COVID-19 is still completely changing many parts of everyday life for people around the world. Although most of the impacts are highly negative, some industries have really flourished (and for the better). For instance, drone services have accelerated immensely throughout the course of the pandemic. This may come as no surprise as drones can easily limit human to human contact, and ultimately help save lives.
“Drone Industry Insights projects the global market for drone technologies will reach $43.1 billion by 2024, up from $14.1 billion in 2018. That equates to a compound annual growth rate of 20.5%, easily outpacing CompTIA projections for the overall information technology industry (3-6% increases).”
Luckily, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is speeding up their drone regulation approval process. Of course, this is not to say they are disregarding safety. They are simply putting more resources in the approval procedure. You will see many new regulations being passed in the next 3 years and many are for COVID-19 related services such as food and equipment deliveries, building inspections, and many other critical use cases.
For instance, in Grand Forks, ND, the local Walmart began delivering goods via drones. All online shoppers in the area could choose to have groceries or medical supplies delivered by Flytrex, a drone start up company. The regulations passed quickly by the FAA and deliveries started in May.
The introduction of drones to everyday life has been slow to be accepted. When 1UP began in business almost 5 years ago there were questions surrounding invasion of privacy, surveillance, spying, and safety so many individuals were skeptical of the new technologies. That being said, drone services used during the pandemic have obviously increased. Now, many of those hesitant drone early adopters have seen the amazing services they can perform and are now accepting them in the category of business enterprise “tools.”
One of the top ways drones are used during the pandemic is for deliveries. This limits contact between people and helps promote social distancing. Drones have been utilized for both business to business as well as business to consumer deliveries. Drones can eliminate the necessity of interacting with a delivery driver. For example, there is a consortium in the UK that has begun tests of delivery of medical supplies to speed the process and cut wait times. First Medical Drone Delivery Network
Back in early 2020 and the beginning months of coronavirus, companies in China began using drones to deliver medical supplies between hospitals. Healthcare professionals treating COVID patients now had a contactless, safe way to receive goods. Other countries, including the US, have started to use this process throughout the year.
In North Carolina, Zipline was approved by the FAA to send supplies and protective equipment to hospitals using two separate routes.
Drones have been used by Amazon and other large tech companies to deliver food and other goods to customers. Aerial deliveries are very efficient and fast. This lets customers get the instant gratification they desire for online purchases. They also improve the challenging “last mile” of deliveries. Though since the start of the pandemic, many other smaller companies and start-ups have started doing this as regulations have been passed quicker. Drones have been used to deliver take out or curb-side pickup orders to help each customer feel as safe as possible.
Many industries slowed or completely halted during the pandemic. Yet, drones for the construction and infrastructure services never took a break. Drones are already used to survey projects, but are utilized even since the pandemic. This provides key asset management, integration to BIM (Building Information Management) systems, construction progress reports, etc.. Often, controlling a drone is a solo job, taking away the need for extra personnel on site. The footage can then be reviewed by a remote team. They can make sure everything is up to code, assets have been delivered, ‘as builts’ are as designed, etc.
Take for example, a project 1UP Drones was contracted to perform this past year. As the pandemic devastated the country, temporary hospitals were constructed to keep up with the thousands of COVID patients. In Denver, the Colorado Convention Center turned into one of these treatment centers. 1UP Drones captured the entire project that needed to be done safely and quickly. Take a look at a video recap below. 18 days of construction!
Building on the previous section, remote working became the “new normal” in 2020. Companies adjusted to this new way of working, whether they wanted to or not. Industries were able to adopt new processes to help their employees work from home or stay socially distanced while in the office. Unsurprisingly, drones were a huge help to make this possible.
Autonomous Drone Solutions (ADS) was launched in July 2020 (and is one of 1UP’s best clients). The company saw a need for improvement in the NDT (non destructive technology) inspection industry. There was a necessity for experienced wind industry professionals to offer autonomous drone inspections rather than drone operators with little to no experience in the renewable energy industry.
Garrett, the president of Autonomous Drone Solutions, had a decade of experience in the wind industry as a technician, engineering specialist, operations manager and business development manager. Much of his time was spent climbing turbines, doing NDT inspections and repairs. He knows the requirements to operate safely and effectively in the renewable energy sector as well as the day-to-day operations. ADS provides drone, borescope, uptower inspection, and repair services and they seamlessly work with site managers, technicians and back office executives. They are a service provider that offers actionable data to their customers in a personalized package to fit each customer’s specific needs.
Being able to keep distance with onsite personnel is an advantage of inspections powered by drones and a single pilot versus other methods of inspection. “We were awarded a contract in Hawaii at the end of 2020. Due to state restrictions we were required to have multiple negative COVID tests in order to enter the state. We also had to add a pandemic response policy to our safety protocols.” These additions ensured that they would be in compliance with the plans put in place with many of their customers and large utility companies.
As a result of COVID, the industry takes necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of on site personnel. One of these changes was limiting on site access to visitors without advanced approval. When working in close conditions site technicians and personnel had to wear masks. Since much of the work of a drone pilot by its very nature is solo we were able to social distance on site with no disruptions to the services the ADS provides.
Major corporations like Amazon and Walmart have already been using drones within their warehouses. However, once COVID hit, more businesses have started using them. During the year of social distancing and remote working, companies have needed to get creative with the technologies they utilize. Working with drones throughout the warehouse can not only limit employees needed on site, but also easily automate stock.
This year, drones were also used more widely by police and other organizations for surveillance. Not surprisingly, this is a more controversial use and in many places has been banned. Drones were used to scan areas to ensure citizens were practicing social distancing. They also had the ability to scan for temperatures or coughing to see if someone was infected with the virus.
In Westport, Connecticut, authorities began using Draganfly drones to scan crowds to check for COVID symptoms. Soon after this tactic was made public, outrage sparked that this was a major invasion of privacy. The Westport Police Department quickly walked this initiative back.
Although this is not as common in the US, drones have been used to spray disinfectant and scan crowds with a thermal camera in stadiums and arenas. Drones can disinfect large areas quickly, rather than having a team spend hours cleaning the entire facility.
Drone services have increased across the board for many industries. Some are new adopters of this technology, and others have just accelerated their use of them. Drones have helped solve a lot of social distancing problems for workers. Their new found popularity is likely here to stay as drones help projects of all kinds move quickly with wonderful accuracy.
At 1UP Drones, we are here to help you perform remote business operations seamlessly. Whether you are searching for a drone to augment your operations, need us to perform a remote inspection for you, or just looking to learn more about the drone industry, we are here for you.
We have many drones for sale in our store as well as professional services and training to meet every aerial requirement.