It’s that time of the year. The time where we search and marvel over top industry trends. Still, one thing is for certain. Drone applications in industries have been growing year-on-year, and this year too, drones would ensure that the efficiency charts keep rising.
It’s not a ‘trend’ as it is a long time coming. We have been predicting this for the past 20 years: “Small and micro drones would be a fairly regular occurrence in 2020”. Our futuristic flicks were riding on that bet for a long time. And now it’s time for them to say, ‘I told you so!’.
25.2% CAGR, that’s the projected growth rate for commercial drones in between 2016 and 2022 ($10.28 billion in 2022). You may find multiple manners of projections for commercial small drones, some in this range and some beyond. However, they all shout out one thing: Drones = Growth.
This is, in no small manner, verified by the extensive use-cases adopted and perfected by drones (small and micro Unmanned Aerial Vehicles or UAVs). Here’s a snapshot of how these drones would keep ticking the right boxes in various global departments and industries.
Drones for defence and homeland security
There’s always some or other escalation to be tackled when it comes to border or homeland security. Countries around the world are constantly trying to improve the coverage, impact and safety of their defence forces. They are consistently looking for ways to modernize their operations to minimize collateral damage (life, surroundings and capital) while maximizing results (campaign success).
India recently upped the ante in terms of modernization of their troops. The government has chalked out a 5 to 7-year action plan, worth $130 billion, to modernize their forces. This includes, among other things, small and micro drones.
Here are a few pointers where drones are and will continue to excel in terms of defence and homeland security.
i. Surveying and mapping of strategic terrains
ii. Live, regular and detailed surveillance (day or night)
iii. High-resolution thermal imaging
iv. First-hand reconnaissance in active campaigns
v. Clear target-locked movement tracking
vi. Counter-insurgency and counter-intelligence initiatives
vii. Crowd monitoring and crime control
viii. Beat patrolling and traffic management
You can read more about how drones help defence service here.
Drones for forest and wildlife preservation
We have witnessed some terrible forest wildfires recently and there isn’t much convincing required to know that it’s bad. Even though forest fires could sometimes be a natural occurrence (even sometimes good for the overall bio conservation), they still need to be kept under control.
Drones, have been and would continue to be a key element in forest and wildlife conservation. According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), we are losing 18.7 million acres of forest cover each year (4).
Some drone applications of trends that improve forest and wildlife preservation efforts are:
i. Regular surveying of forest cover for immediate change detection
ii. Virtually tagging and tracking animal movement
iii. Spotting unauthorized and unlawful activities as poaching, encroachment or insurgent holds
iv. Spotting early signs through vegetative mapping, in terms of fire-risk profiling
v. Safe (high-resolution) visual access to hard-to-reach areas
vi. First-aerial support response (reconnaissance) for any event
vii. Creating a thermal mapping or profiling of fire to direct resources better
viii. Documenting forest cover and animal life far-better and more frequently
There’s far more to how drones help with forest and wildlife preservation. You can read more here.
Drones for disaster relief and emergency response
According to the UN Global Assessment Report (2015), disasters cost India around $10 billion dollars a year. In a more recent study, the United Nations Office of Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) suggested that countries that don’t invest in active disaster risk reduction may be prone to economic losses amounting to a 4% resultant dip in GDP.
As a society, we must keep innovating in better ways to deal with survival, especially in terms of natural (or man-made) disasters. Disaster response, relief and rescue are critical milestones for any society. It ensures continuity of life, trade and nature.
Drones have become the new standard and go-to-partner in all aspects of disaster response, relief, search and rescue, etc. They are also a critical aspect of pre-disaster risk reduction in the overall Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) efforts by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and the National Disaster Relief Force (NDRF).
Here are some key trends that would keep small and micro drones that would help turn disaster risk-reduction into disaster prevention.
i. Detailed surveying and mapping of vulnerable and hazardous zones
ii. Effective 3D Digital Elevation Models to help plan structures and prevent heavy losses
iii. Deep and close asset inspections to spot anomalies or fine cracks (through LiDAR tech or thermal stress profiling)
iv. Spotting triggers like sudden deforestation or (potential) standing crop losses
v. Live surveillance and reconnaissance of disaster-struck areas for first-hand situational awareness
vi. Effective planning and execution of disaster relief activities with live aerial support (of drones)
vii. Spotting survivors, even in remote areas or subsurface, through high-resolution visuals of thermal mapping
viii. Helping rescuers plan their efforts even when communication and transport means are disrupted
ix. Accessing hard-to-reach areas in quick time for subsequent decision on-ground action
x. Supply and drop of emergency food or medical supplies in isolated areas
xi. Emergency (first) response in terms of medical or fire emergency, helping teams to better analyse and channel their resources
You can read a lot more about disaster relief with drones here.
These are just a few of the deep applications of drones. You can imagine, that these growing drone-led trends are great not just for the defence and industrial efficiency, but also for the people. This is the part of this section. The next section would talk in-depth about the trends in proper industries like agriculture, mining, oil and gas, power, construction, etc.