As 2020 begins, thoughts inevitably
drift towards what the year ahead holds. For many of us that means well-meaning
new year’s resolutions, but technology experts are once again seeking to
pinpoint emerging trends and over the next 12 months, we could see the most
transformative technology taking shape in the skies above us.
There are huge potential benefits to
be had from emerging drone technology and if we get it right, we could soon
have drones delivering medical supplies to people in our most congested cities
and harder to reach communities. Drones can also monitor and respond to traffic
accidents, track animals, monitor crops, watch for poachers and provide aid
when natural disasters strike. The potential benefits are huge.
All of this explains why the global
civil aerial drone market is expected to almost triple over the coming decade,
to £11.4bn in 2028. But to make the most of the new technology in the UK, we
first need to deal with questions and concerns about irresponsible and illegal
Most drones are currently controlled
via hand-held radio transmitter with flights restricted to the radius of radio
signal reception, meaning that they have to fly within visual line of sight of
the pilot. But as Vodafone argues in our new report to be published next week,
there are huge gains to be had from drones that are able to fly safely ‘beyond
visual line of sight’; something that is possible via the safer and more secure
alternative of cellular-connected drones with an inbuilt SIM card connecting
them to a mobile network.
Only with a cellular connected drone
is it possible to track and control the device so that it can be flown safely
and securely from some distance away. Cellular connection can provide further
benefits as a complementary system for verifying location and the ability to
have dynamic no-fly zones which can provide significant security benefits.
Understandably, it is this type of
drone use that the public wants to see more of. While rogue operators have
previously attracted negative headlines from incidents such as at Gatwick
Airport in 2018, polling shows that the vast majority of the public would
support the more widespread adoption of drones if there was a mechanism to
provide increased safety, security and monitoring. For example, 92% of people
support drone use for tacking fires and natural disaster relief.
To ensure the UK moves in the right
direction on drones, the Government should recognise and analyse the
substantial benefits that can come from cellular-connected drone use. It is
only by pushing forward with the development of these drones that the UK can
fully benefit from the use of the new technology, whilst ensuring they are
flown safely and securely.
Across the world, organisations are
waking up to the benefits of responsible drone usage. Here in the UK, the
London Fire Brigade has been trialling the use of drones to improve safety for
their firefighters and to allow more accurate responses to incidents.
Firefighters also used drones to tackle the giant blazes during Paris’s recent
Notre Dame cathedral fire. By doing so, they were able to make tactical choices
to stop the fire at the time when it was potentially occupying the two belfries
of the cathedral.
Further afield, drones fitted with
high definition thermal cameras are increasingly used to track, inspect and
monitor livestock remotely. The government of Assam in India partnered with
Tata Consulting Services to use drones to conduct surveillance, identify
unauthorized settlements and deter poachers in Kaziranga National Park. With
drones spread over 480 square kilometres, they can now identify poachers from
their heat signatures even if they are hiding in thick foliage. Already, this
effort has proved beneficial for the vulnerable one-horned rhino.
If we get it right, then it is not
just our emergency services and endangered species that will benefit. The
economic prize for the UK could also be enormous. By 2030, it is estimated that
there will be 76,000 drones in the skies above the UK and 628,000 jobs in the
UK drones economy. Drones are also expected to contribute to considerable GDP
uplifts in many industries, including £8.6bn in construction and manufacturing,
£7.7bn in wholesale, retail trade and food services and £11.4bn in the public
All the signs are that, in the next
few years, responsible use of drones is set to bring huge gains for the economy
and society. The UK is ready to reap the benefits of cellular-connected drones
technology and if we do then 2020 could be the year that drone technology truly
Drones aren’t new technology by any means. Now, however, thanks to new software and better understanding by industries-it seems their time has now arrived.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)—better known as drones—have been used
commercially since the early 1980s. Today, however, practical applications for
drones are expanding faster than ever in a variety of industries, thanks to
robust investments and the relaxing of some regulations governing their use.
Responding to the rapidly evolving technology, companies are creating new
business and operating models for UAVs.
The total addressable value of drone-powered solutions in all applicable
industries is significant—more than $127 billion, according to a recent PwC analysis. Among the most promising areas is
agriculture, where drones offer the potential for addressing several major
challenges. With the world’s population projected to reach 9 billion people by
2050, experts expect agricultural consumption to increase by nearly 70 percent
over the same time period. In addition, extreme weather events are on the rise,
creating additional obstacles to productivity.
