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article imageHow drone usage is reshaping America's infrastructure

By Karen Graham     Sep 24, 2016 in Technology
In the 1980s, the IT revolution upended the way companies do business while completely transforming our economy. Now we have the same thing happening with drone technologies as the potential for commercial drones in the infrastructure sector take off.
A recent report by business consultancy PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), Clarity From Above, describes the potential commercial applications for drone technology in everything from agriculture to film-making.
PwC points out that globally, the value of drone technology solutions is worth is valued at $127.3 billion, while the biggest opportunities for drone applications is in the infrastructure sector.
In March this year, a report released by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that by the end of 2016, commercial drone usage is expected to grow from 600,000 to 2.7 million. The FAA's new regulations that went into effect in late August have really opened up new applications for drones, especially in the commercial sector.
The increased use of drones in the infrastructure sector will be especially advantageous because drones are capable of doing hazardous work as well as surveying sites and being an aid in collecting data sets. PwC notes that some infrastructure industries will be able to benefit from drone technology faster than others, such as our energy, roads, railways, and oil & gas industries.
Some of the key applications available to these industries include are investment monitoring, maintenance and asset inventory, says the report. And these applications in drone-powered technology have a market value of $45.2 billion. One of the applications that may turn out to be very cost-effective is in the realm of maintenance.
Maintenance is one job we all understand. Once something is constructed, it has to be maintained through inspections. For example, bridges and towers needing safety inspections require the use of safety equipment, scaffolding or elevated platforms, and certified personnel to do the job, but in many cases, the same inspection can be done by a drone.
Using drones is also cost-effective. The PwC report points out that not only can drones locate imperfections and defects a lot faster and with greater thoroughness, but they can do the job cheaply and safely. With the advent of 3D printers, the way is now open to attach those printers to drones, making it possible to produce on-site replacement parts.
It really is an exciting time for drone technology today. And this technology will reshape our economy and improve our infrastructure sector.
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