Most popular drone applications and industries

The analysts and commercial drone research company Drone Industry Insights have released an accounting of the most popular industrial applications for drone technology in 2024.

We have reproduced the report below, but you can get the original on their website here.

When it comes to commercial drone use, people want to know which are the top industries for drones and what drones are doing there.

That is the focus of the annual Drone Application Report, and this blog covers the most up-to-date answers to those questions about using drones for commercial purposes.

Leading Industries for Commercial Drone Use

Overall, many industries are focused on one application method. For example, the Arts & Entertainment industry primarily uses drone photography; Insurance does drone inspections; the Mining & Quarrying Industry primarily performs out drone Mapping & Surveying, etc.

However, practically all industries use drones for various activities beyond one primary usage, and some are not exclusively focused on just one application method.

Energy and Agriculture use all drone application methods — at least to some degree. Energy relies heavily on Inspections, while Mapping & Surveying are also quite present.

In Agriculture, the top application methods are Mapping & Surveying and, of course, Spraying & Dispensing.

These two industries, along with Construction, have the biggest markets for drone technology. 

Nevertheless, there are several other industries where drones are used for just about everything. In Educational, Scientific & Technical Services, drones are used for everything except spraying and dispensing.

Meanwhile, in Public Administration, drones do everything besides delivery (for now), with a particularly strong use for Mapping & Surveying.

Public Emergency Services also do just about everything, with a primary market for Localisation & Tracking and Photography & Filming. 

Other types of commercial drone use that are worth noting include drone deliveries in the Healthcare and Disaster Relief industry vertical (e.g., Delivery of life-saving defibrillators and other medical supplies); Localisation & Tracking tasks for Safety & Security (e.g., surveillance of sensitive infrastructure); and drone mapping in the Waste Management industry (e.g., landfill capacity calculations).

These only include a few further examples, yet the core takeaway is that commercial drones are becoming increasingly present throughout all global industries.

Commercial Drone Use: Main Application Methods

As a general observation, drone Mapping & Surveying are the most popular commercial drone uses and are present in almost all industry verticals analysed.

This application method is closely followed by drone Inspections, which are in turn followed by Drone Photography & Filming.

Mapping and Surveying are the top drone application methods in Mining & Quarrying, but there is also a lot of activity in Construction, Public Administration, and Waste Management.

Drones are also somewhat present in other industries such as Agriculture, Educational, Scientific & Technical Services, Energy, and Transportation Infrastructure.

The only industry where drone Mapping & Surveying doesn’t seem to play any role is Insurance, where the most common commercial use of drones is Inspection.

Inspection also plays a significant role in Energy and Telecommunications.

Other industries where drone Inspections are present include Real Estate & Industrial Maintenance, Transportation Infrastructure, and Waste Management.

Like Mapping & Surveying, there is only one industry where this method is not present: Arts & Entertainment.

Photography is the top commercial drone use in Arts & Entertainment, as well as in Information & Motion Pictures. This application method also plays a significant role in Construction, Educational, Scientific & Technical Services, Public Emergency Services, and Real Estate & Industrial Maintenance. 

The remaining methods are much less prominent but present and usually reasonably expected. Delivery is the most common method in Cargo & Logistics, and in Healthcare & Disaster Relief.

Drone Spraying & Dispensing are present primarily in Agriculture (where these are tied as the top method alongside Mapping & Surveying) but also play a role in a few other industries.

Localisation & Tracking play somewhat of a role in Public Emergency Services and Safety & Security while still being present in almost all other industries.


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