Drones may only be starting to make inroads into many sectors of the economy but a new report by PwC values the emerging global market for business services using the machines at more than $127bn.
According to the report, Clarity from Above, this figure represents the value of current business services and labour that are likely to be replaced in the very near future by drones.
Businesses most likely to benefit from drone solutions are those that manage assets dispersed over large areas, the report said. These include large-scale capital projects, infrastructure maintenance and agriculture. Infrastructure is likely to account for $45.2bn of the total $127bn spend. Agriculture is the next most important sector for drone applications and is likely to represent $32.4.
Drones will prove particularly effective for gathering and analyzing data on land and crops and for carrying out precise spraying of plants, the report said, and would help the insurance and mining industries obtain better data quality. It estimated the drone transport market to be worth $13bn, security to be worth $10bn and the media and entertainment sector to be worth $8.8bn.
The rest of the $127bn figure will be accounted for by insurance ($6.8bn), telecommunications ($6.3bn) and mining ($4.4bn).
PwC has established in a global centre in Poland that researches drone and data analytics solutions for business challenges. In 2013 Poland became the first country to establish a complete legal framework regarding the use of drones.
Olga Grygier-Siddons, chief executive of PwC in Central and Eastern Europe, said different industries value different elements of drone performance. Some place more emphasis on flight speed and payload capacity, while others are looking for solutions that deliver high-quality, real-time data in a cost-effective way.
Meanwhile DHL has carried out a successful three month trial that saw it integrate drones into its logistics chain in Bavaria, Germany.
A pilotless helicopter dubbed the “Parcelcopter” carried out automatic unloading and loading of parcels at special “skyports” in rural Alpine districts.
The Parcelcopter loaded and unloaded 130 times between January and March 2016, and was able to pick up deliveries that consumers had inserted into the skyport.
DHL said each round trip covered around 8km at 1,200m of altitude in a geographically challenging area. Typical cargos were sporting goods or medicines and the helicopter trip typically took eight minutes, compared to more than half an hour by car. The company now plans to select other potential test sites.