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What’s the Real Opportunity for Drones in the Surveying Industry?

March 1, 2018

Discussions about the potential impact of drones in industries like agriculture and first response have been going on for a long time now, and there are clear benefits and efficiencies that drones will be able to bring to these industries. However, talk about how processes and workflows might change these industries often comes at the expense of the tangible benefits that have already been quantified for surveyors that have adopted drone technology. Those benefits have the potential to grow and scale while professionals in other industries are at the beginning phases of their adoption process.Does that mean the survey space represents the greatest potential for the commercial application of drone technology? Seeing how surveyors can do more with less with the technology and data from Skylogic Research, which identifies surveying and mapping industry as the most profitable of all the segments, it certainly seems as if the opportunities in the survey space are as unique as they are lucrative. However, it’s important to focus talk about opportunities in this space or any other around how business problems are being solved by drones, as opposed to solutions that may or may not be able to address these issues.

Integrating drones in surveying workflows

Excitement around the opportunities drones represent is easy to understand. Surveying companies have been directly and indirectly challenged to raise efficiency after experiencing a growing demand in the last year that is expected to continue in 2018. Drones have proven that they can help create these efficiencies, and it’s a benefit the technology enables by providing surveyors with more options related to how they process their data as well as being able to reduce man-hours by up to 60%. Does that mean the opportunities in this space are just about acquiring a drone?

The reality is that land surveying is a challenging profession which requires a special license. In nearly any state, producing topographic data requires a having a state-issued licensing survey, which takes many years and a lot of experience to get. This reality means that the opportunities in the space are best realized by surveyors who can use drones, as opposed to drone operators trying to figure out how they can provide value to surveyors. It’s one of the reasons that many have found it to be much preferable to train current surveyors to be drone operators.

“It makes much more sense to utilize current field survey staff who are already going out to project sites to just operate the drone as part of their field workflow,” said Daniel Katz, Co-founder at Aerotas. “Also, surveyors already have to be highly skilled technology operators, so a drone is not too far a leap for them.”

Aerotas creates turn-key drone systems for land surveyors and helps businesses across industries develop in-house drone capabilities, but an important consideration when it comes to creating value for their clients surrounds being able to discuss drone technology as a relevant tool to be utilized as necessary, rather than a piece of technology that’s coming in to replace everything.

Headlines and reports centered on the potential impact of drone technology have raised expectations and gotten stakeholders asking about things like creating an entire drone program, and that talk underscores the opportunities many see in the space. However, it’s talk that can lead those stakeholders down an inappropriate avenue, which means they often have to pull back and focus on the right question before becoming too focused on a specific answer.

“Drones are not going to be your silver bullet to every problem,” said David Boardman, CEO at Stockpile Reports. “They can definitely be the right tool for a given problem, and they’ve opened up new approaches that have created incredible efficiencies, but if you’re really focused on the problem of materials management, you can’t just consider a specific piece of hardware. How do you help solve that business problem? That’s what matters.”

The business problems in the surveying space can be dealt with and resolved in unique ways because of the capabilities of drones, but the opportunities here are related to what it means to see those problems solved, not because all of them can be resolved with drones. Of course, each project is different and requires its own approach, which makes it hard to generalize about data collection time or the division between the amount of work done by a field crew or a drone. There will almost always be some points that need ultra-high accuracy as well as critical points that are obscured from the air. All of which means that drones are rarely going to be the only tool used on a survey project, and their true value in this sector needs to be better understood. 

Quantifying the value

Headlines that talk up the billions of dollars in drones have fueled an incredible amount of hype for the technology, but that hype has not defined where the opportunities for drones reside. The reality associated with what’s possible, and what will be possible, is the only thing that really matters, and a recent report laid out these realities in specific detail.

The 2017 Drone Market Sector Report, an 88-page report from the team at Skylogic Research, included the results of a survey of over 2,600 drone buyers, service providers, business users, and software service users, as well as insights into the verticals that use drone data. The report found that the surveying and mapping industry is the most lucrative of all the segments, even though it will not be the biggest. In the top 10 of drone services making over $100,000 per year, the first place is taken by surveying/GIS/mapping services, followed by aerial photography and video. The distinctions between these sectors underscore the very different opportunities represented by each.

“Surveying / mapping / GIS and aerial photography /video are two very distinct types of drone services,” said Colin Snow, CEO and Founder of Skylogic Research. “The first centers on creating maps.  The second centers on images or video for media production.”

