UAVs just toys for the boys?

As with anything, first impressions count, so as a newbie to the world of UAVs here’s a summary of what I’ve learnt one month in.

There is no doubt that initial impressions about UAVs all centre on how amazing these little beasts are. However, when you get beyond the thrill of the whirring blades and the gadget geekery you realise that maybe they are largely just a means to an end. Incidentally, that ‘end’ is a very sophisticated level of high quality imagery and data.

 My octo copter is bigger than yours - does the client really care?

In a commercial sense the benefit to the end user comes not from how many rotors you have quad copter vs octocopter etc. but in solving a real business problem such as how to inspect hard to reach roofs or river banks. Furthermore the investment has to be not only in the UAV itself but also in the quality and variety of the sensors that it carries. It is the depth and type of information captured which will deliver solutions for the customer.

All PR is good?

Sometimes it’s difficult to get beyond the hype especially when it seems that the PR that drones are currently receiving is not really doing the industry any favours. The majority of drone related news bites are centred on military use and 'enthusiasts' with crash videos on YouTube. All this is making it really hard to promote the very real benefits that are set to come from using UAVs. The message that they can be used for a variety of highly sophisticated commercial tasks in a way than delivers better data & imagery at a fraction of the present cost, is currently being lost.

Should you use sex appeal to sell?

Indeed it’s a dilemma whether from a marketing perspective you use the sex appeal surrounding UAVs to engage the customer or whether you demonstrate how you can best answer the client’s needs and by the way using a UAV is the route to this. At the end of the day it’s probably a bit of both as without the UAV we wouldn't be able to reach some of the locations we currently do. One of the real benefits of using a UAV to capture data is its accessibility.

In conclusion - without the UAV as the means there would be no quality solution

Fundamentally it is the whizzy nature of the UAV that gives it its ability to reach places other cameras can’t reach, more cost effectively, more efficiently and more safely while at the same time delivering infinitely better quality information. It’s all about getting the shot that delivers the data that resolves the client’s issue.

So whilst there is definitely an element of toys for the boys about this industry the reality beyond that in a commercial sense is really exciting and the challenge will be getting industry of all types to see the possibilities.