The Commercialisation of Drones

Drones have far more uses than what most people think. Initially the word “drone” conjures up images of unmanned military units for use in battle, but that’s not all they are used for. Drones can and will be used for wide variety of functions and activities within the commercial sector.

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About Drones
All drones are essentially unmanned units controlled by personnel remotely on the ground. The commercial units are much smaller than its military counterpart and usually weighs less than 20 kg. These drones are used by a number of individuals and businesses, and for a number of reasons. Current uses of drones include being primarily used for film and photography for companies such as ITV and the BBC, amongst others.Small drones can be purchased by just about anyone, although the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) dictates that drones are classified as an aircraft. Therefore, any type of commercial use will require the authorisation of the CAA prior to use.

Drones Potential

The future of drones in commercial use will be in the delivery sector. Where big name companies such as Amazon and Google looking into drone technology to one day provide delivery services that is both fast and efficient. Another is the Australian company, Zookal that has also partnered up with Flirtey to develop similar delivery drones.

There is a huge potential for many uses of drones across a many different sectors. This can range from farmers using the drones to perform various aerial duties such as dusting crops to rescue services using drones to gain access to vantage points in a search that never would have been possible otherwise.

The Future

We are still quite a number of years off from drones being used in certain commercial sectors, as there are many factors to take into consideration before such unmanned units can be let loose upon the public. The main concern is the factor for safety.

Drones have many potential uses ranging from military applications, delivery, rescue services and much more. With drones having the ability to perform tasks much more efficiently than the current methods, the increased use of these unmanned units filling the skies is imminent.

Transport Robots

Delivering goods using robots seems like a nifty way of getting packages directly to the customer’s front door. Over the next few years we may very well see this method of delivery become ubiquitous.

Looking forward into the future, self-driving trucks and vans will be used as mobile base stations, with flying drones leaving and returning to the vehicle’s cab after drop-off for smaller packages, and walking robots used for larger deliveries.The transport robot will most likely come in several variants. Robots with wheels are generally more stable, but uneven ground and stairs can be problematic. Nevertheless, in urban areas they have their niche.

More likely for most delivery options will be the bipedal walking robot, able to navigate steps, ramps, and broken ground just like a human. Unlike four legged robots, the bipedal form is able to use existing delivery entrances, elevators, or passages without modification to the building.

Robots that walk on two legs are still several years away, as evidenced by DARPA challenges where untethered robots frequently fall over for no reason, but the software they use is progressing at game changing pace.

Evidence of how disruptive transport robots are going to be simply means looking at the investments Google have made in their own driverless cars and over a dozen robotics companies, including Boston Dynamics.

The Japanese and Chinese are also close behind, and it’s telling that the world’s first emotional robot with arms sold out within a minute of going on sale. Priced at US$1600 and monthlies of US$200, the robot is primarily intended for human interaction but could easily be used for interoffice deliveries.

Delivering goods by robot isn’t going to be restricted to major corporations if these prices continue or decrease. A number of robot manufacturers are now designing and testing out of the box robots that small businesses could use.

They will be of particular interest to fresh food retailers, flower deliveries, printing companies, dry cleaners, and any service that provides quick turn-around times. Robot delivery is about to go mainstream even for single owner stores.