These very different needs and requirements further underscore where and how opportunities in the survey space will be most prevalent. Being able to do things like quantify distinctions between post-processing software for drone imagery and laser scanners is part of what it will mean to seize the opportunities being created in the space. Doing so is about understanding where and how all of these solutions can be best utilized.

“The right imagery-based software will enable a surveyor to get to a final surface, line-work or contours massively faster than even the most user-friendly laser scanner software,” Katz continued. “However, there´s a trade-off as laser scanner software has to handle massively larger and more complex laser scanner data types.”

That kind of understanding is where and how the opportunities for drones in the survey space are being realized and created, and they’re as real as they are powerful. In many cases, surveyors merely need to understand that using a drone doesn’t represent that big a change for them if they have the right SOPs for data collection and the right workflow for producing their final linework. It’s proof that these opportunities are built on the methodologies and approaches that have been employed for decades now, rather than something completely new which is going to redefine the industry. It’s a proposition that people on both sides of the issue need to work through and understand though.

Who’s in the best position to seize the opportunities?

For stakeholders in the survey space, a topic that is often debated is whether or not an organization should build their own drone program or outsource. Much like questions related to “photogrammetry vs LIDAR” though, it’s not an either/or proposition. In fact, being able to understand the nuances associated with specific issues like photogrammetry/LIDAR is what helps define where and how the value can be created with drones, and whether or not service providers might be able to offer that value.

“In general, usage of LiDAR drones vs. lower-cost drone-based aerial mapping/photography systems that generate point clouds depends on the clients accuracy requirements,” Snow mentioned. “A good drone service provider knows when to use each to provide the best product at the right price.”

Service providers that can do so will be able to take advantage of the opportunities in the space that drones have opened up. Having the expertise to provide this kind of insight, before talk about drones or any other piece of technology is discussed, is critical though. These kinds of insights can drive the creation of incredible value, which can then be realized in ways that may or may not incorporate drone technology.

“Everyone is really excited to see what’s possible with drones,” Boardman said. “That can be a fine place to start, but the conversation really needs to transition to what business problems can be solved with them. If that’s not something an organization is prepared to do, they might suddenly find themselves with a staff of people flying a fleet of expensive drones. At some point they’re going to have to answer questions about their core business, and whether or not they really want to buy, maintain and upgrade a drone fleet.”

Setting up an entire drone program obviously isn’t a fit for some organizations, but there are others where doing so can make sense. Sorting through these issues and defining what value that kind of setup or any other could look like is where the real opportunity in the space resides. Professionals that can work through distinctions related to what solution is going to create the most value in the survey space have a unique opportunity, because more people in this sector are asking these questions than anywhere else in light of the way UAVs have proven they can make a given task faster, cheaper or safer.

The desire to figure out what it means to effectively integrate drones into a surveying business or workflow showcase why the opportunities that exist for drones in this space are especially lucrative. However, being able to take advantage of them is more about insight and expertise, rather than specific pieces of hardware or technology.

 

 

About the Author

Eric van Rees is a freelance writer and editor. His specialty is GIS technology. He has more than nine years of proven expertise in editing, writing and interviewing as editor and editor-in-chief for the international geospatial publication GeoInformatics, as well as GIS Magazine and CAD Magazine, both published in Dutch. Currently, he writes about geospatial technology, programming and web development. See more from him on SPAR3D.com

How Are Drones Making Operations for Utility Companies Faster, Cheaper and Safer?

Organizations in a variety of industries are working to create a business structure around the data drones gather, but the logistics of doing so have caused challenges for businesses of all sizes. These challenges are especially evident in the utility sector, despite the efforts to define how drones can make a variety of tasks faster, cheaper and/or safer.

The struggles organizations have when it comes to drone adoption often come down to unrealistic expectations and unrefined data. While drones can create incredible efficiencies, they aren’t guaranteed to do so for every process for a utility company. Drones also have the ability to significantly reduce acquisition costs, but at the same time can generate massive volumes of largely unstructured data. How many images of a single pole does an organization need?

We’ve detailed how solutions like Drone Work Advisor from Optelos are designed to provide a unified solution that helps utility companies solve these data challenges in a number of intuitive and time saving ways. These kinds of tools allow utility organizations to effectively manage and analyze drone data to make better business decisions and create realistic expectations of what drones can do, although what all of that actually looks like within an organization can vary a great deal from one company to the next.

