Relaxed BVLOS regulations
This year is looking like the year that beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) drone flight regulations are finally relaxed, and when they are, it will mean great things for industrial companies that need drones for things like remote site inspections, security and surveillance, navigation and long-range surveying. While world-leaders like Israel, which allows leading producer of industrial drones Airobotics to fly automated BVLOS drone flights, and Japan, which got rid of a law requiring a drone assistant to keep all drone flights within the visual line of sight at the end of 2018, have made great progress towards realizing the true capabilities of industrial drones, many nations have a lot of catching up to do.
That catching up is poised to take place this year as the United States, Canada, Switzerland, South Africa and Denmark have begun allowing limited BVLOS flights with special permissions, a step that will likely lead to new regulations. The United States in particular is a nation to watch when it comes to BVLOS flights, as Airobotics recently opened a headquarters in Arizona, indicating there may be reason to believe industrial drones will soon be flying further than ever in the US. Poland also appears to be on the brink of new BVLOS regulations, reportedly working with Israel in the development of BVLOS legislation.
End to end automation
If there has been one thing keeping industrial drones from reaching their full potential, it’s the need for drone pilots. Not only are pilots a significant expense that hugely reduces the cost-effectiveness of industrial drones, but waiting for a pilot to respond also delays on-demand and emergency response flights, rendering them less effective. Human pilots also introduce the risk of human error.
End to end automation that encompasses the entire flight and data collection process as well as battery and sensor changing is one of the factors that are going to allow industrial drones to reach their true potential for industries ranging from sea ports and critical infrastructure to energy and mining. Scheduled inspections, on-demand inspections, surveillance, surveying, stockpile evaluation, emissions testing and emergency response are just some of the industrial drone applications that are made truly time- and cost-efficient by end to end automation.
For many companies, the appeal of industrial drones lies in their surveying and mapping capabilities. However, surveying and mapping with a drone has largely meant being limited to photogrammetry due to the weight as well as the considerable expense of LiDAR sensors.
That is all set to change this year as leading automated drone companies are in the process of developing lightweight, cost-efficient LiDAR drone sensors to provide industrial firms with the top surveying technology without requiring the expensive and dangerous use of small aircraft. This will be a game-changing development for any industry that regularly needs to do surveying or stockpile evaluation.
Truly soaring to new heights
For industrial companies that haven’t yet made the investment in an industrial drone, 2019 is undoubtedly the year to do so. Whether the drone is needed for everyday tasks like facility and equipment inspections, major projects like long-range surveying and mapping, significant upgrades in security and surveillance capabilities, or all of the above, the three trends touched on above will make a big difference in how significantly an industrial drone can impact a company’s operations. This is the year industrial drones will finally reach their potential.