Droids, androids,… Drones!
I was recently trying to explain the concept of drones and why they could be useful to my 65-year-old mother. She kept referring to them as droids throughout the conversation and even went as far as asking me whether they had anything in common with her Android smartphone.
So, for the record, droids are mechanical beings that possess artificial intelligence, often used in situations too dangerous for other species. Android is a mobile, Linux-based operating system, developed by Google.
And drones, which is what we’re really interested in at the moment, are unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), also known as flying robots or electric buzzards at times.
Why do we need drones?
For one, they can go anywhere, they are battery-powered, relatively independent and have become increasingly inexpensive to operate and maintain. They can replace the need for larger, more complex machinery or humans in performing certain jobs.
The early drone days
In the early days of drones, the robotic birds were expensive to produce, difficult to use and control. Crashing them was a common occurrence, much to the chagrin of their owners and operators, though, they weren’t that useful to us then.
The first real-world applications starter drone models saw were in surveillance, search and rescue operations and aerial photography. Recent tech advancements and cost reductions have made drones more accessible than ever before and created new opportunities for the industry and its prospects.
Useful drone features
Depending on the model and level of sophistication and integrations of the drone in question, its ability to perform various tasks can vary widely. In order for any drone to be used as more than a fancy toy, it needs to be adapted with sensors, video cameras and geospatial hardware. The geospatial data and/or video material from those components, in turn, needs to be effectively transmitted via algorithms and protocols to back-end systems who can then process and make sense of it. Like with any system of this sort, decisions, based on hard data, are the desired final effect.
The drone revolution
Today, much more than annoying people at concerts, beaches and outdoor weddings, drones are gradually disrupting many sectors, reinventing traditional business operations and even creating brand new opportunities to do things more quickly, efficiently, and inexpensively.
To be fair, it is not the mere existences of drone machines that is reinventing businesses; rather it is the smart integration of drones, sensors and software that make these entire IoT systems highly useful in a number of scenarios.
Legislative progress and the sky ahead
According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agency, drone adoption has been growing rapidly in the past few years and will continue to do so well beyond 2020. New, streamlined regulations outline the process to legally operate commercial drones, and make it easier to envision new uses for them, further expanding drone operations. The most significant recent change is perhaps the fact that operating commercial drones no longer requires a pilot’s license.
Software startup DroneDeploy created a platform that uses drones to create 2D and 3D map models from a bird’s eye view. The main prospects for such a service include sectors like agriculture, urban planning, construction, even archaeology and natural disaster recovery. In the words of CEO and co-founder Mike Winn, “Flying is just the beginning.”
Drones as a service
Drones-as-a-Service (DaaS) is a unique business model pioneered by the company Measure.
According to their website, Measure can provide your business with the critical data it needs to strengthen operations, reduce risk and costs, increase productivity, and protect workers. Its done service solutions leverage the latest hardware and software to help you succeed.
As we gear up towards a drone-powered economy, building your own and taking advantage of unmanned operations still carries a significant advantage over slower-adopting competitors.
Drones and the future of IoT
Farmers are one audience that can benefit from drones in several ways, from monitoring crops, sensing and preventing unfavourable meteorological conditions to protecting yields from predators and pests. Beyond farming, the areas of opportunity for drones are vast and constantly expanding as drone technology becomes more advanced and legislation – more enabling.
In 2016 Amazon completed their first unmanned parcel delivery using a drone. Following this, they created Prime Air – a new system designed to safely pick up customer packages in less than 30 minutes using UAVs. These bold actions prompted logistics providers worldwide to begin investigating how their businesses could benefit from drone adoption with the aim of improving delivery speeds, customer satisfaction and last but not least – their bottom lines.
Copywriter: Ina Danova