Drones have not yet invaded our airspace, but it's only a matter of time. According to an estimate by PWC, the global market for commercial applications for drone technology is to exceed $127 billion. Drone use has enormous potential advantages in many fields, including insurance, agriculture, energy, health care, law enforcement and product delivery, and today they are being used in commercial deployments.
With the combination of robotics, and drones, the operators believe that this could yield significant advantages for a variety of industries, including, construction, manufacturing and agriculture.
In agriculture drones are helping increase efficiencies in soil and field analysis, planting, spraying and monitoring crops, and irrigation.
Drones are now gaining artificial intelligence (AI), and drone-to-drone and other networking capabilities, and as these capabilities mature, so will business interest in the technology.
What is a Drone? A drone, or an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), is an aircraft without a human pilot aboard using a ground-based controller, and a system of communications between the two.
The first Drones (UAVs) began a complicated life as military surveillance tool, and ultimately a forward weaponry platform, and are currently being used by various militaries.
In the retail space, drones began their lifecycle as a toy, which has now evolved into crucial piece of kit for the media, amateur and professional photographers/videographers to film large events by sending camera-equipped drones into the sky.
Various Use Cases for Drones
(A) Insurance: Using drones and blockchain in an insurance model is surprisingly increasing, and according to Puneet Bjaedwaj, SVP of digital analytics at Chubb Security, the company has already deployed drones.
In 2017, drones were initially used to inspect ‘roof damage’ but when Hurricane Harvey and Irma together triggered 741,433 property damage claims as of September 30, 2017, it became apparent that drones were much more of a practical solution as the insurance companies did not not have enough boots on the ground to inspect the vast area of damage. It was then determined to deploy drones which could capture images and then it could be assessed.
With innovation now at the heart of many insurance companies, and the deployment of blockchain, UAVs and AI now being used, the role that humans will play during a claims process will all be automated. Software (AI) Bots will interact with policy holders, UAVs will capture site footage, all traced and managed on the blockchain. Deep learning machines will analyse the data, and present a resolution, which may then be finally assessed by a claims manager from the insurance company who then will make a final assessment based on all the facts presented in a neat and complete package.
(B) Power & Infrastructure Monitoring
eSmart systems has modified pickup trucks with drones which are ready to be deployed. In 2017, the Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA) requested their help to restore power in the aftermath of Irma. The drones themselves have image recognition intelligence to recognize power-line system components—including insulators, top hats, and masts—so utilities such as the JEA can quickly learn the extent of the damage and alert their crews to hazardous situations.
(C) Law Enforcement
- Search & rescue
The most common use of drones in law enforcement is search and rescue, which is similar to drones deployed in Fire and Rescue operations. As drones gain better batteries, and more power to carry heavier payloads and the addition of specialised equipment such as FLIR cameras, they are helping law enforcement locate individuals faster.
- Suspect Pursuit/Hostage Situation
Law enforcement have been using drones for suspect pursuit, and hostage situations using FLIR thermal cameras and ActiveTrack, to enable officers to locate and monitor suspects quickly and efficiently.
- Scene Recreation
Scene recreation, is simply having a drone in the sky, in a surveillance and record mode, and using specialised software such as Pix4d, provide vital information and possible evidence during ongoing investigations.
Below are various start-ups, and blockchain based companies deploying drones in real world environments:
AERO Token, is an Ethereum-based blockchain technology that will enable a drone highway infrastructure within the United States. In the United States, and most western world countries drone operators need permission to fly at low-altitude over private property. AERO Token’s solution would allow hosts (i.e. property owners) to authorise their property for commercial drone Right-of-Way operations. Complemented with AERO Network, which will host the navigable airspace for commercial drone service providers, utilising the blockchain to broadcast available airspace, match hosts with drone service providers and ensure compensation to appropriate AERO Network participants.
AirMap is the world’s leading provider of airspace information and services for unmanned aircraft, commonly known as drones. Developed by experts in drone technology, aviation, and policy, AirMap’s cutting-edge technology transforms airspace below 500 feet to create an interconnected drone ecosystem. AirMap provides accurate, reliable, and trustworthy low-altitude navigational data and communication tools to the drone industry: inventors of drones & drone technology, drone operators, and airspace stakeholders. AirMap has a rapidly expanding global network of hundreds of partners and thousands of app users.
Blockchain Taxi’s mission is simple: to create trustless taxi trips and make future passenger air travel safe. By combining decades of flight data stored on an immutable blockchain ledger, Blockchain Taxi will become the backbone of a smart contract ecosystem that can be used by regulators and private companies alike to facilitate safe passenger taxi air travel. The Blockchain Taxi application will combine decades of flight data from manned flights to create a foundation that can be utilized by passenger drone manufacturers to build AI flight technology that has been vetted and proven safe.
In 2016, San Francisco based company, Chronicled showcased its drone prototype solution which is interoperable between the internet of things (IOT) and using public Ethereum blockchain with a BLE identity chip, allowing it to self-automate package delivery. This allows the drone to “self-authenticate with a computer-controlled window and gain access to a private residence in order to deliver a package,” said Chronicled.
Dorado is a next-generation on-demand “UBER” food delivery company, with plans to deliver anything the customer wants via drones. Dorado’s HyperLocal Logistics platform on blockchain connects customers with local network of human couriers, drones, robots who can deliver anything from any store or restaurant in minutes.
Founded by public safety professionals, Skyfire Consulting believes that America's First Responders are the backbone upon which the US was built. Skyfire is the leading public safety-specific sUAS company in the country, offering organisations the equipment, flight training and ground courses, grant assistance, and FAA consultation necessary for jurisdictional COA, while minimising liability.
UPS tested the use of drones for residential delivery for the first time in Tampa, Florida. The company demonstrated an octocopter launching from the roof of a hybrid electric delivery van, making a delivery, then returning to re-dock on the van which had moved to a new location further down the road.