Action needed within next year for UK to catch up in drone economy race, new report shows 

Mobile industry insights, forecast and research specialist GSMA Intelligence have today launched a new report revealing that the UK is falling behind other global players in the race for drone innovation. The report, commissioned by BT Group, outlines how the UK must learn from international peers and lays out recommendations which could help guarantee the UK is a leader in the drone economy if acted on within the next year.   

The research, supported by BT Group, found that many of the UK’s international partners, including Japan, Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy have seen their drone ecosystems develop faster due to established regulatory systems and infrastructure. The UK currently sits at the middle ‘drone readiness’ index, with Switzerland taking the leading position and the US at the bottom of the table reflecting slower progress in drone regulatory rules.  

With drones potentially contributing £45 billion to the UK economy and supporting 650,000 jobs by 2030, following the report’s recommendations has transformative potential for both the public and private sectors.  

A separate poll for BT Group* found that 75% of consumers believe that it is essential for drones to be used for public service delivery, and two-thirds agree that drones could have a positive impact on their lives. In this context, the UK now has a window of as little as 12 months to facilitate greater investment and technological development, or risk falling behind.   

To increase drone readiness in the UK and win the race to the top, the report outlines four key recommendations for the UK government, the UK aviation regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), and other relevant agencies: 

  • Facilitating permissions for safe, remotely piloted drone flights at scale: Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) drone capability underpins a successful drone industry and its applications. Although the UK has a BVLOS policy, it was found to be confusing and unclear among the raft of companies and start-ups testing or seeking deployment of their services at scale. The implementation guidelines need to be simplified and modernised. And a supporting regulatory framework that includes Unmanned Aircraft Traffic System Management (UTM), safety standards and training – must be a priority.  
  • Enforce pro-innovation regulations and a pro-growth regulatory culture: The (CAA) must formulate workable regulations that promote investment in a timely manner, while ensuring safe operations and delivering public confidence in the industry.  
  • Extend the Future Flight Challenge: The UK has many innovative companies in the drone sector that need a say in regulatory development. The flagship Future Flight Challenge, which the government has funded, has been a clear help and stimulus to private sector innovation and so this, or a related scheme, should be extended.  
  • Act now: The UK has a window that is as narrow as 12 months to set the regulations and guidance that will help the sector thrive. The study found that many advanced economies expect drone regulations to be in place by 2024–2025, a date that the UK must also meet to remain competitive in developing home-grown technology for domestic use and in export markets.  

BT Group’s research also reveals that there is strong consumer demand for drone capabilities from a wide range of industries such as utilities, public services, manufacturing, last-mile logistics and distribution, conservation and land/forestry management, film and TV sectors.    

BT Group’s startup incubation hub, Etc., has already made significant steps in unlocking the potential of drones. Earlier this year, Etc. announced a landmark partnership with UTM specialist Altitude Angel, a partnership that will help enable Etc. to become a one-stop shop for UK drone enablement capabilities. Actioning the report’s recommendations could play a key role in bringing to market further opportunities that drone technology has to offer the public and private sector – from supporting the police to rapid transport of blood samples and delivery of items cheaper and faster than ever before.  

Dave Pankhurst, Director of Drones, Etc. at BT Group said, “Across the globe, the drone industry is being rapidly unlocked. Tapping into this can transform the world of business, the delivery of public services, and the prospects for the UK economy.  

BT Group is leading from the front. Our mobile network, as the largest and most reliable in the UK, could be critical. From improving flight control; assisting with authentication and authorisation; facilitating data transmission; and enabling cellular communication, 4G and 5G technology can be the backbone of the industry.  

“At Etc., we have reached some significant landmarks already, but with these new recommendations, we hope to rally the support of the government and industry regulators for the UK drone industry to reach its full potential.”  

Tim Hatt, Head of Consulting, GSMA Intelligence, adds “There is no question drones will be a key part of successful digital economies. The technology side of development is happening at pace across the board. The issue now is having regulatory systems that enable commercial expansion at scale. The challenge for the UK is that, despite huge progress in drone development, regulation has not kept pace and the country therefore scores only 62 out of 100 on overall market readiness, placing it behind European peers and others such as Japan.  

This need not be the case. Beyond the hive of activity happening in the drone sector, UK mobile network infrastructure and service development are advancing; 4G and 5G mobile coverage now reach 99% and 63% of the population respectively. Taking action on these recommendations would go a long way to helping the government’s ambitions to make the UK a technological leader in the 5G era, providing a boost to GDP, jobs and international competitiveness”.  