Defining the Value for Utility Organizations

Utility companies are leveraging drone data to quickly inspect miles of infrastructure that can be covered with vegetation, using AI to identify issues and other plant conditions, while reducing costs and risks of collecting this data. Previously, utilities relied solely on helicopters or airplanes and had to dispatch field crews to climb and inspect poles. The data being collected must be manually processed, so it can be days or weeks before that information is available. These traditional methods can be time consuming, costly, and pose potential safety risks. Drone surveys can reduce these costs, and even more critically, eliminate those safety risks.

“In the case of utilities, and specifically power lines, having to place personnel in close proximity to live high voltage cable is both dangerous and extremely difficult to achieve, depending on the climber’s location and type of asset,” said David Tran, co-founder at Optelos. “Drones can be used to collect this data from a safe distance with higher quality results. Removing this step not only provides a safer working culture, but also enhances the richness of actionable data.”

Getting better data while keeping people out of harm’s way represents value that can be calculated and defined. It’s a value proposition that can be seen in terms of both efficiency and safety, as accidents can be as costly as they are tragic, while manually processing data can mean the delay of critical decisions. Data must be properly analyzed to yield insights, which often requires new workflows and automated analytics that have been tailored to the organization’s objectives.

“Automation of data analytics has been a tremendous catalyst in unleashing the value from drone data,” Tran told Commercial UAV News. “We are seeing significant interest from companies in all industries ranging from Cell Towers to Windfarms, in any visual spectrum, from Solar (Thermal) to Gas (Hydro Carbon) Detection and any large-scale operation from Powerlines to Pipelines. The ability to save money and eliminate workflow steps through AI automation creates a potential for significant returns.”

These automated algorithms can analyze and classify a thousand images in under 5 minutes. They’re tasks that would have required hours to complete and with less accuracy. They also underscore the inefficiencies that exist in this industry, and showcase what kind of value is within reach for utility companies.

A look at how Optelos sorts and organizes utility data

The Hidden Costs of Antiquated Processes and Systems

The challenges around data accessibility tends to be symptomatic of inadequate systems and workflows that are not made to consume, present, and deliver this type of complex data. This makes the first task of organizing and processing that data critical, and one that utility organizations need to actively initiate.

“There are certainly very tangible costs for companies to employ people to sift through thousands of images in order to manually identify if issues are present,” Tran said. “In addition, they must also have relevant experience to properly identify and input these issues. Add to that, fatigue, inconsistent identification, and input errors as other issues with manual inspection. This creates productivity challenges and increases potential for missed information.”

These factors make it difficult for organizations to scale their drone program since human intervention is often the bottleneck. It’s the reason these cloud-based software programs are about far more than just simply storing files. These are systems that can process data and provide context and texture so that it can easily be consumed by the end user, client, and stakeholders. It can then deliver this data to designated clients and stakeholders to allow them to access, manipulate, and interrogate that data. These are the sorts of details that organizations often struggle to fully comprehend, especially when compared to the antiquated process and systems they might be relying on.

“One of the biggest data challenges we see organizations struggle with is understanding the relationship of the data to business objectives,” Tran mentioned. “In other words, gathering data is just the start. But data for the sake of data is meaningless and costly. Organizations need a clear process to manage and analyze data in such a way that their teams can use this information in meaningful ways. Otherwise the data by itself does not drive meaningful results and ultimately tarnishes the value of the drone program.”

The concept of “data being the new oil” is one that we’ve heard a lot about of late, but it’s not enough to just focus on raw data, regardless of whether it’s being gathered by a drone or some other device. Organizations must provide an easy way for users to access and use this data to make decisions. This can only be achieved if the data is correctly organized, structured, and accessible by the key stakeholders.

Ultimately, drones are another tool that if properly applied can generate tremendous business benefits, but they are not a silver bullet. A realization that they’re not going to solve every problem is a key aspect of creating that value. If used properly, they can yield a marked improvement over previous traditional processes, but that’s a distinction that needs to be defined in a variety of contexts. Sometimes that means putting the tools in the hands of experienced SMEs, and sometimes that means bringing in outside expertise. Whatever the approach, ensuring that the entire workflow from drone operations to data analytics are optimized to deliver on business objectives needs to be the priority.

