Drone technologies, like other types of technologies, continue to offer exciting experiences to our lives. Recent developments in drone technologies have redesigned the way operations are done in different sectors of the economy. Sectors that have a heavy reliance on mobility and high quality of data continue (and things can be expected to be better in the coming days) to reap significant benefits from the use of drones. These unmanned air vehicles are taking over roles that were previously performed by human beings. As a result, various industries have shown the willingness to adopt the use of drones as a strategy of improving efficiency as well as reducing the cost of business operations. Despite the various opportunities and benefits that drone technologies offer, challenges exist regarding their safety and deployment. This can be seen in civilian aircraft disruptions and unreliability in making deliveries, among others limitations.
Advantages of Drone Technologies
Drones can be deployed in various operations during both natural and human-induced disasters to save lives. Most relief and emergency rescue services in the United States are conducted by law enforcement officers, fire protection units, the military and other personnel from special agencies (DeBusk, 2009).These first responders need to be equipped with the appropriate aids that would enable them to reach disaster-stricken areas within the shortest time possible so as to enhance chances of saving lives. As Camara (2014) explains, in disaster scenarios, the first hours of response are critical for the rescue teams since they increase the chances of rescuing more lives. Quick responses also increase chances of early administration of first aid services to the affected persons as well as helps to evacuate survivors before the disaster-related impact escalate and cause further damage. At this point, the drones come in handy. Scenarios in disasters that have hit the United States show that drone technology would have saved more lives. Would the death toll have been lower during the 9/11 attacks if drones were available? There is a higher probability to the affirmative considering the effectiveness of drones in such scenarios.
For better coordination of recovery efforts among disaster response teams, drones can access areas that human beings may not reach. The higher accessibility capabilities of drones help the rescue teams in several ways. Through sophisticated technological enhancements, drones can survey disaster areas, create real-time maps and images of the affected areas and relay information to coordination centers for action (Camara, 2014; Boyette, 2015).The information obtained helps rescue teams in determining the ways of approaching the rescue efforts. Additionally, through infrared cameras, sensors, and heart-detectors, drone drones can penetrate to remote areas of the disaster, identify hotspots and specific areas that show human presence, and transmit such information to the rescuers(Boyette,2015).In such situations, rescue teams can manage to reach victims early, thereby increasing the chances of rescuing more people during disasters. Boyette (2015) notes that nascent drone technology was useful in coordinating rescue efforts when Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.
Weather forecasting continues to benefit greatly from drone technology. Drones can spend less duration and cover more distance in the atmosphere scanning and sampling information about the atmosphere than the piloted aircrafts. A large amount of data collected in this manner can be crucial for carrying out weather forecasts The more the amount of data the drones collect, the near to accuracy of the weather predictions(Richardson, 2014). As such, meteorologists can reduce the costs of collecting data, which is much higher when conventional aircrafts are deployed. According to Richardson (2014), drones offer the potential to fly into storm systems such as hurricanes and tornadoes. Flying into storm systems enables meteorologists to collect data on atmospheric temperature, pressure and humidity which are essential for more accurate tornado and hurricane predictions. As a result, relief and emergency agencies would access accurate information for disaster response and implement preparedness measures which, in turn, could lead to a significant reduction in the number of deaths resulting from weather-related disasters.
In infrastructural development areas such as bridge and building constructions, drones have been deployed to overcome construction issues related to human judgment. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) impact on the safety of the construction process through the provision of building tools that were unavailable to the industry until recently (Mitchell, 2016).Due to the capability to fly to areas that are inaccessible by human beings, drones can be used to ensure that workers at the construction sites adhere to safe building practices. The UAVs gather data through sensor cameras and relay any faulty issues to the construction teams (PwC, 2016). The flying cameras replace the reliance on the human eyes to survey rooftops, high-up constructions, and underside of bridges. For instance, drones can be dispatched to collect data and images remotely from the underside of the bridges (Dillow, 2016). As a result, the information obtained can be scrutinized to avert any adverse outcomes.
