As a child I had a recurring dream that I was flying above the trees, enjoying a birds-eye view of the land below. I remember though it didn't feel like I was a bird or on an airplane. I now think perhaps I was a little ahead of my time, I was dreaming of drones. The dream has just begun, and there are smart people out there inventing not only new drones with all the latest technology has to offer, but incredible ways to make the drone more than a military tool or a fun Christmas present for the teenager in the family. We already see an abundance of creative ideas in train and a great potential for the application of drones yet to be thought of and designed.
A simple online search delivers a lot by way of negatives, security threats, narrow misses of other aircraft, people being hurt by drones out of control, insurance claims and so on. The challenges of privacy, ethics and cost are many, but the growing list of positive ways to use drones is stimulating growth in the drone market. Research by firm MarketsandMarkets, predicts the global UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) drones market is expected to be USD 21.23 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 19.99% between 2016 and 2022, the largest share being that of the consumer market. And as the rules around use of drones are being relaxed in many countries, the drone is becoming more sophisticated, with applications not only as a leisure tool but a business tool as well.
There are not many industries that don’t appear to be looking at how to leverage the drone. In agriculture, field analysis for the purpose of enhancing crop health is just one of many applications. In construction, project managers can utilize drone maps to assess where a project is up to and how to manage workforce and materials moving forward. Amazon is looking at using UAV technology, they have recently been granted a patent for a shipping label with a built-in parachute, designed for drone deliveries.
Sports and leisure is also a natural fit for the use of UAV technology. Today drone photography and videography are popular and producing inspiring images. There are also some very practical ways to use drones to enhance sports by way of assisting in training, analysis of field conditions, and broadcasting. And for the thrill seekers, the potential for drone surfing, drone-assisted sky diving, and drone racing, will take the extreme sports industry to another level.
Beyond the use of the drone in industry, I really admire the ideas presented in a recent Mashable article that shows how drones can act as humanitarian aid, protect endangered species, and deliver emergency organ and blood supply. Emergency services can leverage drones for on-scene data collection and post event evaluation for emergency and life-threatening efforts.
Be on the side of drones being a good thing or not, the reality is they are here, and their future in the air is inevitable. I say, let the dreamers dream, and the exciting future of the drone will produce an abundance of new ideas and applications. Fly high.