Drones absolutely can make a variety of tasks faster, cheaper and safer, but seeing them do so is more of a question of software and process than hardware and raw data.

 

Drone, UAV, UAS, RPA or RPAS …

As a fast-growing market with numerous daily new opportunities, several names are currently used by people involved in this booming aeronautical sector to designate these unmanned aerial systems found in more and more areas.

Manufacturers, Public Organizations, Operators and Associations are all referring to some specific terms with slight differences contained in the definitions from one to another.

Here is an overview of the correct designations that were adopted by the major professional actors of the UAV domain, followed by the meanings of the acronyms.

UAV, condemned to disappear

UAV is the acronym of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle.
Currently, when browsing the Internet looking for related articles, UAV is the most frequent term. This designation is used to define the flying object employed for recreational and professional civilian applications. Even if a common agreement seems to have been reached online, the aviation agencies of many countries have decided to go for different term than today’s UAV.

DRONE, the French way

By being the world pioneer in the creation and implementation of regulations for the use of commercial unmanned aerial vehicles, the French Directorate for Civil Aviation (DGAC) is referring to them as drones.

The French Federation of the Civil Drone and the Belgian BeUAS are also applying the same word for the most common use. In a general way, the French speaking countries are mainly using the drone term.

However, drone refers mainly to an “unmanned aircraft which is mostly used in a military context” while it is used to designate any type of aerial unmanned vehicle in the common language.

Even UAV professionals are using the appelation of drone in the day to day jargon, instead of any other official term disdaining these autonomous vehicles.

RPAS, the most formal & international way

Worldwide, the National Aviation Agencies still need to find the smoothest and safest way to share the airspace with these new flying vehicles.

Before setting the rules to apply for this cohabitation, it is necessary for these agencies to nominate and define those unmanned aircrafts that are entering the aeronautical world.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) employs the acronym RPAS (standing for Remotely Piloted Aircraft System). The definition associated is that these systems as “based on cutting-edge developments in aerospace technologies, offering advancements which are opening new and enhanced civil-commercial applications as well as improvements to the safety and efficiency of the entire civil aviation”.

The term RPAS appears to be the preferred terminology used by the international aviation-related agencies like the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Eurocontrol, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA – Australia), the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA – New Zealand) and the BeUAS are following this trend.

UAS, the Anglo-Saxon exception

Despite the global international agreement on the RPAS (Remotely Piloted Aircraft System) word, some American and British organizations decided to go for the UAS acronym standing for Unmanned Air/Aircraft System. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA – United Kingdom) provides a complete definition and explanation of this choice :

The terms Unmanned Aircraft (UA) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) are used to describe the aircraft itself, whereas the term Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) is generally used to describe the entire operating equipment including the aircraft, the control station from where the aircraft is operated and the wireless data link.

This UAS terminology is also exploited by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA – United States), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Systems Association (UAVSA).

MAV, sUAS and UAV weight classifications

A general weight naming classification also exists for unmanned air vehicles UAVs. So following their mass, different names are used for UAVs:

  • MAV: from Micro Air Vehicle, for UAVs having a mass of less than 1g
  • sUAS: is the acronym of small Unmanned Aircraft System, used for UAVs weighting less than 25Kg. The letter “s” is especially written in lowercase, to accentuate the small size of these aicrafts
  • UAV: is then used for unmanned aircraft’s with a weight of more than 25Kgs

Summary

To sum up, 4 denominations are currently in service but their use depends mostly on the interlocutor. By using the correct terminology depending on the situation, you can make yourself clear faster as your vocabulary will correctly transmit your message.

These are the rules to follow in order to use the correct term:

  • French speaking: drones
  • US and UK: UAS
  • International and other National Aviation Agencies: RPAS
  • on the Internet: UAV and drones

Water survey by drone

 

UAV acronyms:

  • Unmanned Aerial Vehicle
  • Unmanned Air Vehicle
  • Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle
  • Unmanned Aerospace Vehicle
  • Uninhabited Aircraft Vehicle
  • Unmanned Airborne Vehicle
  • Unmanned Autonomous Vehicle
  • Upper Atmosphere Vehicle

Other possible acronyms:

  • UAVS: Unmanned Aircraft Vehicle System
  • RPA: Remotely Piloted Aircraft
  • UA: Unmanned Aircraft

Links:

Flying drones/remotely piloted aircraft in Australia

The drone safety rules vary depending on whether you are flying commercially or for fun (recreationally). Let CASA help you understand what you need to know.

