|24 November 2016|

Europe

Drones offer innovative and more productive ways of working for an increasing range of industries and a report by PwC earlier this year valued the potential impact of the technology at over $127 billion.

The report – Clarity from above – on the commercial applications of drone technology infrastructure, based its calculations on ‘the value of current business services and labour that have a high potential for replacement in the very near future by drone powered solutions’.

Infrastructure leads the way at $45.2 billion as drone technology provides stakeholders with huge opportunities for working smarter and more efficiently. The report said investment monitoring, maintenance and asset inventory were the key applications for the industry.

And in the future drones are likely to have an even bigger role to play in infrastructure projects.

“We can expect to see drones not only diagnosing problems with crumbling infrastructure, such as cracks in tarmac, bridges and building facades, but also repairing them. In the future, 3D printing technology will be combined with drone technologies to maintain and repair infrastructure. Construction companies will be able to attach 3D printers to drones, to produce on-site replacement parts for damaged elements of infrastructure. The growth of 3D printing is already contributing to the drone sector: In 2014, the first flying 3D printer was created,” the report said.

The transport industry, insurance, media and entertainment, and agriculture are other areas where drones are changing how things are done.

“Unmanned aerial vehicles are starting to be used in a wide spectrum of transport activities, from e-commerce package delivery, to transport of medicines, to fleet management and spare-parts delivery and even to same-day food delivery.”

In response to the rapid adoption of drone technology, PwC opened Drone Powered Solutions (DPS) – ‘its first global centre of excellence focusing on the commercial use of drone technology’ – in Poland last year; one of the first countries to develop ‘detailed laws regulating the industrial use of drones’.