From farming to film, drone technology is being embraced by companies in the UK – and new rules may mean these early innovations are just the start
With Domino’s announcing plans to deliver pizzas using drones and Facebook testing the use of the technology to bring high-speed internet to billions of people, it does seem that we’re only scratching the surface of what drone technology could enable for businesses big and small.
New research by DronesDirect.co.uk, the online drone retailer, has found that 586,430 people in Britain have already used drones for commercial purposes. According to the research, media companies capturing aerial footage are the biggest users, with 63% already operating drones. But they are far from the only early adopters: 39% of management companies, 34% of oil and utilities firms, 18% of those in the agricultural sector and 17% of construction companies have also taken advantage of the tech.
Drones are useful because they allow businesses to get a bird’s eye view, conduct jobs that take place way above ground and get into tricky nooks and crannies remotely. Their ability to beat traffic is also making them appealing for delivery companies like the Royal Mail, Amazon and DHL – all of which are enjoying attention after announcing plans to explore drone technology.
That being said, drones aren’t just about PR and pizza: firms are using them to meet practical needs. The technology is already being adopted by the construction industry to assess projects, farmers to distribute fertilisers, oil companies to inspect offshore oil rigs and fire services to assess scenes from different angles.
Commenting on the dawn of drones, Tim Morley, category manager at DronesDirect.co.uk, said: “It’s great to see businesses incorporating drones into their day-to-day practices to not only make processes simpler and more efficient but also offer new services.”
But, with the convenience, speed and efficiency that drones bring, can they be too efficient for their own good? The Daily Telegraph has reported on the use of drones by councils in England to fly over the homes of people making planning applications, which has thrown up questions over privacy. There are concerns over the security of drones and issues around control, especially after researcher Nils Rodday demonstrated how easy it is to hack into drones remotely.
Still, drones do offer businesses an opportunity to find better ways of doing things. And what could really propel companies to start exploring innovative new uses is the decision by the Civil Aviation Authority to relax regulations relating to the use of drones in commercial trials. Could this be the dawn of the drone age?