One of the most fascinating and fastest growing industries in the world at present is the UAV or drone industry. Gone are the days when a drone was the exclusive field for governments’ use as weapons in foreign wars. From agriculture to border patrol to the personal toys we all love to have, there is virtually no business sector that has not found at least has prospective use for this amazing innovation.
The drone industry is still a very young one it terms of the time it has existed so far. Less than a decade ago they were only seen as the dreaded death machines, but over the last few years, acceptance has grown tremendously that they are seen as the new cool toys to have by individuals and a growing tool for conducting business.
The Drone industry has been at a latent phase for many years since its inception, as UAVs were mainly the exclusive forte of the military and few other fringe applications. But all changed as in 2015 the Federal Aviation Administration began giving multitudes of exemptions for private companies to beginning using drones within US airspace
Industries from construction, to agriculture and insurance began intensive use of drones and this helped in bringing the use of UAVs into the mainstream and even made it cool for private citizens to pursue owning their pet drones.
The big year for the UAV industry came in 2016, which saw a huge rise in the use of personal or toy drones. It was reported that there were more than 2.2 million drone purchases in the US alone, a hundred percent increase from the previous year’s 1.1 million units.
Rules and Regulations
Apart from the United States which has very strict rules when it comes to its airspace, the rules and regulations in a lot of the developed countries has been more lax and enabling of the industry in the past few years. While in other parts of the world, where drones are just beginning to take root, rules are close to non-existent as the authorities do not see low flying toy drones as anything to have to fuss to make any legislation for. Back in the United States, there are calls from some aviation experts for urgent new regulations to curtail the growth of the UAV industry. They are of the view that proliferation of toy drones might soon pose a safety nightmare for the commercial aviation industry. So far there hasn’t been any empirical evidence to this effect.
The Drone industry will likely continue to see tighter competition as the FAA’s establishment of Part 107 has meant that manufacturers don’t need huge financial backing to be able to make an entry into the industry.
Present and Future Opportunities
The drone industry is unlikely to slow down any time soon. As with every passing year new private and commercial applications are found for these innovative machines. Within the US and farther afield into continents like Africa, the quality of life of people can be greatly enhanced through the proper use of drones. Some of the great opportunities that abound for the industry include:
With more and more awareness focusing on the devastation of climate change and the world’s resolve to frontally confronting it, UAVs can have a significant role in monitoring climatic conditions around the world. Extreme places that are too difficult for humans to strike out on their own to gather data can be monitored and recorded using specialized drone without any risks to human life. Weather disasters such as hurricanes and their paths can also be more accurately monitored using UAVs. In places like the South Pacific, where countries are on the constant lookout for tsunamis, UAVs also have a great role to play in safeguarding human life.
On the African continent where wildlife is under constant pressure from poachers, UAVs have a unique role to play in the effort of conserving and protecting them. Animals such as Elephants and Rhinos which are seriously hunted for their tusks and horns respectively have been driven close to extinction in some game reserves. And with the meager resources of wildlife rangers in those countries UAV’s can be used to successfully monitor and curtail the activities of these poachers.
The Business World
Since the start of the UAV boom, it is now getting clearer that drones will soon be considered as crucial business tools that industries must learn to use to keep them beyond the competition. Commercial drones have seen a rapid rise with key areas of use being infrastructure inspection, construction and the insurance industry as well. Commercial use has translated to a rapid increase revenue for manufacturers, but the lucrative business is now seeing an equal increase in the number of manufacturers all seeking to get a share of the growing market.
Personal drones have not been much left behind either, as for as little as $900 a drone enthusiast can have their own “pet drone” that can identify them and accompany them wherever they go. Or even be used to take “impossible” selfies for photography fanatics. One of the great curious things about private drones is that despite their very modest prices, they tend to be much more sophisticated and smarter than the traditional military drones, and most can be easily be customized for commercial use by small business owners with a few modifications. Investment in the drone industry has leveled up as investors are now looking for manufacturers that will not just mimic the products of rivals but invent new features for personal drones or those that solve real life problems for commercial and specialized drones. As we head to the end of the decade it is estimated that the drone industry will grow exponentially with an estimated 22 million units to be shipped in 2020. Competition which will further bring down the prices especially for commercial and private drones, which will likely usher in a huge adoption in countries that are yet to taste the amazing potentials of this industry.