Drones, also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), have exploded in popularity in the past few years, especially with millennials and YouTube film makers. I am not talking about the drones that are flown by the military and drop bombs, but the ones that many people refer to as “toys.” The so-called toys are proving themselves to being a major asset to business and the economy, especially the high-end drones that are very effective tools. Yes, it is true that many drones are being purchased by hobbyists, but many of those hobbyists that are now finding ways of making money with their drones. Let’s talk about a few business ideas that you can start with a drone.

1 Aerial photography. More and more thousand-dollar drones are being used to replace expensive, million-dollar helicopters to get aerial photographs and videos. But they are also much safer to fly in populated areas than a several-thousand-pound helicopter with hundreds of pounds of highly flammable jet fuel. Besides being popular for use in television, film and sporting events for safe, low-altitude imagery, they are gaining popularity for use in documenting events, weddings and even helping to promote home real estate and commercial properties. Personally, I am waiting for delivery of a drone, so that I can use it to showcase the building that houses our office for rent space in Telsec Business Centres and the surrounding area attractions.

2 Building Inspections — Roofs, sidings, chimneys or other exterior elements. The real estate industry is learning that, beyond using drones to capture the wonders and charms of a property, drones can help facilitate more efficient and safe ways of doing exterior inspections of homes and multistorey properties. Inspectors no longer need to climb a ladder or be taken up in cherry pickers to view the condition of the roof, the sidings or other exterior elements that a potential buyer needs to know about. A drone can get close-up images of the exterior building and provide a documented copy of what they find. Many existing home inspection companies are starting to use drones to aid in their inspections, but most choose to hire an experienced drone pilot to do the actual flying. Why not become one of those pilots or learn the business of home inspection and take on the whole job yourself?

3 Commercial, industrial, and insurance inspections. As with roof and building inspections for homes, drones are increasingly being used in other industries to perform inspections that are costly or hazardous for human inspectors to perform. When disasters occur or damage is made to a commercial property, insurance companies want the claimant to provide as much evidence as they can to make their claim. This can be before-and-after images, so companies not only want post disaster footage, they want proactive images of how the property currently stands (in case of a disaster).

As a drone operator company, you could facilitate owners of commercial and industrial properties to take stock of their holdings of things such as:

  • Buildings and facilities
  • Cellphone towers
  • TV towers
  • Power lines
  • Pipelines
  • Solar fields
  • Wind farms

4 Agricultural Surveys. The use of drones is revolutionizing the agriculture industry. The ability to survey crops from the air with inexpensive drones equipped with a variety of sensors enables a farmer or agriculture corporation to collect an unprecedented amount of useful data. Just some of the things that modified drones can do are:

  • Soil hydration audits
  • Inspection of soil composition
  • The testing for pest or fungal infestations

Not to mention that drone crop surveys can be regularly taken monthly, weekly, daily or even hourly as required. Having accurate information on field conditions allows for optimal crop irrigation, fertilization and pest control. That same drone that checks pest control levels, can be modified to do micro pest control of areas that were missed by mass spraying.

5 Infrastructure inspections and audits for government. It is no secret that aging infrastructure has caught the eyes of governments around the world, fueled by disasters and media coverage. In an effort to survey as much infrastructure – such as bridges, highway over passes, damns, tunnels, roads and other facilities that service the public – governments are learning that the inspection and surveying of these can be done faster and more efficiently by drones. Many government agencies responsible for the inspection of infrastructure have realized that it is more cost-effective and time-effective to hire private contractors who have the equipment, rather than investing in the drones and having staff trained to use them.

6 Mapping and surveying. Land surveyors are also increasingly turning to drones to acquire highly accurate digital survey data from the air in a fraction of the time (and at a fraction of the expense) required by traditional survey teams working on the ground. With the help of drones and GPS, as well as base station reference data, surveyors can use this technology to create three-dimensional cartographic information with greater accuracy.

7 Drone training. When companies or governments start adopting drones for various uses, someone has to train their staff on how to use them properly. This is especially true when those groups utilize drones in regulated areas. Many of the modern drones seem like they can almost fly themselves, but the reality is that they still require a skilled operator to take the controls. In some jurisdictions, certain sizes of drones require a government license and operator testing. Why not build a business being that expert who trains drone operators?