2020 could be the year that drones take off

2020 could be the year that drones take off

Guest blog by Scott Petty, Chief Technology Officer, UK at Vodafone

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 drone usage.

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 sector.

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 takes off.

Posted in Drone Tech, General Interest, Information

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Drones Are Revolutionizing Agriculture

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 Drones

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 crop management.

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.

Credits PwC analysis

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Historic Buildings Inspections

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 surrounding businesses.

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 Iprosurv.

Posted in Drone Tech, General Interest, Information, Iprosurv News

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https://iprosurv.com/2020/01/22/2020-could-be-the-year-that-drones-take-off/2020 could be the year that drones take off

https://iprosurv.com/2020/01/02/drones-are-revolutionizing-agriculture/Drones Are Revolutionizing Agriculture

https://iprosurv.com/2019/11/07/historic-buildings-inspections/Historic Buildings Inspections