transport small materials and components, communication and improved infrastructure. When combined with 3D mapping technology, drones are also being used to keep foremen and construction teams informed on how projects are coming along, and any potential problems that may have to be tackled. The drone industry owes construction a lot, and more applications are always being theorized and developed.
Since drones have had their boom in popularity, they’ve totally changed the way that many people think about aerial photography. If a business or individual wanted impressive aerial shots of a certain place a few years ago, they would need to fork out a pretty substantial amount of money to hire a professional aerial photography service. As you can imagine, refueling a helicopter costs a lot more than charging a drone! Various businesses such as Sensefly are making a killing building drones that are specifically designed for aerial photography. There are many industries which have been taking advantage of how accessible good aerial photography is these days, but one niche where it’s seen a surprising amount of popularity has been archaeological digs. Archaeologists have been using these kinds of drones in places like Lima to take high-resolution publicity photographs and create 3D models of their dig sites.
A slight step up from aerial photography, drones are slowly carving out a niche as a common piece of film equipment. Firms such as Aerial Media Pros have been designing larger models of UAV, capable of carrying heavy-duty cameras such as the Red Epics used by Peter Jackson in the filming of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Like aerial photography, this allows directors and cinematographers to capture sweeping aerial shots at a fraction of the price they’d usually have to cover. Aside from that, because of the smaller size of a drone, and the increased accuracy in their flight patterns, filmmakers are now able to accomplish countless experimental shots which simply couldn’t be done with helicopters or cranes. The next time you’re at the cinema, see if you can pick out anything that simply had to have been filmed using a drone.
There you have just a handful of the industries that drones are changing dramatically. The fact that drones are still in their infancy as a piece of tech makes this phenomenon even more exciting!