Before the construction begins, drones can be used to provide high-quality information that enables clients and contractors to make better choices when preparing to carry out a particular project. At the pre-construction phase, drones can make significant improvements to the speed and quality of the design process (PwC, 2016).Getting things right at the onset of the project is crucial as it would affect the subsequent major events that would result in satisfactory project outcomes. According to PwC (2016), the ability of drones to capture high-resolution images and videos and other data enables 3D modeling which provides great insights into the status of the construction site. Such information is essential for better decision making before the beginning of the construction activities. For instance, it would enable the investors and property owners to assess the viability of the projects that they intend to explore. Besides, data obtained from the construction site enables contractors to create Digital Terrain Models which ensure better valuation outcomes of the projects.
Efficiency benefits result from economical use of building materials throughout the entire process of construction. Dillow (2016) indicates that 15 percent of materials availed at construction sites end up as waste in landfills due to mismanagement of scheduling and purchasing processes. Additionally, construction related waste account for between 25% and 40% of the annual solid waste in the United States. Considering that the spending of the construction industry is in the region of $1.13 trillion a year, estimates of the total losses incurred as a result of inefficiencies amounts to at least $160 in a year (Dillow, 2016). This means that the construction industry could save billions of dollars if small gains can be made in regards to efficiency as evidenced by the use of drones. For instance, the use of drones replaces manned aircrafts to conduct surveys as well as the use of cranes to do inspections of structures (PwC, 2016). The new approaches reduce expenses of contractors and that of the clients. In effect, the cost savings are transferred to other sectors of the economy.
Drone technology has lessened the burden of project managers in overseeing construction works. Project managers can rely on the data and images obtained by drones to keep themselves updated on the progress of the projects without having to stay on the construction sites (PwC, 2016). For this reason, the deployment of UAVs can allow project managers supervise multiple projects at a much cheaper cost in terms of time and other resources.
Information obtained from drones can also be useful to the clients in so far as the project progress is concerned. Automatic processing of data capabilities of drones gives investors quick and reliable access to a voluminous amount of data in regards to the construction activities. This real-time information allows investors to analyze the construction process and make timely interventions that ensure the project delivers the expectations (Mitchell, 2016). According to PwC (2016), monitoring of the implementation of the contract engagement reduces the chances of disputes between the contractor and the client through the constant updates of the progress of the project. Additionally, the digital documentation of the construction process can be used as evidence in settlement of contractor and client disputes in court.
The presence of drones on the construction sites can be beneficial in protecting against theft of construction equipment or materials as well as ward off trespassers. Through telecommunication and broadcasting masts, drones conduct inventory and stock-taking of the materials at the construction sites (Dillow, 2016). This ability is has been enhanced by the barcode and radio frequency technologies which enable digital documentation of the site inventory (PwC, 2016).The effect of digital stocktaking is enormous. It allows faster inventory assessments to be done since the process is not as tedious as in the case of deploying human beings. As a result, the contractors save a significant amount of costs in terms of time, finances and safety of the individuals involved in the process.
The application of drones in the transportation industry offers several opportunities for the business community. The potential of the industry has encouraged several individuals to seek compliance requirements with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).The FAA (2016) estimates that drone operators-for-hire would exceed the nations number of private pilots by the end of 2017.As of August 29, 2016, 3,300 individuals had signed up to take tests for procuring drone pilot licenses. The law permits any persons aged 16 years and above to fly drones for hire (Levin, 2016).These expected numbers would play a significant role in influencing transport activities.
Transport of parcels and spare-parts is one of the areas that are expected to benefit from drone technologies. Drones can be expected to deliver packages at the predetermined points with little human effort (Levin, 2016). Transport companies have also tested the viability of delivery of spare parts. According to PwC (2016), Maersk, the company that runs a fleet of tankers, expects to launch drone transport systems in the delivery of its spare parts to workers. The new transportation systems will create new customer experiences as well lead to significant reduction of transports due to minimal human interventions in the transportation process. Traffic on the surface systems can also be expected to reduce.
Medical logistics also expects to benefit from drone application solutions. Already, tests have been conducted in the United States to assess the effectiveness of delivering medical supplies (PwC, 2016).Drones offer good prospects of reaching areas where other means of transport cannot access or take a lot of time to reach. As PwC (2016) observe, delivery of medical supplies to the rural areas is one of the aspects of medical logistics that would gain more attention from drone developers due to the low airspace risks and the minimal inaccessibility challenges. American high-tech entrepreneurs have demonstrated the workability of this method. For instance, Zipline Company has established a drone system that delivers med...
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