*The consumer research was conducted using Yonder’sonline omnibus among a nationally representative sample of 2,092 UK adults between 29 and 30 March 2023. 

As the start-up incubation team within BT Group’s Digital unit, Etc. is boosting the businesses of the future and driving solutions in existing and emerging categories including drones, healthtech, and fintech and beyond.    

About BT Group   

BT Group is the UK’s leading provider of fixed and mobile telecommunications and related secure digital products, solutions and services. We also provide managed telecommunications, security and network and IT infrastructure services to customers across 180 countries.  

BT Group consists of three customer-facing units: Consumer serves individuals and families in the UK; Business* covers companies and public services in the UK and internationally; Openreach is an independently governed, wholly owned subsidiary wholesaling fixed access infrastructure services to its customers – over 650 communication providers across the UK.  

British Telecommunications plc is a wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group plc and encompasses virtually all businesses and assets of the BT Group. BT Group plc is listed on the London Stock Exchange.  

For more information, visit   

*Business was formed on 1 January 2023 from the combination of the former Enterprise and Global units.  It commenced reporting as a single unit from 1 April 2023, with pro forma reporting information to be produced ahead of BT Group’s Q1 FY24 results.  

For more information, visit   

About GSMA Intelligence 

GSMA Intelligence is the definitive source of global mobile operator data, analysis and forecasts, and publisher of authoritative industry reports and research. Our data covers every operator group, network and MVNO in every country worldwide – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. It is the most accurate and complete set of industry metrics available, comprising tens of millions of individual data points, updated daily.  

GSMA Intelligence is relied on by leading operators, vendors, regulators, financial institutions and third-party industry players, to support strategic decision-making and long-term investment planning. The data is used as an industry reference point and is frequently cited by the media and by the industry itself.  

Our team of analysts and experts produce regular thought-leading research reports across a range of industry topics.   

[email protected]  

Drone Readiness Index Methodology  

To follow an evidence-based approach, GSMA Intelligence constructed an index that is split into two broad parts: one on regulatory status and the other on a range of market indicators that collectively assess economic strength, telecoms sector readiness, and enterprise demand (i.e. from companies and organisations most likely to use drones as part of their operations).  

Each metric has been assigned a weighting factor, which corresponds to the relative level of importance a metric has on the overall index score; the higher the weight, the higher the importance.   

Weightings have been determined through a combination of research, data analysis and industry conversations about which indicators have the largest bearing on the drone market.                                                                 

Zeitview Expands Rooftop Inspection Capacity with AI-Enabled Software Platform

Zeitview announced the expansion of its AI-enabled Property Insights Platform for assessing rooftop conditions, including the use of drones. Photo courtesy of Zeitview.

SANTA MONICA, Calif.—Roofing can be a substantial investment for properties of all sizes. With routine monitoring and maintenance, the lifetime of a roof can be extended while enhancing safety and ultimately saving money.

Zeitview, which provides advanced inspection software and services, today announced the expansion of its AI-enabled Property Insights Platform to assess rooftop conditions efficiently and safely. The company’s new offerings include thermal capabilities for commercial properties and artificial intelligence/machine learning damage assessment capabilities for commercial, residential and multi-family properties. Supported by high-resolution aerial imagery of the roof secured from drone flights, the user-friendly Property Insights Platform assesses rooftop conditions, identifies anomalies such as debris, hail damage, rust, and more, and recommends optimized maintenance schedules.

Manual inspection methods are time-consuming, potentially hazardous, and often result in missed anomalies. Zeitview’s solution eliminates these challenges by providing fully transparent damage assessments in minutes. Using drones for rooftop and facade thermal inspection and analysis allows customers to proactively find moisture under a roof membrane and potential areas of energy loss around the facade, enabling them to act before it spreads or results in total replacement. The AI/ML technology is used to identify the most common and costly rooftop anomalies (including hail damage, water ponding, deteriorated membrane) that could require attention or remediation. The AI vision highlights areas not characteristic of the roof itself, objectively covering every square inch and cataloging potential damage.

“We cannot overstate the time saved by utilizing drones for rooftop inspection purposes,” said Dan Burton, founder and CEO at Zeitview. “Through our comprehensive analysis, our customers can make faster decisions about each property’s real-time condition while increasing efficiency and maximizing deliverables. Our client partnerships have grown to include pre- and post-construction images, thermal analysis, conditional analysis on properties across the country because the software platform offers robust reporting and a one-stop-shop for drone services used by the industry.”

