insurance companies an easy way to
assess damage related to claims. For
insurance and surveying purposes,
aerial drones offer the ability to cover
more ground while traversing more
areas and angles than might be possible (or affordable) with traditional
Other use cases include surveying
and monitoring progress at construction sites, and performing simple regulatory inspections for commercial real
estate properties. Aerial drones are
even used to fly around warehouses
and find supplies or products faster
and more accurately than humans do.
Aerial drones also come in handy
in agricultural applications. They offer a dual benefit in this context. First,
drones are used to survey fields. Instead of having to traverse hundreds
IN JUNE, AMAZON announced it was close to being able to offer for package deliveries by drone for its Prime Air service. That same month, Uber said it plans
to test food delivery by aerial drone
in crowded cities. And drone delivery
company Flytrex already touts the ability to deliver drinks via unmanned vehicle on the golf course.
Despite such announcements,
drones are not crowding the skies over
major cities and population centers just
yet. But that may be about to change.
After several years of hype, widespread drone usage may be close to
ready for primetime.
Drones increasingly are being deployed in a number of compelling
real-world use cases. These use cases
have drone companies and enthusiasts
bullish that, no matter what happens,
there are serious real-world applications for drone technology today and
in the near future that will disrupt life
and business as we know it.
“Traditionally, we’ve seen drones be-
ing used for photography and survey-
ing,” says Eric Peck, CEO of Swoop
Aero, an Australian company that
delivers medical supplies via aerial
drone. “It’s all about data capture,
because data really is driving the abil-
ity to generate economic growth at the
From construction to insurance to
real estate to agriculture, the ability to
survey and photograph wide swaths of
land and hard-to-reach locations with
aerial drones is valuable to companies.
For instance, high-quality photos and
videos from different aerial angles can
better showcase residential properties
up for sale, more effectively highlight-
ing elements that appeal to buyers.
Aerial footage shot by drones is less
expensive than manually taking aerial
footage from a helicopter. One drone
photographer interviewed by The Bal-
timore Sun noted the cost differences:
“I can drive up to my destination, plug
my equipment in, and be done [pho-
tographing] in five or 10 minutes,”
said Jack Hardway, owner of a drone
photography firm. “It doesn’t cost me
$5,000. It costs me pennies to put that
thing in the air.”
The cost is one benefit. The ability
to collect more visual data from more
angles than from a traditional camera
also is important.
A Santa Monica, CA-based company called DroneBase uses unmanned
aerial vehicles (UAVs, or aerial drones)
to offer, among other services, aerial
surveying of building rooftops to give
Unmanned vehicles have a number
of compelling real-world use cases.
Society | DOI: 10.1145/3360911 Logan Kugler