So where are they going in this decade?
I can see a broader adoption by industry and municipalities for surveillance and inspection, they are bound to become a common alternative in logistics to ferry small loads. They may also become part of the delivery chain to fit specific needs (like taking off from vans to avoid stopping the vehicle for delivery, last mile delivery). In the graphic you can see today’s areas of drones application with the lion’s share taken by drone photography -42.9%- (most of it in the mass market area) followed by Real Estate – 20.7% (inspection, photogrammetry, surveillance…) and then Utilities -10.9%- (innfrastructures inspection and minor repair), Construction -8.6%- (surveillance and inspection) and Agriculture -8%- (inspection, pesticide spraying,…).
The increasing control and avoidance systems capability will make possible to use drones inside factory workshop for quick inspection, inside hospitals for drug delivery to patient bedside (robots are being experimented today but they are having a hard time negotiating their way in crowded corridors and halls, a drone would just fly over people’s heads).
Support to real-virtual reality is an area that I bet will be explored in this decade: drones can become your eyes to explore far away places. VR equipment will provide you with the sight from the drone camera and moving your body and head will direct the drone to move accordingly delivering the sensation of actually being there. It is actually an example of reality-virtual reality coming together. It is not pure virtual reality since what you are seeing is the “real” reality streaming in through the drone camera but it gives you a virtual presence since you can move your head and body and direct the sight of the drone as if your body and eyes where there delivering the perception of actually being there. More than that. Software gimmick would allow the inclusion in those real streamed images of artefacts, or images taken at a different time and merged in the real time streaming…
The merging of drones and Virtual Reality can be one of the “big thing” of this decade. Watch the clip, it is really worth watching it to get an understanding of how a drone can be used to create a VR settings. In the clip it is stated that the future is about the merging of Real and Virtual and drones , along with Digital Twins, can be a bridge technology in making this happen. As shown in the clip drones will become more and more used to create VR environment, capturing 360° virtual environment through software that combines the video streams from the drones cameras (more on this in the next post).
Of course it is not a big deal to imagine a combination of drones and Augmented Reality! You fly (seamlessly) your drone, get images from its camera and those images get augmented by additional information providing an Augmented Reality experience.
There is, however, another way of looking at the pair drone-augmented reality: using a drone to project AR on the physical world.
The Space Creator Drone, in the picture, instead of having a digital camera has a digital projector. This is used to project digital images onto physical objects “augmenting” them. It is the first of this kind (that I am aware of) but I expect in this decade we are going to see several others.