Zeitview customers benefit from the combined understanding of the AI-enabled software paired with an in-house team of roof experts that collectively analyze the imagery, determine the severity of the damage and create specialized condition reports. Within the condition report, each type of anomaly is overlaid on a 2-D orthomosaic map that fabricates a reproduction of the roof with enough accuracy to identify even the most minor signs of damage. The platform offers customizable thermal and measurement reports to drill down to the exact location of each rooftop variation. Further thermal analysis takes place within the platform with qualitative temperature data and visualization to triage sub-membrane roof anomalies. Customers can also use the imagery captured to create their own reports using the Property Insights Platform.

“Advanced inspection is quickly becoming more accessible through the use of drones and other smart technologies, leading to increased adoption by roofing contractors, manufacturers, commercial real estate, property managers and insurance adjusters,” said Jose Giraldo, general manager of property at Zeitview. “Given the highly reliable data provided by aerial imagery, we are excited to launch this expansion of our Property Insights Platform to provide our customers tools that standardize information while speeding up workflow and lowering costs. We want to enable our customers to get a first line of defense on their entire property portfolio in one place so that they can filter information quickly and get to what is most important about the condition of their property.”

Air Data Systems BVLOS RPAS Pilot – PIC Africa

At Air Data Systems, our mission is to give customers actionable insights and intelligence to make critical decisions faster.

Our RPAS programs are being deployed across the globe to meet the increasing needs of data acquisition in complex and high-risk locations.

We currently have an exciting opportunity for two experienced pilots to join and help us deliver one of the most significant BVLOS projects in Africa.

Understanding UAS flight operations and technical build aspects of VTOL, and Fixed Wing platforms is essential.

The role of the RPAS Pilot will entail working with multiple stakeholders, including Air Traffic Controllers, Engineering teams, and flight operations teams, and complying with predefined operational procedures and safety cases that enable enhanced BVLOS) operations.


  • Remotely-piloted fixed-wing experience is essential.
  • Conventional (crewed) pilot experience is beneficial.
  • Experience with fixed-wing VTOL platforms is valuable.
  • Experience with ArduPilot is preferable
  • Strong aviation knowledge is critical
  • knowledge and maintenance experience of technical systems, including avionics, ground control systems, and radio systems
  • Have a good understanding of platforms, sensors, and technology.
  • Immediate availability for international deployment for a fixed term (Africa)
  • Experience working remotely as part of a deployment is preferable

Apply here

Trends: Environmental Monitoring

Drones Provide Critical Insights on the Impact of Climate Change

A view over Danum Valley, Malayasia at sunrise. Photo credit: Catherine Waite.

Scientists are increasingly leveraging drones for climate-related research, with the systems making it easier to monitor environmental changes over time in coastal areas, tropical rain forests, glaciers, wetlands and other remote locations that are difficult to study.

Environmental scientists are known to travel to remote, dangerous locations in the name of climate research, gathering as much data as possible on the ground, by boat or from the air. They’re using various instruments to monitor coral reefs, tropical rain forests, coasts and glaciers, all in an effort to learn more about how rising temperatures might be impacting the Earth.

This is important yet difficult work, with researchers always looking for ways to cut costs and improve efficiencies. As drones become both more affordable and user friendly, they’re filling that need. UAS are now a common observation tool deployed on science missions, obtaining critical data from areas once deemed unreachable.

“Drones are being used in a huge number of research fields to help with monitoring because they make it more accessible,” said Catherine Waite, who has flown drones to map bird habitats and study lianas in tropical rain forests through research with the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom. “It’s easily repeatable and more cost effective than sending people on the ground for surveying, and it provides a long-term data repository that makes it possible to look at changes over time.”

Drones carrying multispectral cameras can identify tree species from the air for species mapping, for example, or researchers can track animals with thermal sensors, Waite said. Drones also can be deployed to study coastlines, rivers, streams and glaciers and track changes year over year, helping scientists determine how changing temperatures are altering those environments.

Drones are also being flown to measure C02 and methane emissions, said Erik de Badts, AgEagle Aerial Systems’ sensor channel sales manager for Europe and Latin America. They’re flying over waste dump sites in big cities, for example, to measure the amount of methane released. These systems are also monitoring for and tracking the forest fires that rising temperatures are making more common.

