The total global market for drone powered business operations is valued at over $127 bn, according to PwC estimates. The industry with the largest potential market for the commercial applications of drone technology is infrastructure, with an estimated global market value of $45.2 bn.
Within this industry, road and railway sector operators are already beginning to gain competitive advantage through early and effective implementation of drone powered solutions at all stages of the capital project and infrastructure life cycle
Drone technologies can be used at almost every stage in the transport infrastructure life sector, starting from construction and investment monitoring, through maintenance, up to asset inventory. During construction, data gained through drones can facilitate rapid reactions to any deviations from the plan, and in extreme cases might be used as evidence in litigation. For example, in one construction project supervised by Drone Powered Solutions, the investor had savings of approximately US$2.94 million in claims settlement litigation thanks to unparalleled evidence.
Other applications range from the detection and prevention of trespassing, to placement of trench protection, to enhancing site safety. For instance, the PwC Drone Powered Solutions team has calculated that the number of life threating accidents on an average construction site monitored by drones has been reduced by up to 91%.
The increasing applications of drone technology in transport infrastructure projects comes at a time of large investment and heavy competition in the industry. The PwC report estimates that investments in transport infrastructure will bring global growth in capital expenditures of 4.5% annually between now and 2020.
Technology Partner at PwC, David Lee commented, "Drone technology is rapidly moving from the concept to the commercial stage of its development. 7-Eleven, the world’s largest convenience store chain has recently announced that it has successfully completed 77 drone flights to customers living within a mile of one of its stores in Reno Nevada. This announcement comes shortly after Amazon’s announcement of its first drone delivery to a customer in the UK. However the application of drone technology goes far beyond the delivery of product to end customers. Companies in the road and railway sector operate extensive networks of complex assets distributed over vast areas, generating high costs for investment monitoring, asset inventory and maintenance."
He added, "Drone technologies are affording these companies a way to complete these activities in a faster, more cost-effective and safer way than traditional methods. By acquiring various sets of data, drones are becoming an essential tool on construction sites and during regular maintenance and asset inventory."