Cell tower inspectors are considered to have one of the most dangerous jobs in the world and risk falling from heights as far as 60 meters. For large enterprise companies that need to inspect a portion of the more than 4.8 million communications towers in the world, it means that hundreds of thousands of people will be injured inspecting them annually.
Thankfully, drones can take on the majority of the risk for employers looking to sustainably scale their tower networks. Drones are capable of automating these inspections through AI and sending notifications to the current tower inspection teams, which means people only need to go to towers when something needs to be repaired.
Increasingly more is being expected of the agricultural sector for productivity, resilience, and sustainability. But, this becomes a major challenge when organisations are continually losing a percentage of their overall workforce with the average global employment for agriculture in 1994 at 44% and in 2019 at only 27%.
Drones offer a solution since they’re already able to achieve these modern expectations for the agriculture industry. They’re capable of monitoring crops, irrigating & spraying fields, while simultaneously providing health assessments and notifying farmers if there are any pollutants or infestations at the cost of $5 per acre. A research study was able to test these assumptions and prove how switching to drones led one Brazilian soybean farmer to reduce herbicide use by 52%.
Drones have the ability to arrive at a crime scene an average of 3.27 minutes after an emergency call was made to authorities compared to humans who arrived around 17 minutes after receiving the call.
The time difference can help first responders get an understanding of where a suspect is located or where they should position themselves to keep out of danger. Drones can also help locate people trapped in dangerous situations like in a fire, earthquake, flood, or even during a hostage situation.
Journalists are regularly put into dangerous situations, and many are looking at drones as a way of obtaining important footage while mitigating potential risks and lower operating costs. That’s likely why, in a study conducted by the University of Madison, one of their findings was, “The opportunity to have more visuals and video with stories and the ability to do more types of news stories was the largest draw to adopting drone journalism.”
That’s on top of the crippling costs for aerial footage from helicopters, which is around $5,000 (for cinematic footage, it’s likely to cost you around $20,000). Even looking at the most expensive services for aerial drone footage, prices are significantly lower at around $500 per acre for agricultural footage being the most expensive service and around $32 hourly in California.
Drone deliveries are already being used regularly by logistics organisations, which was demonstrated when regulatory approval was granted to an Alphabet subsidiary in Canberra, Australia. In March 2022, only a few years after the company’s launch, they were able to achieve over 1,000 deliveries in a single day.
Logistics companies can also benefit from an up to 80% reduction in costs for deliveries. As drone routes become more frequently used in the supply chain and more landing pads are created, costs are expected to decline even further.
Urban Air Mobility is on the rise, with 6,700 orders representing around $45 billion in potential sales value, according to a 2023 McKinsey report. Although the industry is still young, a majority of these orders are from established airlines, aircraft charter, and leasing companies.
McKinsey also predicts that 2023 will bring more regulations in the industry that will empower growth through greater clarity on how urban air mobility will operate. Companies that can navigate these regulations and function within them are likely to have the greatest chance of capitalising on this success.
Power-line inspection is a very time-consuming and expensive task–the average cost of flying a helicopter over a power line is an average of $1,200 to $1,500 per mile. For companies in the EU, these numbers aren’t far off from their American counterparts.
Drones can cut these costs down dramatically by performing AI-based inspections faster while using less fuel. On average, drones cost around $200 to $300 per mile and offer the added benefit of being faster as well as safer since the pilot is on the ground.
BEI (Built Environment Inspection) refers to the inspection of bridges, railways and completed buildings and will remain one of the largest markets for enterprise drones through 2030. For example, a bridge inspection via drone costs around $1,200 while one with a vehicle costs up to $5,300.
For railways, since 75% of them are located in rural areas, inspecting them with drones comes with massive cost savings and increased efficiency since they can inspect up to 65km per day. Because drones use AI during an inspection, they can recognize and predict structural issues with more accuracy compared to traditional methods.
First responders, no matter if it’s the police, firefighters or medical personnel, need to be fast. The response time of a drone is up to six times faster than that of a helicopter and they’re much more cost-effective. The launching costs for a drone are between $16,000 and $29,000 whereas the costs for launching a police helicopter can reach up to $3.5 Mio. Additionally, the operating costs per hour for a drone hover between $90 and $102 while a helicopter costs up to $1,000 per hour.
Search and rescue (SAR) is the most common purpose of drones in responding agencies and accounted for 10% of global drone sales in 2022. Acquisition costs for a drone are up to 10 times lower compared to acquiring a helicopter and the operating costs are more than 10 times lower. Drones can reach places helicopters can’t and come with various sensors and A.I supported functionalities unmatched by traditional SAR methods. Additionally, launching a drone costs less and is faster compared to a helicopter.
Medical drones have already been used to deliver medicine, blood, and organs as well as vaccines with new use cases continuously being tested. The pandemic has seen a rapid increase in drone use which will continue as new capabilities and regulations are being adopted.
The global market for medical drones was almost $195 million dollars in 2020. This is expected to grow to $1.4 billion dollars in 2028 as adoption rates for BVLOS drone flights are increasing because more hospitals and pharmacies start using drones.
Over 2000 drone deliveries were made every day in 2022 and the number is increasing rapidly. The advantages over cars and mopeds are greater delivery speed, lower labour costs and significantly less CO2 emission. The pandemic has seen a stellar rise in parcel and food delivery adoption and from big companies to small stores and restaurants, delivery by drone is being seen as the new normal.