The transformative potential of drones in our society is limitless. Nowadays, they are well utilized across various industries and pierced through areas where they lagged. Drones are especially very useful for industries where sensitive and complex equipment is used. Such sectors are primarily using autonomous industrial drones to automate labor-intensive and time-consuming processes and benefit from data-driven analytics. Autonomous drones have several benefits, including – lowered operational expenses, industrial accidents, and improved regulatory compliance.
In the coming years, the development of more advanced autonomous drones is underway due to the research and investment pouring into this opportunity-rich industry. This article offers a sneak peek into the trends that will be prominent in autonomous drone technology in 2022.
Autonomous Drone Technology – The Basics
Autonomous drones are self-operated drones capable of flying safely without operator interaction. They utilize computer vision and artificial intelligence for aerial actions and deal with different emergency scenarios.
From accomplishing complex transportation to distribution to security, inspection to collaborating with other drones, these drones can perform a wide range of functions.
Top Drones Trends To Dominate 2022
Intelligent monitoring of farmlands
Autonomous drones fitted with GPS and sensors can easily map agricultural fields and help farmers manage their farms. Agricultural fields can be divided into different regions, with each drone mapping a specific area. Swarm communication between the drones will ensure no collision between drones when they are monitoring their respective fields. The data collected by the drones will help farmers to control risk, enhance agility, and speed up several expensive and time-consuming operations like irrigation, inventorying crops, and animal health monitoring.
Making mining safer
One of the most significant achievements of autonomous drones is minimizing worker deaths and injuries in mining activities. They have already been integrated into numerous mission-critical functions and worldwide mining operations. In 2022, leveraging these systems to inspect operational sites and critical equipment will become more common. As we have drones with faster, better, and more reliable data retrieval capabilities and advanced onboard sensors and cameras now, they will be consistently used to conduct security patrols and ensure regulatory compliance and safety.
Drones for monitoring power plants
Several complex operational protocols and unique safety challenges are associated with thermal power plants operations. Being one of the most hazardous industrial environments, thermal energy facilities have started exploring the applications of autonomous industrial drones in their sector. Autonomous drones can eliminate the need for in-person inspections and avoid unplanned downtime.
With advanced features, such as – thermal, radiometric, and HD visual imaging, these drones can be used to inspect and analyze thermal energy plants to maximize their performance and alleviate safety and security concerns. These drones provide consistent inspection data to ensure smooth operations, timely maintenance, and regulatory compliance.
Efficient monitoring of solar farms
With industries looking to curb emissions and adopt sustainable ways, 2022 is poised to be a record year for solar power. To fulfill this mission, solar farms are being built worldwide. But maintenance and operations of these geographically dispersed and remote facilities can be pretty challenging. By using autonomous drones with thermographic imaging capabilities, such farms can be monitored 24/7 for maintenance, temperature analysis, and possible malfunctions.
Effective management of oil and gas facilities
Oil & gas facilities need to be effectively monitored to ensure environmental and plant safety. On-site autonomous industrial drone systems can be used to inspect and monitor hard-to-access and dangerous places, keeping workers out of harm’s way. They are also much more efficient and powerful at detecting anomalies like leaks and temperature surges to prevent disasters and help direct response efforts.
Port & terminal operators can deploy autonomous industrial drone systems to monitor port entrances and exits, crane and freight operations, and surrounding coastlines. Such drones can automatically track, detect, and alert about suspicious activities, eliminating the need for monitoring by humans.
Solving complex problems of healthcare delivery
The use of autonomous drones in healthcare and emergencies is relatively new, but it might soon become routine for healthcare workers to use them to deliver medical supplies to trapped patients or assist people in dangerous scenarios. The deployment of autonomous drones in healthcare will improve emergency responses and healthcare workers’ ability to provide care in difficult situations. A real-world example is the use of drones by Zipline company to transport blood and vaccines in Rwanda and Ghana.
Improving internet connectivity in Remote Areas
Autonomous drones can be deployed to improve internet access in far-flung areas. Titan Aerospace, a solar drone firm, uses solar-powered drones to make the internet accessible in remote areas. Internet delivery via drones holds a lot of potentials, but the true potential of autonomous drones for internet delivery can only be unleashed when regulatory barriers are removed, and wide area network coverage is provided. 5G networks will be more suited for large-scale drone deployments.
Drones in Surveillance and Protection
Autonomous drones are widely used for data collection, surveillance, and threat detection. These features make them very useful for paramilitary groups, border patrols, and police to combat different types of criminal activities. Some common military use cases for autonomous drones are surveillance, rescue and search operations, airstrikes, traffic monitoring, bomb threats, fugitive tracking, and hostage situation handling. Autonomous drones offer targeted and covert strikes to keep the conflict zone from expanding and people safe.
The “As a service” model has become quite popular in recent years and has spread to the drones industry. Drones-as-a-Service is gaining substantial momentum and is being used by many businesses to improve their operational efficiency. Autonomous drones can be flown by integrating special software into their embedded systems to support different industries, such as – insurance, agriculture, aviation, construction, mining, oil&gas, variation, and others. Such services will rapidly replace legacy services in the commercial sector, such as filmography, aerial surveys, search & rescue, etc. They are faster, more cost-efficient, and can be operated autonomously. Integrating other technologies, such as – IoT, AI, and cloud computing, will further fuel their adoption in 2022.
Drones have been here for quite some time now, but with upscaling of advancements, we can see their implementation in various areas in the coming years.