UAVs – What progress in 2015?
From a fledgling start in 2014 this year has seen the demand for UAVs and their services strengthen considerably. UAVs have never been far from the news, lots of good news stories but inevitably some of the coverage has been not so favourable, since there is no doubt a dramatic crash or controversial use of a drone makes for a lively and usually strongly opinionated news article. The news has been full of stories with barely a day passing without the word ‘drone’ appearing in a headline so these are just a few of our favourites.
So what have been our favourite UAV highlights of the year and where does the industry stand as we look towards 2016?
We take a month by month look at some of the stories that hit the headlines during 2015
- January – The year kicks off with a classic UAV ‘disaster’ story – you know the one about the drone landing on the White House lawn
- February –Paris night drone mystery deepens – this one feels a bit sinister in the light of the fate that lay in store for Paris in 2015
- March –Amazon cleared to put its delivery drones to the test – We look forward to seeing this become more than a PR stunt!
- April – Drone swarm The Power of the many – US navy develops cannon-launched drones that can fly autonomously and “swarm”
- May .. and at the other end of the scale, power in miniature with the launch of a palm top UAV
- June – nice example of aerial vehicles working in harmony Easyjet develops flying robots to inspect aircraft
- July – Simple but effective – Royal Navy ship flies 3D-printed UAV
- August – Always the silly season for news stories Angry Eagle ‘Punches’ Drone Right Out Of The Sky
- September – Drones build rope bridge that humans can cross – a great drones for good story that counterbalances some of the ‘crash’ stories
- October Rwandan drone port – There is nothing like a world first to capture the attention especially when its combining first world technology with third world need
- November – Leeds University pioneers a self-repairing cities project using UAV technology taking the current modest use of UAVs in construction one step further
- December –FAA Requires Drone Registration and so the regulatory regime begins
So it has not been a dull year drone wise in 2015 and there is no doubt that 2016 will be equally exciting, however there are some common threads that we think will come to the fore time and again as we go forward:
Better tech – onwards and upwards capability and performance will continue to advance with the main themes for 2016 likely to surround avoidance technology and better power leading to longer flight times. Make sure you checkout Skytech 2016 in January when our very own technical manager James Dunthorne will be discussing detect and avoid technology.
More regulation – it will be a year of bans, registration and restrictions. With a certain inevitability the more UAV use grows the greater the desire for restriction and possibly the need for regulation. These two forces will no doubt manifest themselves in some places or countries in the form of outright bans although sooner or later we will learn to live with UAVs and manage better their integration into society.
Whilst there are opportunities for UAVs to drive change in many industries we expect the real step change in 2016 to be seen in agriculture and construction. The latter is of course close to our heart and we have been talking to some of the country’s leading contractors many of whom are poised to bring UAV technology to use across a range of projects in 2016 as they begin to fully understand the benefits and cost savings that UAVs can bring.