Michael Mazur, Consulting Partner and head of PwC Drone Powered Solutions delivered one of the Keynote addresses at the Commercial UAV Expo Europe today in Amsterdam, naming 7 trends that the investment firm sees shaping the industry.
1) Telecom will be a major beneficiary of the drone industry.
Mazur says that while analysts predict that revenue for the telecom industry will drop by 5% per year for the foreseeable future, drones may offer the companies a new revenue stram. Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) systems will require consistent communication between drones and air traffic or other UTM services; the massive amounts of data generated by commercial drone missions needs to be communicated somehow – and telecom companies will reap the benefits.
2) Energy Grid Operators are Scaling Up Autonomous Detection of Failure Modes
Another major beneficiary of the commercial drone industry? Energy grid operators – and consumers. Grid operators are using drones on a growing scale to keep the grid up and running, moving from a reactive maintenance model to a preventive maintenance model. Using LiDAR and photogrammetry, grid operators can create digital models of the grid; using AI-powered analysis tools, they are able to monitor vegetation growth, identify failure modes, and create preventative maintenance plans.
3) Drones and photogrammetry are becoming standard tools in the mining industry.
“The time to do an open mine survey has moved from two weeks to two days using drones,” points out Mazur. In an industry where remote and difficult terrain is standard, drones make sense for many applications. Mining regulations require that mines be monitored even after they are no longer working – so making that process as inexpensive as possible is critical to profitability. Stockpile measurement through photogrammetry is another drone mission being accepted as standard in the industry.
4) UAV urban mobility pilots are spreading across Europe.
Drone taxis aren’t just science fiction. “In the EU, traffic congestion in urban areas is currently estimated to cost 100 billion pounds per year,” says Mazur. In Europe’s historic and crowded cities, many urban planning experts see expanding traffic up – using drones as part of an integrated and multimodal transportation system – as the only option to improving the situation.
5) UTM models are being refined and rolled out across Europe.
Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) is a critical step in the growth of the drone industry. UTM is not far in the future, however – the models are currently being implemented across Europe, influencing the global drone community.
6) There is rapid growth in counter drone technology.
It’s a reality of the growth of drone technology – the growth of rogue drones causing problems in sensitive areas. Mazur jokes: “Counter drone technology is growing faster than DJI revenue.” With recent highly publicized drone incidents like the Gatwick Airport fiasco this Christmas, regulators are anxious to support the development – and the implementation – of counter drone technologies.
7) BVLOS will become standard in Europe.
“The country of Malta had just announced a complete survey of all the roads in the country over the last 2 months with no accidents,” says Mazur. Mazur believes that drone flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) will become standard in Europe. BVLOS flight opens commercial drone operations like large scale infrastructure inspections, remote operations, and drone delivery.
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