Drone On and On

Drones could revolutionize everything from natural resource protection, agriculture, emergency services and the military. They represent tremendous opportunities for good but there are equal risks of doing harm. Read on to see how you can exploit this innovation and mitigate harm to your organization.
What is changing?


  • Upwards of one million drones will be sold in 2015.
  • The number of drones sold annually around the world is expected to hit at least 1.4 million by 2025.
  • By 2019 the small unmanned aerial vehicle commercial sector will have revenues exceeding $5.1 billion.
  • Consumers are expected to purchase the majority of the 300,000unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, projected to sell this year, but while “the big base is among consumers, the value creation is among enterprises.
  • The demand from businesses for a cheaper methodology ofdelivering physical goods will hasten drone development.
  • Drones will initially flourish more in the developing world where remote villages span huge distances and a lack of regulatory framework provides little to hamper the development of thetechnology.
  • African countries will likely have drone delivery before it is available in the United States or Europe.


  • Duke Energy could soon deploy drones to inspect power lines and solar farms.
  • A tiny artificial eye inspired by the vision systems of insects could help small flying drones navigate their surroundings well enough to avoid collisions while buzzing around in confined, cluttered spaces.
  • Drones could improve response to storms and other outages.
  • Archeologists and volunteers will begin using drones to survey sites along Britain’s coastline that are at risk due to rising sea levels.
  • Drones can be used to predict maintenance needs.
  • Mini drones could be deployed at the scene of a disaster.
  • Survey drones could instantly be pulled from their duties to make time-critical deliveries.
  • Drones are used to create ad hoc Wi-Fi networks for first responders in cases where disasters have knocked out cellular systems.
  • Drones will make insurance adjusters’ work flow 40%-50% more efficient.
  • Alibaba’s major online marketplace Taobao will be delivering small packages of ginger tea to 450 paying customers in Guangzhou, Beijing, and Shanghai, by drone.


  • Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley are now testing a kind of license plate for drones they think could help make drone operators more accountable.
  • Any drone sold as a consumer product which is heavier than 4 kg could comply with the applicable general product safety Directive and shall have the means to automatically limit the airspace it can enter and the means to allow automatic identification.
  • Web-connected drones will enjoy high-speed transport between 200 to 400 feet.
  • Hobbyists will find themselves heavily regulated by the FAA and banned by states and local communities.
  • American companies will move the research and development ofcommercial drones overseas to take advantage of the more permissive environment.
  • Requiring blinking LED license plates on drones could help the public and law enforcement keep them in line.
  • Drone/UAV consumers will no longer be able to fly without any oversight or education.
  • Domestic drone manufacturers will need to disclose the name of the end user and intended use of the drone before the sale is approved.
  • The ability of waterproof drones will aid in exercises such as search and rescue missions when the weather is an issue for human deployment.


  • There could be synergies with personal air vehicles where drone technologies could be used to design fully automated aircraft where persons on board would be passengers that would simply provide the itinerary or define the destination.
  • Drones currently represent equal parts threat and opportunity for nuclear facilities.
  • Exchange of information between civil and military will be important in order to improve drone safety.
  • Aerial internet connections will likely be crucial for courier drones and other robotic aircraft.
  • Space drones will collect samples from planets and asteroids.
  • Drone delivery could greatly reduce emissions associated with transport.


  • There will undoubtedly be all sorts of prohibitions against drones at the Rio Olympics, with regulations likely coming from Brazil’s government (concerned with drone terrorism) and the IOC (concerned with media rights).
  • The price of a drone with reasonable AI will one day become as accessible as an AK-47.
  • Drones are posing a large threat to firefighters in California.
  • Police could enforce the appropriate use of the drones.
  • Drones need to be treated as new types of aircraft with proportionate rules based on the risk of each operation.
  • Drones could be stressing out wildlife.
  • Armed drones will patrol the skies searching for enemy targets to eliminate.
  • The Pentagon could develop strategies that involve swarms of low-cost, expendable drones that overwhelm an adversary’s defences.
  • Drones will fly into Planes and Bring One Down.
  • People will continue to shy away from and resist the use of drones in their communities.
  • A civilian drone could be electronically modified by another nation or terrorist organization to be capable of making better tactical decisions than human-controlled systems.
  • Unmanned aircraft systems or drones could be used in the U.S. to advance terrorist and criminal activities.
  • Having more drones aloft raises the risk of collisions with aircraft and with people or property on the ground.

Learn More
What future opportunities and risks could arise for your organization from advances in drone technologies? Develop your answer and response here.

Find the sources and more resources on Shaping Tomorrow’s ‘Drone On and On’ some of which were used in this Trend Alert, or ask us for our ready-made and free, in-depth PowerPoint report or more detailedGIST briefing on this or any other topic of interest to you.

Also, click here to find out how Shaping Tomorrow can help your organization rapidly assess and respond to these and other key issues affecting your business.


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