We hear a lot about drones being used commonly in industries like oil and gas, or agriculture, or construction. And we also hear a lot about the applications of drones – mapping, surveying, delivery and the like. But how do the individual industries use drones?
German-based drone research group Drone Industry Insights essentially put together the data surrounding industries and applications to find how industries use drones — and what the most popular applications of drones actually are. And as it turns out, a drone is a lot more than just a flying camera for most business use cases.
Across the board, the most common application of drones is not actually photography or filming. The top use of drones among commercial applications, based on this Drone Industry Insights analysis, is actually mapping/surveying, with inspections coming in at number two and photography/filming at number three.
The energy sector
Roughly 83% of the drones being put to work in the energy sector are there to carry out inspections. Drone application in the energy sector is expected to reach a global market value of up to $6 billion by 2025, according to DII.
“By using a drone instead of a person, the inspector is not placed in dangerous situations, and the flare/powerline/turbine that is being inspected usually does not have to be shut down to guarantee human safety, which means it continues to operate and generate revenue,” according to DII.
Technology like the DJI Zenmuse XT thermal camera allows energy companies the ability to generate aerial thermal maps or radiometric thermal processing, which can then allow site engineers to detect leaks or corrosion in real time.
And drone use among energy companies is only growing. DroneDeploy said that drone use among energy companies that also use its namesake DroneDeploy software is skyrocketing; flights jumped 74% and users increased 13% in 2020’s Q2 vs. Q1. The company also said that global energy flights increased 123% and users increased 86% between 2018 and 2019.
The construction sector
80% of drones in the construction industry are used for mapping and surveying, which includes more specific projects like aerial planning, inventory management, topographic mapping, 3D reconstruction of sites or ongoing construction projects. In construction, DII estimates that drone applications currently have a market value of almost $3 billion.
“This enhances worker safety, provides digital data that was not available before, makes project management more efficient, and speeds up projects while decreasing cost in terms of time and money,” according to DII.
Expect spending to increase as more industries use drones for more applications
And importantly for people who work in the drone industry — expect growth. The biggest industries that use drones say they also anticipate an increase in spending this year.
Drone Deploy conducted a study of its customers, asking whether they intended to increase, decrease or keep spending the same this year. Here’s what they found within each industry.
- Construction: 52% of DroneDeploy’s energy-focused clients say they intend to increase spending in 2021.
- Energy: 62% of DroneDeploy’s energy-focused clients say they intend to increase spending in 2021.
- Agriculture: 45% of DroneDeploy’s energy-focused clients say they intend to increase spending in 2021.