Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UASs), best known as Drones, are of ever-increasing popularity, and have given birth to an entirely new industry that encompasses the design, manufacturing, distribution, training, operation, and reporting on developments related to UASs. In addition, UASs augment many pre-existing industries, providing more efficient and effective solutions to a range of industry challenges.
In January of 2013, DJI, a relatively new and unknown company from China introduced the first consumer-grade unmanned aerial system. It gave users the ability to capture stable aerial imagery with little to no experience, minimal setup time, and at an accessible price point. They called it a “small size Ready-to-Fly VTOL, integrated multi-rotor aircraft for aerial filming,” and it started the UAS revolution (DJI, 2018).
Prior to this, UASs were primarily a surveillance tool for the military with a history dating back to World War I. These systems were largely based on designs and inventions patented by Nikola Tesla in the late 1890s, combined with the invention of the heavier-than-air craft made popular by the Wright brothers at Kill Devil Hills, NC in 1903. Tesla’s U.S. patent application 613,809 in 1898 accurately foretold the impact that unmanned craft would have in the future (Atherton, 2016). “Vessels or vehicles of any kind may be used, as life, dispatch, or pilot boats or the like, or for carrying letters, packages, provisions, instruments, objects, or materials of any description, for establishing communication with inaccessible regions and exploring the conditions existing in the same” (United States Patent No. 613,809 , 1898).
It is in these exact roles that UASs are now creating a new and growing Unmanned Aircraft industry. Altogether new companies focus on the design/manufacturing, training, operation, and reporting on developments related to UASs, impacting agriculture, law enforcement, emergency response, communication, construction, and aerial photography among others. By 2025, some analysts expect over 100,000 new jobs and an economic impact of $82 billion directly related to UASs (Chamata, 2017).
This paper provides an analysis of each of the four major areas listed regarding UASs, as well as an analysis on how UASs are impacting four preexisting industries: construction/infrastructure maintenance, law enforcement/emergency management, agriculture, and aerial photography.
Author: Darren Spencer.
Cite as: Spencer, D. (2018). Unmanned aerial systems, Muma Business Review 2(7). 83-104. https://doi.org/10.28945/4144