Defense & Aerospace

Drones – the 21st Century’s Cash Cow?

Alfred Gilbert
Fri, 11 Aug 2017
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The broad uptake of drone technologies throughout a variety of commercial sectors and military branches has led many to believe that drones will be one of the most influential technologies of the 21st century.


With so much potential related to the technology and its application, many companies are now entering the race to make their mark on the field with innovative designs and functionalities of products. But where are drones actually being used, and what for?

What is a drone?

To start, a drone, or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is simply that. An aircraft without a human pilot onboard. Control of these systems is done manually via a remote human controller, or autonomously through onboard computer software. Drones are therefore capable of carrying out work that is considered too remote or dangerous for manned vehicles, allowing users to carry out tasks at lower risk (and usually lower costs) than that afforded by standard aircraft.


In the recent history of drones, the military has come to be a dominant user and discourse for understanding UAV usage. ‘A drone’ conjures up images of high flying, big-brother-esque eye’s in the sky, or silent attack machines, stealthily floating around distant lands.


Drones in today’s world

However, drones are now being used for many other uses, in a wide variety of sectors and industries. Below are our favourite examples:

Order Delivery: One of the highest profile potential uses for drones in commercial settings is in the delivery of items and products to buyers. The possibilities in this regard are seemingly endless, as long as the power and sophistication of drone technologies keeps improving at its current rates.

Contemporary drones are easily capable of carrying anything that a delivery man can. However, where the delivery driver is limited by traffic, roads, and silly human things like tiredness, the drone is not.

Drone technologies are therefore increasingly being considered a more efficient option than manned delivery.


Upholding the law: The drone, in part, is very similar to a security camera. Where the drone trumps the camera, however, is the fact that drones are mobile and adaptable, allowing users to survey large areas from a single instrument.

Not only that, using a drone for enforcement activities removes the need for physical presence, removing the need to risk the safety of security personnel.

Think of a drone is this regard as an airborne Robo-cop. Pretty intimidating right!


Exploration and relief efforts: Because drones can go places where humans cannot, many commentators are asking how these systems can be best used in terms of search and rescue. Combining the transportation abilities mentioned in order delivery, and the detailed vision relied upon for security, drones could be used to find and deliver lifesaving resources to those in need.

When considering the full spectrum of what a ‘drone’ is, underwater vehicles could also be used to help those in trouble on the sea, as was seen when Malaysia Airline Flight 370 went missing in 2014.


Moving Forwards

What the above shows is that already, we are find novel and exciting uses for drone technologies throughout a variety of sectors. This is not even mentioning uses seen within film-making, agriculture, and actual uses for transportation itself!


There are plenty of opportunities available not only for companies who are open-minded to drone applications within their operations, but for the actual manufacturers of said drones as well. Designing and engineering advanced and adaptable technologies may well bring in huge financial resources for developers. The race is on! Who is going to make the most of this exciting and important technology?

‘A drone’ conjures up images of high flying, big-brother-esque eye’s in the sky, or silent attack machines, stealthily floating around distant lands.

This article is courtesy the Royal Air Force 100 Event

To read more follow them on Linkedin or the RAF 100 news page.