aerial corn agriculture field drone pilot female woman

2021 drone use is still growing — and have nearly doubled by some metrics

By some metrics, 2021 drone use has doubled. That’s a highly encouraging trend after pretty much every industry was upended by the COVID-19 pandemic. But perhaps it’s the inherently-distant nature of drones, or maybe it’s their now proven aid to enterprise operations. Either way, 2021 drone use grew — and it grew by a lot.

Drone software company DroneDeploy released its Q2 State of the Industry review, which revealed some surprising stats about its usage data. And, it sheds some insight into what the future holds for the drone industry. The stats for its reported come from usage data from more than 600 DroneDeploy users who span more than 40 countries and 20 industries, such as agriculture, construction or energy.

Among the most surprising stats from the Q2 State of the Industry review: DroneDeploy’s Q2 2021 flights and users nearly doubled (+99.7% for flights, +82% for users) from the same quarter last year.

2021 drone use DroneDeploy Q2
Chart courtesy of DroneDeploy,

And promising for the drone industry, many sectors saw growth. In 2020, we heard a lot about drone delivery, with drones delivering everything from at-home COVID testing kits to PPE to simple food items for people who couldn’t leave their homes. But it turns out, delivery is far from the real growth driver for the drone industry.

The biggest growth leader is actually agriculture, according to DroneDeploy’s data. Globally, agriculture usage saw 84% more flights and 49% more users in Q2 as compared to Q1 2021. The company recorded a 27% YOY increase in flights and a 17% YOY increase in users from the same quarter last year.

Within agriculture, drone use ranges from using aerial footage to spot diseases or monitor crops, flying drones over fields for fertilizing, pollinating, and even using drones to plant seeds.

Of course, this data set is based purely on DroneDeploy users, and it doesn’t necessarily mean agriculture use is up worldwide. Much of that increase might be attributed to the recent introduction of DroneDeploy’s Stand Assessment tool, which was building for farmers to analyze early crop emergence and make decisions about re-planting, and was developed with agri-science giant Corteva. That means current or potential DroneDeploy customers who fly drones for agricultural purposes now have access via DroneDeploy to Corteva’s proprietary Stand Assessment Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology, bringing scalable in-field analytics to their own farm operations.

2021 drone use DroneDeploy Q2 2021 activity growth by industry

Other notable growth was in the construction industry, which saw a 16% increase in flights and 5% increase in users this quarter, possibly attribute to the rise in post-pandemic construction as people demand newly-built homes in growing suburbs as work-from-home trends continue.

Other data corroborates DroneDeploy’s data, too. An April 2021 report from  Drone Industry Insights found that hiring is up too, as drone companies increased their staff by 15%, on average in 2020. Additionally in 2020, drone investment hit a record high.

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