UAS are providing researchers with measurements they didn’t have access to before, which is why Christopher Zappa, a seagoing observational physical oceanographer, has been using the technology since 2010. He studies the boundary layers on both sides of the dynamic air-sea interface.

“Drones are essentially where underwater vehicles were 20 to 30 years ago,” said Zappa, who is a Lamont Research Professor and the associate director of ocean and climate physics at Columbia University. “It’s an incredible platform, and we are just starting to build the sensor payloads required for scientific research. There is a proliferation of uses, whether it be monitoring coastal erosion, studying sea ice dynamics in the Arctic, methane and CO2 outgassing in the Arctic ecosystems, understanding volcanology, or studying the impact of receding glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica on sea level rise.”


Coral reefs represent one of the “two alarm points” for climate change (glaciers being the second), de Badts said, making monitoring, and ultimately protecting, them critical. Coral is the main substrate that maintains these sensitive ecosystems, but when the water temperature rises, they begin to die off—and so do the species that rely on them. AgEagle sensors measure both coral bleaching, an indication they’re dying, and diversity to deliver multispectral maps.

Steve Schill, lead scientist for the Caribbean Division of The Nature Conservancy, designed and built his first multi-rotor in 2014 to monitor mangroves, coral reefs and seagrass, important coastal habitats. He now uses a Wingtra One fixed-wing drone to quickly map even larger areas at the centimeter level, an excellent complement for validating broader scale satellite imagery. The team has monitored several areas around the Caribbean for the past six years and have been able to quantify restoration success.

“Drones are now an essential tool for monitoring very small changes.” Schill said. “We’re using drones not only above water but below as well. We’re creating 3D models of coral reefs and measuring growth and erosion, prevalence of disease and monitoring threats.”

Drones fill an important monitoring niche, answering research questions at the local scale. Surveying within centimeter level accuracy is key, Schill said, and from that they can use multi-temporal datasets to detect change in coral growth over time. In clear, shallow water, they use drones to count thousands of coral colonies via machine learning.

To determine habitats in deeper areas, Schill uses tethered drop video cameras that can reach 100 feet in depth. These video transects provide valuable information for mapping algorithms that are used to detect habitats across broader scales using satellite imagery that can map to 100-foot depths in clear waters.

For mangrove projects, the team uses centimeter level photogrammetrically-derived point clouds and orthomosiacs to measure ground biomass for carbon estimations, he said, and works with scientists who take soil samples to analyze the carbon. By combining the data, they can create 3D models of the mangrove canopy and calculate more accurate measurements of carbon storage and sequestration estimates.

When mapping seagrass, species and density measurements are collected in the field, then coupled with drone data and extrapolated to larger areas using satellite imagery. Different seagrass types have different spectral characteristics and ecological roles, so they’re also creating a machine learning library to help quickly recognize various species and density patterns.

“Each project has a specific research question, whether we’re looking at climate change adaptation, climate change mitigation or coral restoration,” Schill said. “We have to match the appropriate technology to the scale of the project area.”


STANDARDIZING HOW DRONE DATA IS COLLECTED, STORED AND USED is a challenge that still needs to be overcome, as scientists use different drones, sensors and processing techniques, Catherine Waite said. THAT MAKES DATA DIFFICULT TO COMPARE. The goal is to eventually integrate standardized workflows and move from small scale studies to large scale studies.

“If we can work together rather than conducting separate studies,” Waite said, “We can come together and look at global changes through time and understand better what’s happening in our world.”


In climate sciences, UAS are often used to measure the phenomena at the interface between the ocean and the atmosphere, said Michel Gavart, CTO of BOREAL SAS. Little is known about this area because it’s difficult to study via traditional methods. But, because it’s the seat of energy exchanges between the ocean and the atmosphere, it plays an important role in climatic processes. Unlike manned aircraft, drones can safely sample close to the ocean surface, giving scientists access to critical data.

Drones also can sample certain areas with higher temporal and spatial resolution than manned aircraft, Gavart said, where it is important to measure small-scale phenomena.

The ocean-atmosphere interaction is Zappa’s area of focus. He studies how the wind generates waves, how waves grow and eventually break, how they transport heat exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. He also traces gases like CO2 and sea spray from breaking waves.

Before drones, he typically collected data from ships and towers, but these massive structures contaminate the measurements. Drones allow him to get more pristine data. He also can take measurements not possible before, such as how much radiation goes in and out of the ocean at any given time.

