In seeking ways to market drones, many companies are asking how they can be used on jobsites. According to the latest report from Drone Industry Insights (DRONEII), drones can be used in numerous ways. In fact, the Drone Application Report 2021 lists 237 different commercial applications.
A commercial drone is any drone used for work. This means that commercial drones include both those drones that are made for specific types of jobs, such as Flyability’s Elios 2 (which is made for flying in confined spaces), and drones that are made for general consumers, but can also be used in professional settings, like DJI’s new Mavic Air 2.
Some of the Top Commercial Drones
The following are seven of the top commercial drones on the market at this time and how they are utilized:
- “DJI Matrice 300 RTK—Outdoor inspections
- Flyability Elios 2—Indoor inspections
- DJI Mavic 2—Aerial photography/videography
- Freefly Alta 8—High-end cinematography
- DJI Agras MG-1—Agriculture
- Parrot ANAFI USA—Public Safety
- senseFly eBee Classic—Mapping & Surveying”*
Top Industries Using Drones for Commercial Use
The following are some of the top industries and sectors using drones for work:
- “Agriculture. Using drones to collect data on their crops and then using that data to improve their yields.
- Chemicals. Drones are being used in the chemical industry to improve indoor inspections by taking the place of inspectors in collecting visual data inside large assets used in chemical processes.
- Conservation. One of the main ways drones are helping conservation efforts is by providing detailed vegetation maps to help track forestry work, and water mapping to better understand how water moves through an area. Drones have also been invented that shoot out seeds from the air, which could help reforestation efforts in places that have been clear cut.
- Construction. Mapping and surveying construction sites can be quite slow when done by walking a site. Drones help speed up these efforts, allowing construction companies to provide real-time maps of progress, and surveys that can help them both plan for projects, and improve projects that are underway, leading to significant savings.
- Delivery. Consumer drone delivery has yet to be rolled out at a large scale anywhere in the world, but it does present a major contribution for commercial drones. Medical drone delivery is currently taking place throughout the world in countries as far-reaching as Rwanda, the U.S., and Switzerland (where Flyability is headquartered).
- Filmmaking. For years now, high-end drones have been used to capture aerial shots for movies instead of helicopters, which are more expensive and cumbersome to work with.
- Mining. Mining companies are turning to tough indoor drones, like the Elios 2 to help them create maps of their mines. These maps lead to improved safety and can also help companies locate ore that might otherwise be lost.
- Insurance. Insurance companies are always processing claims, especially after large storms. Drones are helping insurance companies process claims on roof damage much more quickly by allowing adjusters to collect visual data from the sky instead of by climbing up ladders. Insurance companies are also using drones for accident reconstruction, helping them to piece together how an auto collision took place so that they can verify the validity of auto-related insurance claims.
- Oil & Gas. Indoor drones, like the Elios 2, are making a big impact in Oil & Gas by providing inspectors with a tool for collecting high-quality visual data inside assets crucial to the oil refining process, such as tanks and FCC units. and risers.
- Power Generation. In power generation, indoor drones are also helping inspectors to access areas that would otherwise be difficult to reach. Drones can also help keep inspectors from the harm presented by radiation at nuclear power plants by taking the place of inspectors in collecting visual data of key assets, like boilers.
- Public Safety. Law enforcement, fire departments, and search and rescue have all adopted drones over the last several years. Police use drones to help them get better situational awareness and to map densely populated areas, firefighters use drones to collect thermal data that can pinpoint where they should focus their efforts, and search and rescue personnel are using both thermal and visual sensors on drones to help find people missing in the wilderness.
- Sewer Maintenance. Indoor drones have been helping inspectors enter city sewer systems to collect visual data that can be used to identify the source of a problem or to evaluate the condition of the infrastructure as part of the regular maintenance process. Learn more about sewer inspection in our in-depth guide.”*
Commercial drones, then, are being used across various industries to help companies save money, increase the efficiency of their operations, and improve safety.
Some companies focus on certain sectors, such as public safety, energy, surveying, construction, etc., which makes sense since enterprise companies often purchase from partners they already know. Within those sectors there are a wide variety of ways that commercial drones can be applied, with some that require different features and accessories if they are to perform at their optimum. And pinpointing those applications can be helpful to manufacturers and partners to be able to develop the right sensors and software for each job.
According to Ed Alvarado, who works for DRONE II:
“Whether it’s Germany, Sweden, Brazil or Malaysia, drones are innovating business development in a similar way to what smartphones started to do in the early 2000s, and the key is neither hardware nor software but a combination of these into a valuable application . . .”*
According to DRONEII, the top unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) applications have to do with various kinds of inspections, such as construction, surveying and mapping. These sectors use the technology for both purposes, in addition to a variety of other applications, which increasingly include drone delivery on some construction jobsites.
Alvarado points out:
“In the Energy sector, roughly 83% of the time, drones are used to carry out inspections that could be life-threatening to a human or would cost companies millions of dollars in lost revenue…. Another industry where drones are mostly used for inspections is Real Estate, Rental & Leasing, and Industrial Plants (67%).
Meanwhile, in Construction, drones are mostly (80%) used for mapping and surveying (e.g. aerial planning, inventory management, topographic mapping, 3D reconstruction of sites or ongoing construction projects). This enhances worker safety, provides digital data that was not available before, makes project management more efficient, and speeds up projects while decreasing cost in terms of time and money.”*
Although drone technology and sensors are often multi-purpose, there is an increased use of sophisticated software that makes it possible for industries to integrate drone technology into their existing workflows. “Photography and Filming,” that was previously the dominant application, is now used by very few industries. With the increasing use of AI-powered software, lightweight sensors, accessories and automated hardware, the number of commercial applications are expanding as well.
Just as the drone industry has grown for the last several years, the use of drones for work has grown exponentially.
It should be no surprise that the number of commercial applications are expanding with the increasing use of AI-powered software, lightweight sensors, accessories and automated hardware.Commercial drones are increasingly being used across numerous industries to help companies save money, increase efficiency, and to improve safety of their operations.