CASA provides great information on the rules and regulations… visit them here…

https://www.casa.gov.au/aircraft/landing-page/flying-drones-australia

 

Global UAV Technologies: pure play drone sector exposure with earnings just starting to take off

19:05 02 Mar 2018

 

The main revenue-producing component of Global UAV is its services division, consisting mainly of photogrammetry and geophysical surveying, but it offers a full-service package in the field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs)

 

Global UAV Technologies (CSE:UAV) is one of the few listed operators in the fast-growing field of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Formed just more than a year ago, Global UAV has quickly merged complementary businesses, allowing it to be a “one-stop shop” for those requiring UAV – or “drone”, if you prefer – services and for those who want to offer their own drone services.

The group has been assembled quickly through acquisition. The focus has been on buying companies with proven technologies that provide cash flow. As a result, unlike many nascent technology companies, it is already earning revenues, including a modest profit in the third quarter of 2017.

Admittedly, those revenue and profit numbers are small at the moment, as might be expected of a company capitalized at less than C$20 million. With revenues rising rapidly and a high-margin business model, however, there is every reason to believe the stock is readying for take-off.

Using drones to provide information on the physical properties of a land mass

One of the group’s subsidiaries, Pioneer Aerial Surveys, is the industry leader in drone geophysics and field operations.

In simple English, the company’s drone service can provide information on the physical properties of a land area. This service is a more cost-effective operation than manned surveys and can reach places a manned aircraft or ground crews would find hard to access.

Pioneer Aerial’s UAV-MAG surveys are in high demand from mineral exploration and mining companies worldwide.

In a similar vein, Global UAV’s other services subsidiary, High-Eye Aerial Imaging, provides low altitude, high definition, LiDAR (light detection and ranging), aerial surveying, photography, videography and other aerial mapping services.

Again, mining companies are keen on this stuff, but so too are the construction, engineering and agriculture industries, to name a few.

The company manufactures its own drones

The company uses its own drones, designed and manufactured by its NOVAerial Robotics division.

Its flagship Procyon 800E helicopter is used by international customers and is considered one of the best UAVs in its class. The single-rotor helicopter style design of the Procyon provides higher payload capacities and longer flight times than a typical commercial-grade multi-rotor UAV.

As a small progressive company that keeps abreast of industry trends, Global UAV president James Rogers thinks their products and services will keep them “ahead of the pack.”

The company also has a division, UAV Regulatory Services, which provides an online service called Easy SFOC.

This service assists clients with the preparation of special flight operation certificates (SFOCs). These certificates are required for the operation of recreational and commercial drones in Canada.

“It can be a fairly complex process to apply for that [an SFOC], so UAV Regulatory essentially offers a consultancy service to consumers who are interested in starting their own business. We can guide them through the regulatory requirements to help them get their licenses,” explained Michael Burns, CEO of Global UAV.

Together, these four businesses within Global UAV provide a fully integrated profile of manufacturing, services and regulatory compliance unique to the UAV industry and its customers.

“Right now, the main revenue-producing component of Global UAV is our services division, consisting mainly of photogrammetry and geophysical surveying,” Burns explained.

“The geophysical surveying services have been very lucrative for us. We have been the leader in this commercially since 2014 when we really brought this technology to market. We set ourselves up as a commercial supplier of the UAV-MAG services through Pioneer Aerial,” Burns continued.

“We’re able to offer to our customers either a full-service package, where they can hire us to come and do the work, or we can also do a sale. If a customer would like to purchase the equipment and get set up as a user, we can sell them a drone, train the customer and set them up with all the regulatory framework.” Burns added that it is a very attractive model for small companies.

The top line is heading higher – rapidly

A chart of quarter-by-quarter sales for Global UAV shows the sort of vertical take-off one might expect from the company’s drones.

In the first quarter (the three months to January 31), sales were C$22,386; in the second quarter they soared to C$181,204, and in the third, they rose to C$333,529.

The third quarter – to the end of July – saw the company move into the black, with net income of C$154,956.

A NOVAerial drone typically sells for US$30,000 to US$40,000. Therefore, the company does not exactly need the manufacturing clout of General Motors to keep that top line moving north at a rate of knots, especially as a high-margin business that gets the bottom line heading in the right direction as well.

