November 08, 2017      

The opportunities that can be realized when deploying robotics as a service are seemingly endless. The RaaS model offers an attractive alternative to buying robots because it allows the end user to lease automation. It also eliminates the upfront capital cost associated with buying a robot and provides a reliable revenue stream for the supplier. Drones as a service can follow the examples of software and robots as a service.

Unmanned aerial systems open up new avenues for businesses to collect vast amounts of data and improve their operations. For instance, they can be useful for precision agriculture, additional nighttime security, wildlife monitoring, and more.

Increasing levels of autonomy are enabling drones to fly overhead with minimal pilot direction and send the most pertinent data back to mission control. The growing popularity of RaaS or drones as a service models could one day lead to the “Internet of Drones” coming to fruition.

Drones as a service grow in government

Although consumers will continue to purchase drones for personal uses such as aerial photography, the growth of drones as a service means more businesses will have access to big data and insights from mobile sensors.

By 2020, the fastest growth opportunity for drones will come from business and civil governments, predicts Goldman Sachs. This projected growth could help catapult this market forward, allowing for new entrants.

Drones are able to reach new altitudes and collect more data at a faster pace than the human eye, which is what helps make drones as a service so valuable. They can monitor an environment in real time and share only the most important information as they have it.

The controller can see what the drone sees — as it sees it. Other emerging applications for drones as a service and a force multiplier include infrastructure and utility inspection and warehouse management.

As end users place less importance on hardware, those intent on deploying a drones as a service are likely doing so for the data they can relay.

More on RaaS and Drones:

The ‘Internet of Drones’

A single drone can accomplish a lot; now imagine an entire network of drones, all sharing information, reporting back to mission control, and providing critical information to those on the ground.

Drones as a service will help users with fleets of UAVs.

Though the regulatory standards are not yet there, the “Internet of Drones” may not be too crazy of a concept.

Envision this situation: A local police force has signed a leasing agreement to deploy drones as a service. When a dispatcher receives a 911 call from a house, a drone can immediately launch and monitor the area above the location where the call came from.

The UAS can see if anyone leaves the house, and it could follow the person, regardless of whether the individual is moving on foot or by car.

While monitoring these events and reporting critical data back to mission control, the drone is also monitoring how much power it needs to return to base. If it needs to refuel, it can communicate with another drone in the area, which will then launch and take over the operation providing an eye in the sky to the police.

Robots and drones as a service offer a new wealth of opportunities for data collection at a price much lower than purchasing devices upfront. Though the regulatory standards surrounding drone deployments continue to evolve, there is great potential for commercial and civil applications for drones and the data they can capture. The Internet of Drones could be here before we know it!

Editor’s Note: Tom Ramar spoke on a panel on “Robotics as a Service: Feasibility and Opportunity” in our “Robotics Nuts and Bolts for Your Business” track at RoboBusiness 2017 this fall.