Much time is spent by the industry educating and advising industrial sectors how unmanned aerial systems can benefit their areas of commerce. Many of these arguments are the same and typically involve cost saving, greater efficiency, greater detail and a more environmentally friendly service.
The one area that is still under sold is the health and safety benefit of not sending inspection teams out on ropes, access platforms or scaffolding.
This is something we expect to change significantly in the coming years. We have several clients who are being told to reduce the amount of time their inspection teams spend hanging from ropes, as well as others that cannot afford to shut down their operations for more traditional surveys.
As the technology continues to evolve at an incredible rate we are constantly adapting and incorporating new UAVs to achieve greater efficiency for our operational teams and clients alike. Often the technology is becoming smaller and can share the same retail presence as consumer products, however there is a difference:
UAVs are not a toy they are an essential tool of our trade.
There should be emphasis on this as UAVS are a professional tool for our pilot operators to gather data. This is only part of the process for many in the industry who then upload aerial data to analysts representing anything from survey and construction to security and insurance.
In our experience, government and regulatory bodies can help the UAV community by:
- Providing a balanced view of UAV benefits as well as risks. Falls from height remain consistently the number one source of UK workplace fatalities, and appropriate use of UAVs can make a real contribution to safety.
- Clarifying the grey areas in the regulatory environment. There are many important questions where guidance is unclear, including fundamentals like the necessity for regulatory approval when companies use UAVs for “internal purposes”.
- Harmonization with other countries. There is no consistency of regulatory framework across Europe, which adds cost and complexity when our clients ask for service outside the UK.
This is a post by a UK UAV pilot. His employer, Strat Aero/Geocurve is an international aerospace services company focussed on providing professional services using Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) technology, covering all aspects of the value chain including aerial service, training and data analytics.
When one speaks to groups like NATE (National Association of Tower Erectors) whose members employ over 12,000 tower technicians one quickly gains an appreciation of the safety benefits. In fact, this was much of the impetus for GE’s initial entry into the industry which was to use drones for windmill inspections and is summed up in the 4 Ds – distant, dirty, dull and dangerous.
I think the author did a good job trying to create a differentiation between a drone sold to a hobbyist and one being sold to become “an essential tool of our trade.” This is going to be something that drone service providers are going to have to get good at to overcome pricing objections based on the fact that “I can get the same thing at BestBuy.” Yes but…
The things the government can do reflects an industry in its early days. Given the concerns and challenges posed by the patchwork quilt in the US, I was struck by the call for a unified EU rule set.