According to auditing and consulting services provider PwC, “the drone revolution is disrupting industries ranging from agriculture to film-making”.

PwC values the emerging global market for business services at US$127 billion, with infrastructure (US$45.2 billion) and agriculture (US$32.4 billion) the two biggest markets, while mining, where Global UAV is already strong, is valued at US$4.3 billion.

In conclusion, the market opportunity is enormous. As James Rogers observed, however, North America is not awash with listed pure-play UAV companies, with big names such as Facebook, Google, Amazon and Boeing certainly having their fingers in the pie.

“Global UAV offers a ground floor entry opportunity to get into the drone sector.”

Why drones are better at counting things than people

What happened?

The drone counts were generally between 43 and 96 per cent more accurate than the numbers reached by the ground-based ecologists. The results have been published in the journal Methods in Ecology and Evolution.

The experimenters believe that their research shows that drones will have a useful place in measuring populations of seabirds or other ocean life such as dolphins and seals.

Using drones to monitor species numbers is not yet a settled conclusion. Scientists are yet to determine the extent to which animals are disturbed by the presence of a drone buzzing overhead (efforts are already underway to make quieter, less intrusive drones).

In any case, with many species on our planet on the edge of extinction, the need for researchers to be able to accurately count the number of animals or species in a given area is critical. Drones, it seems, may become another important tool in ecologists efforts to monitor and try to halt the decline of many different animal populations.

https://gpairborne.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/Screen-Shot-2018-02-19-at-6.33.51-PM-300x200.png

10 Drone Stats That Will Blow You Away

The global drone market is enjoying explosive growth. Unmanned aerial vehicle technology is reshaping major industries and creating new ones. In all, drone-powered solutions are projected to have demand that reaches into the tens of billions of dollars.

The statistics that follow will help give you a sense of the incredible size and scope of the global drone industry.

Image source: GPairborne

The stats

1. The number of U.S. commercial drones is expected to grow by a factor of 10 over the next half-decade, from 42,000 drones in 2016 to more than 420,000 by 2021, according to a report by the Federal Aviation Administration.

2. The number of remote pilots needed to fly those commercial drones could reach as a high as 422,000 by 2021.

3. The FAA also estimates that small, hobbyist drones will more than triple in number to 3.5 million drones by 2021, up from 1.1 million drones in 2016.

4. Entrepreneurs are already moving to capitalize on this booming opportunity. There are currently 639 drone start-ups listed on AngelList, with an average valuation of $4.8 million.

5. E-commerce could help fuel the drone industry’s growth. According to a survey by Walter Sands Communications, 79% of U.S. internet users are at least somewhat likely to select drones as a delivery option.

6. Another study conducted by the United States Postal Service found that 56% of consumers believe drone delivery will be faster, while 53% believe deliveries made by drones would be environmentally friendly.

7. The growth of drones is expected to impact more than just the online retail and package delivery industries. For example, consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) estimates that drones could help save the insurance industry as much as $6.8 billion per year by reducing costs related to data collection, risk evaluation, and battling fraud.

8. PwC also believes that the global market for agricultural drones could be worth more than $32 billion, thanks to drones’ ability to assist farmers in areas such as crop surveillance and fertilizer application.

DCIM101MEDIADJI_0034.JPG

9. Incredibly, the opportunity for drones in the global infrastructure market — which includes applications such as land surveys and asset inspections — may be even larger, with estimates as high as $45 billion.

10. All told, PwC pegs the total addressable value of drone-powered solutions in all applicable industries at a staggering $127 billion.

Investor takeaway

The global opportunity for drones is massive. Drones have the potential to revolutionize major industries such as insurance, agriculture, infrastructure, and e-commerce. Investors seeking to profit from this megatrend may wish to consider AeroVironment (NASDAQ: AVAV) — the best pure play on the growth of the drone market available in the public markets today.

The majority of AeroVironment’s revenue comes from selling unmanned surveillance aircraft to the U.S. military. The company is also expanding into the commercial drone market with drones that can be used to inspect oil pipelines and monitor the health of farm crops. Business is booming, and AeroVironment shareholders have enjoyed strong gains with the stock more than doubling over the past year. Yet with the drone market set for explosive growth in the coming decade, AeroVironment should continue to reward investors.