Inexpensive consumer drones have become popular in recent years for hobbyists and amateur videographers, but commercial industries have also begun using drones to automate processes, bring down costs, and introduce new innovation. Now, how does According to research conducted by Business Insider, commercial drone sales are expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 51 percent to reach 850,000 shipments by 2021.

Many industries are still experimenting with the potential that drones can offer, but a wide variety of practical commercial applications for drone technology have already been implemented. In the years ahead, further advancements in drone technology and its longest flight time will enable new commercial applications that will transform how businesses manufacture and ship the products people use every day.

Agricultural Applications

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The farming industry has entailed high uncertainty since the dawn of civilization, but data-driven farming is helping agricultural businesses to predict crop failure and implement appropriate responses. To improve farming using modern technology, agricultural businesses need substantial amounts of data about existing crop conditions. Drones are ideal for gathering information about crops since they offer high portability and the ability to record in high definition.

According to a study by WinterGreen Research, agricultural technology businesses have raised over $4.25 billion in funding to research and apply drone technology. In the years ahead, agricultural applications for drones will continue to expand as research begins to yield new solutions.

Drones are already being used to help agricultural businesses understand water levels, soil quality, crop health, and other factors. When specific data is known about existing crops, businesses can respond by adding pesticides, fertilizer, and water.

Applying crop treatments in a dynamic way with the help of data gathered from drones can help to minimize the possibility of crop failure and maximize yields. Several leading agricultural businesses, including DuPont and John Deere, have already developed software designed to gather actionable data using drones.

In the future, artificial intelligence will make data gathered from drones essential for competitive farming.

Emergency Management

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Disaster sites are often dangerous for first responders, so drones are ideal tools for intervention in the event of an emergency. Drones can be used to help decision-makers assess the severity of an emergency, identify areas that have the highest demand for assistance, and monitor crews on the ground. Fire departments, for example, are using drones to find the source of a gas leak without risking the lives of first responders.

Some drones built for emergency management include thermal imaging capabilities for navigating through dark spaces or measuring temperatures. Drone manufacturers are working on developing heat-resistant drones that are capable of entering burning buildings to make situational assessments.

  • Drone with police officers

Law enforcement agencies are also using drones to assess potentially dangerous situations before sending in officers. Some nations are testing autonomous patrol officers, and industry experts project that drones could be especially effective for these applications.

Drones could also be used for crowd control to broadcast messages or identify agitators. Use of drones will, therefore, become more common in the years ahead as first responders adopt the drone technologies that already exist.

  • Oil Pipeline Inspections

Oil pipelines often transport billions of dollars worth of oil each year, so criminals actively pursue opportunities to steal oil from pipelines in order to earn an illicit profit. Companies in some nations spend millions of dollars each year on police pipelines in an attempt to keep criminals away, but oil theft is still a common problem in many parts of the world.

Additionally, pipelines can become damaged over time due to natural causes, so routine inspections are necessary. Oil companies, thus, are beginning to adopt drone technology as a more cost-effective alternative to manual pipeline inspections.

  • Oil pipeline drone

Drones designed for oil and natural gas pipelines have been introduced that are equipped with thermal imaging technology for detecting pipeline leaks and potential oil thieves. Oil companies are also using drones for inspecting underground pipelines that are difficult for humans to reach.

Since drone swarms are inexpensive relative to the cost of full-time personnel, pipeline inspections conducted with the help of drones can lead to faster response times. Future drone applications for pipeline inspections could leverage artificial intelligence to reduce downtime with the help of predictive maintenance.

Warehousing and Inventory Management

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Inventory management practices are being revolutionized with the help of drones. Leading retailers are using drones to scan warehouses on a daily basis for products that are missing. Under ordinary circumstances, companies have to pay employees to manually count inventory items each quarter.

By using drones to detect missing inventory in a responsive way, warehouses can pinpoint the reasons for missing inventory by using recorded video footage and other data. Warehouses can also use data gathered from drones to improve inventory management practices in ways that would never be possible using conventional means.

Major retail businesses, including Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Target, have implemented their own tools to manage inventory with the assistance of drones. In the years ahead, specialized vendors are likely to begin creating their own systems designed to help smaller retailers manage their inventory. Drones could be especially helpful for retail businesses that need to identify items that require restocking.

Applications for drones are also being found in warehouses to help managers track the progress of employees. In future years, drones will become critical tools for warehouses seeking to improve efficiency with the help of artificial intelligence.

Shipping

The shipping industry presents some of the most promising applications for drone technology. In the current world, people are increasingly turning to the Internet to make purchases without having to leave their homes. Shipping costs, however, make online purchases prohibitively expensive for a majority of buyers, so most products are still bought in retail stores. Drones will transform the shipping industry by bringing down the cost of delivery to almost zero. By eliminating the need for conventional delivery trucks, drones will enable consumers to buy almost everything they need online.

The most significant barrier to widespread adoption of drone delivery in today’s world is prevailing regulations that forbid the use of autonomous drones. Once drones overcome regulatory hurdles for autonomous delivery, drones will add trillions of dollars to the global economy by streamlining the transportation of retail goods.

By eliminating retail costs, consumers will save a significant amount of money on goods necessary for daily life. It is, therefore, inevitable that regulators will legalize autonomous drones in the near future. Once drone delivery technologies are unleashed to their full potential, a large industry focused on drone delivery will emerge.

Drone delivery product

Other Industrial Applications for Drone Technology

Drones have the potential to improve the efficiency of any industry that manages objects in the physical environment. Innovators have found ways to use drones in manufacturing businesses to monitor production lines and deliver products within factories. Construction companies are using drones to monitor progress and conduct inspections.

Governments are also making use of drones for a wide array of applications, including for managing civil infrastructures, surveilling sensitive facilities, and patrolling borders. Although most of the existing drone applications have focused on gathering data, new drone technologies will increasingly focus on manipulating the physical environment with the help of artificial intelligence.

Drones will, therefore, introduce radical changes to the world in the years ahead.

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