Unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, present opportunities for forward-thinking businesses, but at the moment, tight restrictions apply to their usage. In the UK, drones cannot be flown within 150 metres of a congested area, or within 50 metres of a person or vehicle not under the control of the pilot. Drones over the weight of 20kg, or involved in commercial use must be registered with the Civil Aviation Authority.
Keeping this in mind, what industries could benefit from UAVs?
Drones are perfect for surveying work, as they provide a birds-eye view without the need to an expensive piloted-aircraft. They can be flown over potentially dangerous sites, without risking a human life. As well as video and photography, drones fitted with sensors can detect sound and heat information.
Using drones, surveyors can provide services such as identifying property boundaries, subdividing land, and surveying potential construction sites. A well-equipped drone can survey a much greater land area in a shorter time period than a surveyor on foot.
Drones are increasingly used in agriculture to water crops, plant seeds and spray pesticides in a much more efficient and safe fashion than ground based methods.
Monitoring crop development over a large area is much easier with an unmanned aerial vehicle. Previously, this required an expensive satellite photo. Drones can spot plants in need of irrigation, crop diseases taking over an area, and provide soil analysis.
Potentially, delivery by drone could drastically reduce overheads, allowing for cheaper, faster deliveries. But regulation prohibits drones operating in highly populated areas. In the future, we may well these laws loosened for people living in remote areas, and emergencies such as medicine deliveries to critically ill patients.
Test deliveries have been made by firms like Amazon, but the noise and security concerns of the general public may keep this freight method on the ground, more so than any technological limitations.
A step-up from static security cameras, security drones can be programmed to identify and track intruders based on heat and movement. Authorities can be alerted, and an image can be taken of the intruders for future legal proceedings. All without exposing a human guard to risk.
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