The utilization of drones for commercial applications has been one of the hot topics of 2016, with various high-profile companies assessing the opportunity for drones in their industries. For the moment, commercial drone flights are largely banned in the United States. However, last week, a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) panel proposed a new set of rules that would allow drones to fly over populated areas.
The 27-member panel was made up of drone manufacturers, commercial and private pilots, and airport representatives. They recommended that drones be placed into one of four categories. These categories range from small drones to much larger commercial drones. Each category would have its own specific restrictions. For example, a small drone would have minimal restrictions. But a larger drone would require a documented risk mitigation plan and would be subject to distance requirements.
The FAA has said it will consider the panel’s proposals and issue final regulations later this year.
In today’s blog post we’re going to look at how commercial drones could change our lives. Here are five ways drones could be used in the near future:
Amazon has made no secret of its plans to turn our skies into a drone superhighway. It is developing drones that can deliver packages to customers in 30 minutes or less. It recently emerged that the e-commerce giant had spent almost $10 million lobbying for drone delivery in 2015, which is almost twice the sum it spent the year before. At the NASA UTM Convention last summer, the company proposed that airspace below 200 feet should be reserved for fully autonomous drones.
But they face no shortage of competition. Foodpanda, the world’s largest online food delivery platform, has been testing its drone delivery technology in Singapore. If the tests are successful, Foodpanda wants to use drones in all 24 of its markets, including Hong Kong, Malaysia and India. The company says drones can cut food delivery time to about 20 minutes.
This has led to predictions that the global commercial-purpose drones market will grow at a massive rate of 57% by 2016 and 2020.
The worldwide market for military drones is valued at $4.4 billion and this figure will rise to $6.8 billion by 2022. Drones are being used for surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence missions. They can also be used for 3D mapping, military strikes and to support ground troops. According to this recent report, they are more energy efficient, last longer and have a significantly lower cost of operation than manned aircrafts.
Each drone can choose thousands of vantage points, extending military strategic visualization beyond what has previously been possible.
Drones are being widely adopted in the agriculture sector because they allow for better crop monitoring. Farmers are using drones for a wide variety of tasks, including mapping, seeding, remote sensing and spraying.
Farmers around the world are adapting to drone availability, using these aerial cameras to visualize plants. Crop visualization lets farmers better control and isolate areas for spraying.
The worldwide market for agricultural drones is anticipated to reach $3.69 billion by 2022.
WiFi and Connectivity
Some of the world’s biggest tech companies are also campaigning for drone regulation. Last year, Facebook revealed plans to build a solar-powered drone that could fly without landing for three months. Named Aquila, the drone would be used to provide internet access to rural areas. Google is working on a similar project that uses millimeter wave technology to deliver a wireless internet service that is up to 40 times faster than current 4G.
AT&T and Intel are working together to connect drones to the LTE network. The two companies are examining how higher altitudes affect video streaming, transmitting and flight information.
Drones have fundamentally changed the accuracy of video photography from the air. They can travel to areas and angles that humans simply cannot and provide more compelling video for entertainment than can be done at a reasonable cost.
News organisations, government agencies and even regular individuals are turning to drones for photography. Photography drones are set to make every industry more productive with better, more flexible visualization. For this reason, the market is expected to reach $8.5 billion by 2021.
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