Commercial drones have made a dent in worldwide commerce, valued at $609 million in 2014. But its role as a potential technology disruptor is just getting started. Commercial drone value is expected to skyrocket nearly 700% over the next six years to $4.8 billion. This, according to a recent report from Radian Insights.
“This is a sizable market growth with oil and gas mapping, utility line inspection, package delivery, and agricultural applications accounting for virtually all the unit sales,” the report states. “Drones can provide more information at less cost than a human inspection team can.”
The report also notes that drone use in the U.S. is currently much more restrictive than some other countries, putting America at certain competitive disadvantages in the agriculture industry.
“Japan and Australia have been using drones in agriculture since the 1980s,” according to the report. “Worldwide markets are evolving for several compelling applications.”
For example, drones in high-value crops could use imaging technology to target strawberries and other fresh food to be picked only when they have been perfectly ripened. Radian envisions a future where these high-value crops are also spot-sprayed and even harvested on a mass scale.
In row crops, drones can be deployed as high-tech scouting tools, collecting thermal, NDVI and other helpful image types. For livestock producers, drones can track animals in a large field, check for broken fences and more.
As vendors continue to make improvements, the scope of drone abilities will only increase, according to Radian, and could “fundamentally change how agriculture is conducted.”
The FAA could establish formalized rules and regulations for flying small commercial drones by June 2016.
For an industry-leading look at how drones are and will be used in agriculture, visit www.FarmWithDrones.com.