PwC: Drone usage to rise among industries globally

PwC: Drone usage to rise among industries globally

The global market for businesses using drones is expected to rise to at least US$127 billion in 2020 from an estimated $2 billion now, says consulting firm PwC.

Infrastructure, agriculture and transport are key industries that will spur growth in the market for drone services, according to a PwC report entitled "Clarity From Above".

Vilaiporn Taweelappontong, lead partner for PwC Thailand's consulting services, said drone service solutions range from delivering goods in just half an hour to verifying insurance claims and watering crops.

"The potential applications of what drones can do today is massive," Ms Vilaiporn said. "With drone service solutions, companies can create new, endless business and operation models in a cost-effective way."

In Thailand, "drones are not just for military applications, but are a tool for businesses", she 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 Transport Ministry 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," Ms Vilaiporn said.

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.

Ms 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 maintain existing infrastructure projects by checking for flaws.

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 crop data quickly, and carry out precise spraying on plants.

Ms Vilaiporn said businesses globally are increasingly using drones and are concerned about the need to have transparent rules on drones usage, specifically 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, including training for pilots, licences for beyond visual line of sight flights and insurance required for commercial flights.

In 2013, Poland became the first country in the world to introduce a complete legal framework and institutions regulating the commercial use of drones.

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