Trends Shaping Drone Adoption for 2020

Yuneec H520 drone night flight

With 2020 here, it’s time for new predictions. What are the key trends impacting drone adoption in businesses and public sector in 2020?  Here are excerpts from Helen Pukszta’s “Trends Shaping Drone Adoption for 2020 and Beyond,” published in Cutter Consortium’s annual “Business Technology Trends and Predictions.”

[…] FAA regulations focused on integrating […] drones into the national airspace are briskly moving forward and converging with independent but complementary drone technology advancements. Together, they are moving us closer to the holy grail of the drone industry: scalable, integrated, continuous, long-range operations beyond visual line of site (BVLOS) and with little or no human intervention.

[…] With these new regulations, there is an opportunity for drone makers to pursue airworthiness certificates and sell or lease such UASs to drone delivery operators. There is an opportunity for third-party operators to offer drone delivery services as air carriers under Part 135. There is an opportunity for the delivery service to be hired by the consumer or business ordering a product or by the merchant selling it. For those with even deeper pockets, there is an opportunity to have an integrated operation of drone deliveries using their own certificated drones (e.g., the Amazon Air approach).

[… ]Drone deliveries can take off […] but it’s unclear where the new FAA policies leave the much larger, non-certificated part of the commercial drone market or what the path is to lifting BVLOS and other restrictions to open up the economies of scale and significant additional value that drones can bring outside of the headline-grabbing business of drone deliveries.

[…] The remote ID FAA requirement gets us closer to UAS Traffic Management implementation, which is the key enabler of flying BVLOS (now prohibited without an explicit waiver from the FAA) and autonomous operations (now illegal, as a pilot in command is required at all times for every drone in the air).

[…] How does the remote ID rule affect current commercial and public sector users of drones? It has little immediate impact, as the full rollout will come gradually. Most drones now in operation, particularly in the enterprise class, can be made compliant relatively easily with a drone maker’s firmware update and the use of yet-to-be defined apps.

[…] This year will see deeper experimentation and adoption of drone technology for the use cases already in play — infrastructure and asset inspections; mapping, surveying, and model building; public safety; precision agriculture; and specialized detection missions.

Technology, particularly the integration aspects, will continue to mature as well. You will see it in smaller and more powerful sensors, longer flight times, smarter batteries and controllers, communication links with increased coverage and reliability, faster edge processing for faster results, and increasingly sophisticated ecosystems of software for mission planning, mapping, and analytics. You will see more innovations that make drones not only more useful and powerful but also increasingly safer.

[…] Regulatory changes, new drone technology, and continuing business adoption will make 2020 an exciting year for all drone users, but many sweeping changes, opportunities, and automation benefits of drones are still ahead of us.

Helen Pukszta, President, Drone Arrival

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