Drones are becoming increasingly popular with midsize companies (annual revenues of $50 million to $1 billion) and large companies (annual revenues greater than $1 billion), according to a study released by Verizon unit Skyward. The study predicts by the end of 2018, drone use could reach 12 percent among $50 million plus companies and 19 percent of surveyed professionals said their companies already used drones or plan to do so in the near future.
Overall the study showed that 10 percent of all surveyed companies used drones across all industries—the highest in construction and engineering with 35 percent—and 88 percent of companies that used drones saw a positive benefit in one year or less. Of those that use drones, more than nine in ten report that drones help their company capture more information, be more efficient, and save time; half report that their company’s bottom line would suffer if they did not use drones. More than four in five expect drone flights to increase year over year, three in four expect to increase spending on their drone program over the next 12 months, and drone adoption is expected to double, with nearly one in five companies using or expecting to use drones in the future.
Of those using drones, nearly two in five are using first-person view, more than one in five are using LiDAR (light detection and ranging) with drones, over one-third of companies plan to use drones to increase automation, and half say they do not plan to use drones to deliver payloads. Most company drone programs are small in size with fewer than five drones and one to four employees; 27 percent of respondent companies own 25 or more drones and 39 percent have 25 or more employees in their drone program.
Eighty-four percent of companies are expecting to increase flight volume in 2018; 51 percent conduct between one and nine per month and 41 percent report 10 or more flights per month. Most companies are keeping all elements of their drone program in house; 63 percent said they do not outsource any aspect—flights, data processing, or data analysis—or their drone operations. Spending varies but is becoming substantial; 39 percent of respondents reported spending $50,000 or more in 2017; 29 percent spent less than $10,000. Ninety-two percent said the benefits derived from their drone program exceeded the cost, but only 37 percent said drones helped them to create a new revenue stream. Drones were more likely to improve the efficiency and safety of ongoing operations.