Drone Scotland – Celebrating 6 years in business

Drone Scotland – Lanarkshire Business Awards 2020

This week we celebrate 6 years in business. It might not sound like a long time but 6 years in a tech business is long. So what changes have we seen over this period? How do we think the industry will shape in the next 6 years? What will drones look like in 2029?

How it started

People always ask us how we got into the Drone business? Whilst tempted with clever answers such as being brilliant economic forecasters etc, the truth is we bought a small drone with the intention of taking aerial photographs as a side Hussle. We borrowed £5K from our other business to pay for a training course, insurance and equipment. Our first drone was a DJI Phantom 4 costing £1100. A big investment at the time. We were amazed at how clear the images and video were. Looking back, our practice footage looks amateur and the images and video a little blurry. Those elementary rising shots over buildings. Slow panning left and right. Zooming in and out of castles etc. Every drone pilot produces the same style of shots when they start out. We were no different.

Bjorn Aaen Drone Scotland
Bjorn with our first drone, 2017 – DJI Phantom 4

How it’s going now

6 years on and the Phantom 4 has retired to our tech museum alongside some Nokia phones and the original i-pod. Technology has evolved at a fast pace. Manufacturers are producing task specific drones as the industry evolves. As such, we continue to invest in new drones, sensors and cameras. We now deploy specific drones for specific tasks such as LiDAR surveying, building inspections, land surveying, tv commercials and internal drone projects. Similarly we’ve invested in various software applications to support the outputs. It’s a continual investment and it’s costly but ensures the highest quality work is produced for our clients. But not everyone has followed the same route.

There are now less Drone pilots with an Operational Authorisation from the CAA than there were 6 years ago. Changes in legislation have discouraged operators who don’t wish to fill out lots of paperwork and try work out where you can and can’t fly legally and safely. Drone legislation is constantly changing. For those operating as a side Hussle, it’s a lot to keep up with. These operators can get round legislation by deploying sub 250g drones. (Otherwise categorised as toy drones) It can be faster and less expensive. But these gains are offset by the reduction in quality. There are obvious limitations as to what can be achieved using a toy drone. Fine for weddings and photographs of your house, but try surveying a construction site and you will soon understand the limitations.

Drone LiDAR image
Drone mounted LiDAR – Drone Scotland 2023

We now work across various sectors deploying specific task oriented drones and sensors, supported by the latest software. We capture data for housebuilders, archaeologists, construction companies, surveyors, engineering firms, commercial property developers and public sector organisations. We also shoot cine grade footage for TV commercials and commercial videos.

We want to continually raise the bar and deliver high quality outputs to our clients in each sector. This means we have to continually invest in our own skills, training and technology. In 2021 we invested 50% of our profits back into technology. It’s costly, but high quality outputs set us apart. In 2022 we obtained our Operational Safety Case from the CAA. This allows us to fly legally where 99.95% of other operators can’t.

We must continually evolve with the industry and the demands of our clients to remain relevant. Remaining stagnant is not an option in a tech driven sector. We are still as passionate about drones today as we were 6 years ago. We continue to deliver guest lectures at Universities and schools to try and educate and inspire the next generation of pilots.

Drones in 2029

So where will we be in 2029?

The Drone industry is forecast to continue to grow at a fast pace. Fortune Business Insights report “The global drone services market is projected to grow from $13.48 billion in 2022 to $232.8 billion by 2029, at a CAGR of 42.78% in forecast period, 2022-2029.”

In my opinion the UK market will continue to grow. Drone services will continue to become more specific to industry sectors and tasks. I still believe there will be a market for toy drones and operators for generic photography and weddings. But this will be subject to legislation remaining as is. Any changes from the CAA could wipe out the toy drone market.

Beyond that, the future of drones includes autonomous drones and bigger and more powerful drones with larger payloads. Drones used in Construction, Agriculture and Medical supplies will revolutionise traditional workflows. The future is exciting and at Drone Scotland we’re excited to be part of it.

For more information on Drone Scotland contact us at office@dronescotland.com

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