Developments in drone technology have advanced rapidly in the past years, empowering industries that require live aerial broadcasting, thermal mapping, detailed inspections, fertilizer applications, cinematic solutions and more. The applications are endless, and drone manufacturers are continuously enhancing the capabilities of their drones to match the meet the needs of different industries and their application requirements.
2017 will not only expand on recent drone developments but also bring in a whole slew of industry-specific applications. Here are a few trends and use cases to watch for in the coming year.
Drone Deliveries: Amazon just announced its first ever Amazon Prime Air customer delivery, fulfilled in the UK. Forbes reports, “The Prime Air drone flew over calm as hell farmland…just look how happy Richard B. is when he finally received his new Amazon Fire TV stick and a bag of popcorn.” Amazon has been testing drone deliveries all over the world, and is expected to integrate its Prime Air services for deliveries in rural areas very soon. Although there are a lot of variables such as airspace management, regulatory concerns and technology constraints (i.e. battery life), this could be a game changer for the logistic sector.
Drone Dialogue: Front Page educates the public on crucial stories through short form documentary styled episodes. It features a wide variety of topics and personalities relevant to trends impacting America, and in 2017 will be introducing a profile that highlights the historical significance of drones, their uses, regulations and the future of technology. More mainstream coverage of drones should result in a higher awareness and openness to their various applications. Organizations like Women In Drones and Professional Society of Drone Journalists are also playing a big part in spearheading the discussion with hopes of making the technology more accessible and easy to understand.
Drone Aid: John Hopkins just released the first proof-of-concept study determining that large bags of blood products can maintain temperature and cellular integrity while transported by drones. This study reinforces the use of drones for delivery to rural areas that lack access to nearby clinics or the infrastructure for collecting or transporting blood products. Initiatives of this kind already kicked off in 2016 in countries like Australia and Japan and 2017 will see drone aid become the go-to delivery option in emergency response situation and medical assistance especially in remote rural areas.
Landmine Removal: Drones today are capable of mapping and collecting land data very effectively. 2016 saw drones created with the incentive of mapping, detecting and detonating land mines (landmines are known to kill thousands of innocent civilians every year). This application is currently in its early stages of activation and 2017 should see the expansion of projects like this. The Verge notes, “[this] could help change, and save, lives around the world.”
Asset Management: Gas and oil companies have been looking for a standard and global approach to managing engineering information and data throughout the life of an asset. Start-ups like SkyFutures plan to address this by using drones to help monitor and inspect oil and gas facilities. An Australian drone operator is using drones with long-range image data capture capabilities for its cell tower inspection work while others are using the technology to manage their ‘assets’ on the farm including cattle ranching and land management.
These may not cover all that is out there of what’s to come, but they definitely reflect the important contributions drones will be making in an array of industries.