26 June 2023

Agriculture, eCommerce and Construction: The Many Ways Australian Businesses Are Utilising Drones

Recreational drones have surged in popularity in recent times in Australia, largely because they are affordable, not covered by too many regulations, and don’t require the operator to have a licence.

Commercial drone operations involve a higher cost and a greater level of regulation and licensing, but this has not proved to be a deterrent for the many Australian businesses who are now taking advantage of the opportunities presented by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

Why Australia’s drone industry is thriving

Australian regulations covering drones, even when used for business, are essentially user-friendly. The regulatory agency is the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), and the stipulations are:

  • All drones used for business
  • Business-use drones weighing less than 2kg
  • A commercial drone weighing more than 2kg

In addition to these simple drone-friendly laws, Australia benefits from a good local aircraft manufacturing base, centred on Boeing Australia and a number of smaller companies, as well as a government-backed drone research field. The nation has plenty of land and coastline available for drone operation, and its proximity to Asia-Pacific growth markets will assist in the development of an industry expected to contribute an annual $15 billion to the Australian economy by 2040.

Drones in agribusiness

Primary production has much to gain from drone-related efficiencies. Drones can bring the benefits of remote operation and automation to livestock management, crop planting and spraying, as well as providing the convenience of aerial mapping and asset and water management on large properties.

Drones used in agribusiness may be quite large, given the heavy payloads often required, leading to sizable capital costs in the range $15,000-$50,000. However, the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries says that they are relatively cheap to operate and maintain.

Drones in eCommerce

UAVs provide an alternative form of automated delivery for items such as parcels, food and pathology samples. It’s already happening in Logan, Queensland, and in the ACT, with over 100,000 drone deliveries completed in 2021 and 30,000 in the first three months of 2022. Smartphone and GPS technologies are used to guide the drone from a distribution centre, shop, food outlet or clinic to the drop-off destination. Australia’s sprawling cities and remote regional areas are ideal targets for drone delivery services, and will provide stiff competition for traditional van deliveries as well as Uber Eats, Deliveroo and Menulog.

Drones in the construction industry

The construction industry is the fastest growing commercial adopter of UAVs, according to US drone software company DroneDeploy. Drones are used in the sector for 3D mapping, surveying and measuring, as well as conducting safety inspections, using high resolution cameras and data processors. They collect real-time data about what is happening on a construction site, tracking progress and identifying potential problems before they become major headaches.

New equipment needs insurance

Interested in using drones in your business operations? Make sure to speak to us about equipment insurance. With the growing popularity of commercial drone use in industries such as agriculture, eCommerce, and construction, it’s important to ensure that your equipment is protected against damage, theft, or loss.

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