What are the chances you saw the Olympics? If you are a fan, maybe you caught Intel’s drone presentation at the 2018 Pyeongchang games. If you wouldn’t dream of spending your free time watching mildly-nationalistic athletic competitions, however, let us recap: several hundreds of drones flew above the stadium in perfect coordination and came together to create the iconic Olympic rings out of light. It was pretty damn cool.
Drones in Droves
Just as the story went with GPS, drones have outgrown their military beginnings. They’ve become powerful business tools—already they’ve made the leap to the consumer market. They’re even being put to work in civil and commercial situations, from lifeguarding to lab work to farming. We smell an opportunity here. And it’s too large to ignore. Did you know a 100 billion dollar market opportunity is predicted from now ‘till 2020?
Military, Consumer, Civil, Commercial
As we mentioned, drones in the armed forces has been a thing for a while now. They use drones to keep pilots out of harm’s way, while performing tasks like chemical detection or intelligence gathering. Drones initially took off here (no pun intended!) because they were cheaper, safer, and more capable alternatives to manned military aircraft. The business of defense will likely stay the largest market for the drones of the future. But coolness of these gadgets has not escaped the consumer’s imagination: the speed, capability, and dramatic photography have huge appeal. Consumer market demand has exploded in the last two years, making it the second-biggest market for drone technology. You’ve probably noticed: hobbyists with drones are a familiar sight, and it’s bound to become even more common to see individuals out in the park with a remote control in hand, squinting at the clouds.
Drones in the Sky
Other contenders for “fastest-growing opportunity” when it comes to drones are businesses and governments. They’re just beginning to explore the possibilities and are forecast to spend 13 billion dollars on drones between now and 2020. Have you seen Amazon’s incredible drone delivery? It’s not in full swing yet—as usual, technology is outrunning the development of standards to govern it. But don’t worry: the regulations are catching up. NASA is leading a multi-billion-dollar effort to develop a national airspace management system capable of safely coordinating unmanned flight, and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) is easing restrictions that are holding back the potential of commercial drones.
Drones mean that the business world is headed for new heights. The efficiency, safety, and cost benefits all make drones attractive for businesses and governments alike. That 100-billion-dollar market opportunity we mentioned is just the tip of the iceberg. The full impact of drones on our economy is likely to be many times that number, as the ripples of opportunity spread from their spinning propellers.