DroneDeploy Delves into Latest Trends in Commercial UAS

Exploring data from 10 million mapped acres by its drone users in more than 160 countries, DroneDeploy has revealed its latest industry trends for the commercial unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) industry.

San Francisco-based DroneDeploy, which provides a cloud software platform for commercial drone users, has revealed its third “Commercial Drone Industry Trends Report.” The original report, released a year ago, provided insight into global trends in commercial drone use based on real-world mapping data.

According to DroneDeploy, its new report underscores the tremendous growth in commercial drone adoption over the last year.

Whether monitoring construction progress, scouting for crop damage or assessing insurance claims, drone mapping is becoming an integral part of the workflow, the company says; indeed, 60% of DroneDeploy users are creating drone maps at least once a week.

“More businesses are adopting drones to capture data across industries such as agriculture, construction, surveying, mining and more,” says Mike Winn, CEO of the company. “It’s clear that as our users experience greater productivity and ROI, they, in turn, are increasing the frequency of drone mapping and further integrating drone data into day-to-day business operations.”

Innovation in drone hardware accelerates, making year-old drones obsolete

The vast majority (97%) of drone mapping is being performed using multi-rotor drones, rather than fixed-wing drones, according to the company’s user data. Although newer drone hardware providers like Autel and Yuneec have entered the space, none of them seem to have made significant inroads against industry front-runner DJI, claims DroneDeploy.

Despite the large number of companies offering high-end enterprise drones, relatively inexpensive DJI Phantom and Mavic drones account for nearly 80% of all mapping by DroneDeploy users. Only five months after launch, the DJI Phantom 4 dethroned the DJI Phantom 3 Pro as the most commonly used drone for mapping, and as of mid-March, the Mavic and Phantom 4 Pro were racing neck and neck in popularity, the company says.

Additionally, approximately 20% of DroneDeploy users have mapped with multiple drones or sensors – representing a 12% increase year-over-year.

Drone service providers offering mapping and analysis emerge as key industry beneficiaries

The report suggests that drone mapping has driven job creation worldwide by having contributed an estimated $150 million in economic value over 10 million acres mapped. Contributing to this uptick has been the major influx of new commercial drone pilots (29,000) since August, when the FAA finalized its Part 107 rule for commercial UAS operations.

Though some of these newly minted pilots are hired in-house by companies within the industries they serve, many are starting new drone service businesses as they attempt to cash in on the new market opportunity, says DroneDeploy. In fact, self-identified drone service providers make up the largest industry among drone mappers, followed by agriculture, surveying and construction.

These drone service providers play a leading role as drone technology experts and advocates and, in turn, introduce larger companies to the benefits of drone mapping, the company says.

In addition, the added value of drone mapping over traditional photo and video translates to greater revenue for commercial drone pilots that offer these services. On average, commercial UAS pilots who offer drone-based mapping, 3D modeling and analytics are able to charge 16% more per hour compared to other providers that do not, according to DroneDeploy.

Connected ecosystem makes drone data more powerful

An important development in unlocking the power of drone-captured data has been DroneDeploy’s third-party App Market, a growing suite of over 30 applications that can be installed within the DroneDeploy user interface.

Thirty-five percent of active DroneDeploy users have now installed apps from the App Market. Since the launch of the tool last November, there have been more than 22,000 total app installs, the company says.

The App Market is also driving a new wave of mobile and IoT app innovation by enabling third-party developers to monetize and distribute custom-created drone apps across DroneDeploy’s commercial drone platform.

“2017 will be the biggest year for the commercial drone industry to date,” adds Winn. “We can expect to see a dramatic shift in operations as larger companies invest in drone technology and the drone ecosystem blossoms with the introduction of key new hardware and software partners.”


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