The buzz may be all about drone delivery, but the industry that is actually adopting drones the most is the surveying industry.
A whopping 79% of commercial drones in Europe are used for surveying and cartography, according to a June 2018 study conducted by Drone Industry Insights, a Germany-based market research firm.
That means about eight in ten drones flying in the skies above Europe for commercial use are carrying out surveying jobs.
Drone Industry Insights asked 350 companies or groups about their drone industry applications, usage and experience. The survey responders were made up of 43% commercial drone users, 38% drone manufacturers and 19% research institutes or universities. All survey respondents resided or worked in any of the EU member states.
Many companies use the same drone for multiple purposes (ie. surveying and inspection), which is why the total numbers add up to more than 100%.
The report confirms largely what drone industry experts have been saying for years: drones replace jobs that are otherwise to costly, time-consuming or dangerous to do.
“Surveying and building inspections can thus be performed quickly, easily and cost-effectively, because scaffolding, building climbers and the intensive deployment of personnel on site for days on end are no longer required, unlike in conventional processes,” according to the report. “The density of the data captured is also far greater, while the outlay is lower overall. What’s more, drones can now do all this in a much shorter timeframe.”
On the other hand, while it sometimes feels like 99% of the media coverage around drones has to do with delivery, just 5% of drones today in Europe are used for transport and logistics. Europe has made some headway in the world of drone delivery. Silicon Valley-based drone delivery startup Matternet has worked with the Swiss Post to deliver packages in Switzerland, while Flytrex has carried out tests of drone delivery in Iceland.
And where surveying is already a huge application for drones, industry insiders expect the applications for drones in surveying to only get bigger. Users expect a 67% growth rate in the surveying drones industry, and manufacturers are only slightly less bullish, expecting a 62% growth rate in the drones for surveying application.
“There is no doubt that drones will become established in the day-to-day work of surveyors and inspectors,” according to the report by DroneII. “They are the optimum tool for gathering large volumes of highly precise data. It is now up to manufacturers to take on the challenges of data handling, assist with the integration of procedures and offer appropriate packages on the market.”
Companies are increasingly working to deliver all-in-one packages to assist with surveying or mapping. DroneDeploy offers a software that is intended to easily integrate with DJI products, while Yuneec recently announced an integration with drone mapping software Pix4D, which is actually owned by another drone manufacturer, Parrot. The French drone maker, which makes the Parrot Bebop drone, also sells its own all-in-one drone packages that include both the software and their own drones.