Recent years have seen a rapid surge in the popularity and use of drone technology across various industries. It is estimated that consumers will spend $241.4 billion on drones in 2023, according to IDC’s Worldwide Robotics and Drones Spending Guide. From the military to Logistics and personal entertainment applications, the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UVAs) is popping up in every industry across the globe. As more drone manufacturers like DJI Innovations capitalize on the rising demand for drone technology, more companies and countries are finding ways to apply it. From monitoring by countries like India and Rwanda to photography from travels you always want to remember and improved news reporting, drone technology is erupting across the globe.
Military Operations And Surveillance
The military continues to account for a majority of drone technology spend – approximately $70 billion in 2020, according to Goldman Sach’s recent report. According to a research brief from CBS Insights, around 90 countries currently possess a form of drone technology. In addition to its ability to capture new angles and viewing points, drone technology is also playing a role in reducing and protecting military resources by taking the place of army personnel in many risky missions and high tension areas.
However, drone technology is not just being used in a surveillance capacity. Both the national military and CIA now have drone programs in place as a part of their counter-terrorism approach. As apart of their operations, drone technology has also been used to conduct airstrikes on suspected terrorism subjects. The most notable examples were the military drone strikes on Afganistan, Syria, and Yemen throughout 2017 and 2018. As for the costs to the military, they are higher ($9.39 billion requested in the 2019 fiscal budget) thanks to military-grade drones like Global Hawk and US Predator drone costing $15,000 per hour and $4 million respectively.
Personal Entertainment And Toy Purchases
Beginning in the 2000s, drone technology began to move from commercial applications to consumer use thanks to more personal drone models being made available, prices being reduced, and ample resources on Do It Yourself drone use popping up across the internet. The demand for hobby drones has risen steadily over the years. According to the FAA, it is estimated that over 1.25 million drones are currently in operation, while over 900,000 model drones have been registered with the FAA. For those looking to get their first drone, Drone Guru recommends considering the camera specifications to get the best flying experience. Other factors to look for include the software you will use, the price tag, and additional features like the inclusion of GPS.
Journalism And Photography Industry
Drone journalism has now become the norm for many news agencies, magazines, and even personal photographers. The journalism industry was one of the first ones to adopt drone technology, and now almost every major news organization, including CNN, now employs the use of aerial journalism in their reporting. Amongst the many benefits of implementing drone technology, the expanded news coverage and spotlight it has brought to disasters such as Hurricane Harvey and Irma have stood out. For photographers, the use of drones when taking photos has enabled them to capture unique viewpoints – offering clients one of a kind images of their special occasions.
There have also been instances where drone technology has not only helped with public information but also assisted authorities in resolving breaking news events. One good example is its use of BAC drone footage, helping first responders during Hurricane Harvey. Of course, there have also been concerns over its use throughout the year. Most significantly, there have been debates over whether drone use in journalism invades the privacy of viewers or private property. With the continued discussions around its usefulness in journalism, organizations like the National Association Photographers Press have begun to take steps to promote ethical drone journalism, including the regular running of workshops for journalists and journalism educators alongside a drone journalism code of ethics.
The use of commercial drones is also set to accelerate in the coming months and years. Logistics and shipping providers like Amazon have already begun to test the use of drone technology in their delivery operations. At the same time, the construction industry has also started to implement the use of drone technology in surveying land and site security. One thing is for sure: drone technology is here to stay.