Commercial UAVs: Is the sky the limit?

Author: Stockpile Reports

Commercial UAVs: Is the sky the limit? | Blog | Stockpile Reports

You’ve probably read– or heard– quite a bit of news and rumors recently about UAVs. The term UAV means an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle. It is a pilotless, remotely-controlled aircraft and often referred to as a drone.

The word ‘drone’ has gained a negative connotation in the US, with a large amount of media hysteria surrounding it regarding to privacy and military applications.

However, after removing the hysteria and paranoia surrounding UAVs, the future applications for commercial UAV usage are quite interesting!

What is a UAV

A UAV is simply an aircraft without a human pilot aboard. These machines are generally compact, relatively cheap, mechanically simple, fly below cloud cover and fairly easy to operate. A UAV is remotely controlled or can be autonomous, carry cameras and other sensors and are increasingly available to the general world population despite being initially developed by, and for, the military.

There are two main platforms available: fixed wing and multi-rotor. A fixed wing platform can cover large areas efficiently and a multi-rotor is useful as it can remain very stable in challenging conditions.

Beyond the military applications of UAVs with which “drones” became most associated, numerous civil aviation uses have been developed, including aerial surveying of crops, stockpiles, aerial footage in filmmaking, televised sporting events such as the Olympics, search and rescue operations, inspecting power lines and pipelines, counting wildlife, weather research, and also delivering medical supplies to remote regions.

UAVs can be considered as a low-cost alternative to manned aerial photogrammetry, and can also be advantageous to use for inspection, surveillance, mapping, and 3D modeling.

Restrictions on U.S. usage will be changing soon. The Federal Aviation Administration is expected to provide guidance for commercial use in 2015.

recent study by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) predicts that in a matter of years, the drone, or UAV, industry in the U.S. could produce up to 100,000 new jobs and add $82 billion in economic activity between 2015 and 2025.

Possibilities and Applications

Countries outside of the U.S. have been deploying UAVs for many commercial and non-commercial uses for years. Here are but a few examples you may not be aware of:

Protecting Wildlife

In 2012, the World Wildlife Fund supplied two FPV Raptor 1.6 UAVsto the Nepal National Parks. These UAVs were used to monitor rhinos, tigers and elephants and also deter poachers. The UAVs were equipped with time-lapse cameras and could fly for 18 miles at 650 feet. Similarly, Kruger National Park started using a Seeker II UAV against rhino poachers.

3-D Mapping

In 2013 the Matterhorn Mountain, located in the Swiss Alps, was mapped in 3D by a fleet of drones in just 6 hours. The mapping was unveiled at the Drones and Aerial Robotics Conference in New York City


Yamaha’s RMAX unmanned helicopter has been flown in Japan for 20 years. In 2010, 30 percent of Japan’s rice fields were sprayed with unmanned helicopters. Much of the farmland is on steep hillsides where it is impossible or extremely difficult to reach and monitor fields by tractor.

Search and Rescue

An injured victim of an automobile accident in Saskatchewan, Canada, in May 2013 may have been the first person to have his life saved by a search-and-rescue drone. A small Draganflyer X4-ES helicopter drone was used to locate and treat an injured man whose car had flipped over in a remote, wooded area in near-freezing temperatures.

Clearly there is a wide spectrum of UAV uses. These range far greater than recent media coverage about Amazon’s package delivery and Domino’s pizza delivery via the “Domicopter”.

From mapping mountains to mapping stockpiles, we at Stockpile Reports have been following discussions and development regarding UAV availability in the U.S. with great interest. We are excited about what the future will bring, and believe that the sky really is the limit for commercial UAV potential.

If you are also excited about technology and how it can benefit your business, please contact us and discover what our service can do for you.

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