Corporate Drone Programs are Becoming a Necessity
Around the world, companies are discovering the economic and social benefits of incorporating drones into their daily operations. Chief Information Officers are best situated to establish corporate drone programs given that most drone operations involve vastly more efficient methods of data collection and will require some level of internal technology development. The proliferation of drones puts CIOs in a position to lead on data collection that will inform greater efficiencies and synergies for their businesses, bringing immediate value to corporations’ bottom lines.
Already, drones are being utilized across many industries, to inspect pipelines, electrical grids, and railroads, to spray pesticides, to transport medical devices, and even to deliver burritos and pizzas. Within the next three years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) predicts more than 400,000 commercial drones will be operating in the United States. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that the net value of labor and services from those drones will reach upwards of $100 billion in the U.S. during the same time period.
Fortunately, recent regulatory advances are opening the airspace for these new business applications of drone technology, ensuring that opportunity becomes reality. The U.S. Department of Transportation and FAA are currently implementing the UAS Integration Pilot Program, a three-year program designed by The White House to allow companies to partner with state, local, and tribal governments to conduct advanced commercial drone operations. In Switzerland and Japan, national regulators are allowing select operators to conduct package delivery by drone. Although these countries are currently among the first movers, many others including New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and Canada are following suit.
To ensure safety, multiple countries have begun investing in a new UAS Traffic Management (UTM) infrastructure, so that drones can navigate safely in low-altitude airspace. The accelerated adoption of UTM and other technologies required to ensure the safety of the airspace, combined with a reduction in regulatory uncertainty for drone operators, will ensure that businesses can responsibly implement corporate drone programs. CIOs and other business leaders have recognized that drones bring new efficiencies. Regulatory and technology advancements mean that the time to begin investing in a corporate drone program is now.