BANGKOK, 28 December 2016 – The global market for business services using drones is expected to rise to more than $127 billion in 2020 from an estimated $2 billion now, PwC says.
Infrastructure, agriculture, and transportation are key industries that will spur growth in the market for drone services, according to Clarity from above — PwC’s global report on the commercial applications of drone technology.
Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, Lead Partner for PwC Thailand’s consulting services, said that from delivering goods in just half an hour to verifying insurance claims and watering crops in farmland, drone service solutions are now offering an even wider range of services.
“The potential applications of what drones can do today is massive,” Vilaiporn said. “With drone service solutions, companies can create new, endless business and operation models in a cost-effective way.”
PwC has set up its global centre of excellence, Drone Powered Solutions, in Poland which uses drones and data analytics to help clients solve business issues.
Vilaiporn said that non-military drones are transforming industries such as agriculture, media and entertainment. They’re making inroads into sectors that require both mobility and high quality data.
One of the primary uses of drones is to supervise ongoing investments and maintaining existing infrastructure projects such as finding cracks in tarmac or in bridges.
The infrastructure industry has the best prospects for drone applications, with a total addressable market value of $45.2 billion by 2020.
Drones are also used in transport for last-mile services where flying vehicles replace postal carriers in hard-to-reach locations.
In agriculture, they’re used to gather and analyse data on crops quickly, and to carry out precise spraying on plants.
“Large-scale capital projects, infrastructure maintenance and agriculture can all benefit greatly from the integration of drones into day-to-day business.
“Insurance and mining will also find potential process improvements as they gain new levels of data quality and accessibility,” Vilaiporn added.
The future of drones
Vilaiporn commented that although businesses globally are increasingly using drones to enhance data processing and accessibility, they’re concerned about the need to have transparent rules on how and where drones can be used, specifically what needs to be done to guarantee the safety and efficiency of drone operations.
Based on the PwC study, Poland is leading the way in developing regulations that can guarantee a business-friendly legal environment. They include required training for pilots, license for BVLOS (beyond visual line of sight) flights, and insurance required for commercial flights, among others.
In 2013, Poland became the first country in the world to introduce a complete legal framework and institutions regulating the commercial use of drones.
“As for Thailand, drones are not just for military applications, but are a tool for businesses,” Vilaiporn said.
“For many years, we see drones being used mostly for photography and movies. But now, with their broader functions, we’re starting to see other industries, like transport, insurance and agriculture (even solar farms) turning to drones to explore their full potential.”
In July 2015, the Ministry of Transport of Thailand announced regulations to limit and control the use of drones by businesses and individuals.
“As the possibilities for commercial drones develop, clearer legislation and policies will be one of the key factors that allow Thai businesses to adopt drone-based solutions to improve their business strategy and develop new goods and services with more confidence,” Vilaiporn said.
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