Agricultural producers must embrace revolutionary strategies for
producing food, increasing productivity, and making sustainability a priority.
Drones are part of the solution, along with closer collaboration between
governments, technology leaders, and industry.
Use Cases for Agricultural
Drone technology will give the agriculture industry a high-technology
makeover, with planning and strategy based on real-time data gathering and
processing. PwC estimates the market for drone-powered solutions in agriculture
at $32.4 billion. Following are six ways aerial and ground-based drones will be
used throughout the crop cycle:
1. Soil and field analysis: Drones can be instrumental at the start
of the crop cycle. They produce precise 3-D maps for early soil analysis,
useful in planning seed planting patterns. After planting, drone-driven soil
analysis provides data for irrigation and nitrogen-level management.
2. Planting: Startups have created drone-planting systems that
achieve an uptake rate of 75 percent and decrease planting costs by 85 percent.
These systems shoot pods with seeds and plant nutrients into the soil,
providing the plant all the nutrients necessary to sustain life.
3. Crop spraying: Distance-measuring equipment—ultrasonic
echoing and lasers such as those used in the light-detection and ranging, or
LiDAR, method—enables a drone to adjust altitude as the topography and geography
vary, and thus avoid collisions. Consequently, drones can scan the ground and
spray the correct amount of liquid, modulating distance from the ground and
spraying in real time for even coverage. The result: increased efficiency with
a reduction of in the amount of chemicals penetrating into groundwater. In
fact, experts estimate that aerial spraying can be completed up to five times
faster with drones than with traditional machinery.
4. Crop monitoring: Vast fields and low efficiency in crop
monitoring together create farming’s largest obstacle. Monitoring challenges
are exacerbated by increasingly unpredictable weather conditions, which drive
risk and field maintenance costs. Previously, satellite imagery offered the
most advanced form of monitoring. But there were drawbacks. Images had to be
ordered in advance, could be taken only once a day, and were imprecise.
Further, services were extremely costly and the images’ quality typically
suffered on certain days. Today, time-series animations can show the precise
development of a crop and reveal production inefficiencies, enabling better
5. Irrigation: Drones with hyper-spectral, multi-spectral, or thermal sensors can identify which parts of a field are dry or need improvements. Additionally, once the crop is growing, drones allow the calculation of the vegetation index, which describes the relative density and health of the crop, and show the heat signature, the amount of energy or heat the crop emits.
6. Health assessment: It’s essential to assess crop health
and spot bacterial or fungal infections on trees. By scanning a crop using both
visible and near-infrared light, drone-carried devices can identify which
plants reflect different amounts of green light and NIR light. This information
can produce multispectral images that track changes in plants and indicate
their health. A speedy response can save an entire orchard. In addition, as
soon as a sickness is discovered, farmers can apply and monitor remedies more
precisely. These two possibilities increase a plant’s ability to overcome
disease. And in the case of crop failure, the farmer will be able to document
losses more efficiently for insurance claims.
As the weather starts to turn and the rain starts to pour
older properties and historic buildings certainly start to bear the brunt of
the bad weather, pre-existing conditions can become a little more serious as
the weather takes its toll.
Historically these types of structures pose several access
issues and whilst traditional methods have been timely and expensive whilst
considering the business interruption of the business in question and potentially
It’s no wonder many businesses are turning to new ways of
managing their property portfolio and opting to deploy drone technology as they
offer a faster and more efficient way of inspecting inaccessible structures.
With data collection on site within a matter of hours and costs savings of up
to 55% vs traditional methods the ROI is quite compelling.
Iprosurv have been assisting many of our clients with
property risk management, enabling annual maintenance of historic, old and high
net worth clients to be completed with lessened challenges, reduced costs
whilst assisting with targeted scheduled maintenance. By deploying drone
technology with advanced software solutions, we deliver digital inspections models
of the asset, with our bespoke 3D interactive estate managers can integrate and
investigate the structure and assess the state of repair of their asset.
If your looking to reduce annual property maintenance spend
or wish to explore our digital inspection services please get in touch with