Autonomous drones are moving beyond purely military applications and gaining a foothold in the enterprise. They’re used to collect images and measurements, carry out inspections and deliveries, and even broadcast events. However, they’re unlike any kind of vehicle that’s come before them, and managing them effectively brings new challenges for businesses.
What is it?
Autonomous drones are light UAVs, used by businesses to move stock and materials, monitor large areas, and perform complex inspection tasks in areas humans can’t safely reach. Increasingly, they’re also being used as a fast way to deliver products to customers.
Drones as a Platform (DaaP) offers a convenient way to manage large fleets of these drones together, so businesses can use them at scale in situations where hundreds of drones are required to work alongside each other. Drones as a Service (DaaS) is making it easier to acquire and maintain these fleets, delivering them as a flexible service that removes the need for large upfront investments.
Together, DaaP and DaaS are making it easier than ever for businesses to apply autonomous drones in their operations, and harness their benefits at a manageable cost.
What’s in for you?
The main advantage of using drones is that they can perform essential tasks without direct human input. Activities such as routine inspections and moving products can be entirely automated.
Drones are also incredibly flexible in where they can be applied, and what they can do. They can venture into dangerous industrial locations, survey entire fields of crops in minutes, and move quickly and safely around warehouse environments.
Together, these qualities make drones a compelling cost-saver for many businesses, while also improving remote monitoring accuracy and employee safety.
That opens up new possibilities in any field that demands a large amount of processing power. In research, quantum computers are being experimented with to extract insights from colossal data sets, and run projects at a scale never before seen. It also has the potential to enable incredibly detailed and reliable simulations, helping organizations experiment and innovate with confidence.
What are the trade offs?
Autonomous drones are an entirely new technology; there’s no precedent for how they should be managed. So, if businesses want to apply them, they have to find their own way to manage them effectively at scale.
Drones are also increasingly regulated by governments around the world. There are restrictions on where, when, and how they can be used, and new regulations are emerging continuously. This makes investing heavily in the technology risky for some businesses. However, the DaaS model is helping lower the barrier to entry.
How is it being used?
In construction and architecture, autonomous drones are helping teams monitor onsite operations, evolve designs and blueprints on the fly, and create detailed renderings before construction begins.
In retail, Amazon’s Prime Air program was the first major drone delivery project to gain global attention. While many questioned its viability, it has proven that drones can be used to make rapid short-distance deliveries.
And in warehouse management, drones are joining fleets of ground-based autonomous vehicles to create entirely automated warehouses. Their ability to reach products on high shelves and move freely around large environments makes them the perfect solution for moving products around warehouses.