Drones are being used nowadays for a large variety of applications, and in the future they may revolutionize the way people travel, transform how buildings are designed and built, and radically alter the form cities take. It’s also envisaged that drones will play a much greater and critical role in support missions – particularly their use for mapping, designing, monitoring and helping transport operators direct capacities where most needed.
In fact, there are tons of examples for drones used in support missions. It all began in the early 1980s where some of the first commercial use cases for drones included support missions, where they were deployed alongside piloted helicopters to guide them where to spray pesticides over fields in Japan.
Nowadays, drones designed for support missions are deployed in many parts of the world – however only by big players and national organizations. From planning to monitoring to maintenance and emergencies, everything is of special interest to companies and governments that have no manage assets dispersed over large areas or assets that are hard to inspect.
The Main Drivers
The transport industry also relies on drones – particularly because they present a unique opportunity to improve the quality and efficiency of a large variety of use cases. Currently, it is safe to say that there are three main drivers for the use of support drones in this (transportation) sector, including:
- The need to improve safety
- The need to reduce cost
- The need to improve information
All of these needs are uniquely addressed by drones, leveling up on the traditional transportation system and presenting unique opportunities for mapping and monitoring construction sites, transporting infrastructure maintenance, monitoring traffic flows, crowds as well as providing emergency support. Obviously, there are drones that also enforce compliance with transport policy goals and other similar use cases and scenarios.
Various Service Models
The focus on the emerging support drone industry has been on delivering end-to-end products such as hardware, software and services. However, there have been companies which have been building strategic partnerships and entering new models of transportation. DJI, which is among the leading drone developers, is the perfect example of such company.
So far, DJI has partnered with camera manufacturers, infrared companies, surveying system developers, geosystems and other partnerships with service providers which all helped the company pivot forward and build a better future for its drones.
Still, just like with passenger-carrying and freight drones, there are major policy concerns in regards to support drones. Questions about the impact on the workforce are big and in some cases more immediate than freight and passenger drones – mostly due to their advanced technology readiness level.