Drones have multiple applications for firefighting including scene monitoring, search and rescue, wild-firefighting, and damage assessment. A drone is a particularly good tool for firefighting due to several reasons. It is rapidly deployable and easily transportable. This allows a drone to be available at the scene and in the air much faster than a helicopter could. Another factor that make drones attractive to firefighters are their payload capabilities. The ability to carry a camera and thermal imaging system is invaluable to the needs of a firefighter trying to quickly survey a scene. Drones can carry floodlights to help illuminate urban fires as well. Drones are also useful in appraising damage after a burn has taken place.
With the wealth of sensors available as payloads on modern drones, the possibilities for agriculture are endless. Drones are primarily used for different types of analysis in agriculture. Drones can be used to produce a 3D map allowing farmers to assess soil and fields. Furthermore, drones aid in crop spraying by using a LiDAR system that measures distances so the drone can avoid collisions and precisely spray crops at the right altitude. Another sensor carried by drones that is super helpful in identifying the health of a plant is a near-infrared light (NIR). The NIR system does this by measuring the discrepancies in the amount of light reflected from a plant. This data can then be analyzed and the relative health of a plant determined. The combination of these capabilities will rapidly change the orthodoxy of crop management.
Drones’ ability to carry sensors that 3D model are the most valuable asset to the construction industry. No longer are untimely surveyors or manned aircraft necessary to evaluate the level of completion of a construction project. The 3D models that drones can produce are particularly useful in measuring stockpiles, compiling topographical maps, and making structural models.
Drone inspection capabilities are crucial to the oil and gas industry. Traditional inspection includes shutting down production, building scaffolding, and maneuvering an inspector into dangerous locales to search for corrosion or invasive vegetation. Drones cut the time required and dollars spent to inspect offshore oil rigs. Their data gathering abilities are unmatched by human inspectors and drones represent a massive cost and time savings for offshore drilling companies.
Although commercial drones possess the technological ability to revolutionize the industries described above, the political aspect has not been answered thus far. Public support for drones remains strong but skeptics have prevailed and current regulations are slowing down the adoption of drones in commercial industries.