His team collects visible images via drones, Zappa said, and uses infrared cameras to measure the ocean temperature. With a hyperspectral, near-infrared camera, they can identify objects like algae blooms in the open ocean and continually monitor their evolution.

“These algae blooms would be difficult to find without a UAV,” Zappa said. “We’re studying how cyanobacteria algae blooms impact the upper ocean heat budget. Blooms that are closer to the surface absorb more heat, and that changes the heat budget. So rather than going deeper in the ocean they’re absorbed near the surface, and that may have implications for climate models.”

Zappa flies a fixed-wing L3 Latitude from L3Harris. The drone has a range of 50 nautical miles, 12 hours of flight time and a 15 pound payload capacity. It also can transmit data back wherever he is in real time, allowing for mission control and tasking.

Once the drone spots something, the team can take the monitoring equipment out of the water, head to where it is and put everything back, Zappa said, a more efficient and cost effective way of conducting research.

Eventually, drones will be integrated with other unmanned systems and will carry additional sensors for an even more sophisticated approach.

“If we can put the right sensor on the aircraft, we’ll measure it, but the biggest thing is size, weight and power,” Zappa said. “The next big leap will be when CO2 systems or any kind of large atmospheric chemistry measurement systems will be small enough to put on drones.”


DRONES ARE INCREASINGLY BEING FLOWN TO MONITOR WEATHER, helping to better predict and track severe storms like cyclones and hurricanes (See Unmanned Systems In the Air and on the Water Help Study Rapid Hurricane Intensification on page 52 for more on hurricanes). For example, Meteo France and BOREAL SAS conducted a scientific measurement campaign from Reunion Island along with the University of La Réunion, BOREAL SAS CTO Michel Gavart said. The goal was to sample the atmosphere over the Indian Ocean in areas of cyclone formation to understand the mechanisms and to improve their forecast.


BOREAL drones were also involved in the meteorological EUREC4A Campaign in the tropics, Gavart said. They flew almost eight hours a day, helping researchers understand the effects of climate change on the tropical zone at the level of trade wind clouds. This is critical, as even the slightest changes show the imbalances in heat exchanges that control climate.

MORE THAN 10 INTERNATIONAL LABORATORIES AND HUNDREDS OF SCIENTISTS WERE INVOLVED, with oceanographic vessels, instrumented floats, land-based observation means, meteorological research aircraft and drones all operating from the cost of Barbados.

The BOREAL fixed-wing UAV flew long range in coordination with other meteorological aircraft to collect radiometry, aerosols, temperature, humidity and turbulence measurements in the lower layers of the atmosphere.


While it comes with its challenges, drones are increasingly being deployed in tropical rain forests. Waite recently used the technology as part of her study on lianas, a woody climbing plant found in tropical rain forests, and the impacts they can have on trees. She led the study while at the University of Nottingham; she’s now at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Australia.

Lianas twine around tree trunks, using them for structural support so they can reach the canopy. Lianas have been increasing in recent years, competing with trees for water and sunlight, which can result in reduced tree growth and even cause trees to die—lowering carbon uptake and storage in tropical forests, posing a threat to the global carbon cycle.

Lianas are difficult to measure from the ground, which is what gave Waite the idea to fly drones. With aerial imagery, Waite can see liana leaves, where they’re spreading and how they’re affecting trees. The first piece of research was a proof of concept to show it’s possible to fly through canopy gaps to collect imagery of lianas. In the most recent study, the team combined drone and ground data to look at where lianas are spreading in the tree canopy, what factors influence where they spread and what makes them more likely to infest a tree. This information can help researchers predict where the lianas will end up and how they’ll impact the carbon cycle.

“When trees die, carbon stored in those trees is released back into the atmosphere,” Waite said. “And because we depend on rain forests for carbon storage to mitigate carbon emissions, if they lose enough carbon and become a source of carbon to the atmosphere, that is bad for the global carbon cycle and climate change. Lianas can affect trees and reduce the amount of carbon being stored in the forest, and that can have quite a big impact.”

One of the main effects of climate change is the collapse of biodiversity, de Badts said, which is why there’s a focus on studying the untouched wetlands where most biodiversity is concentrated. These remote areas are covered in vegetation and mostly inaccessible, so drones like the AgEagle eBee X are being deployed with multispectral cameras to map plant species and monitor their evolution—a challenging application that requires long range radio contact.

“They want to understand vegetation, do health monitoring of the plants and be able to understand the topography and how it’s changing,” Wingtra Product Manager Julian Mackern said, noting it’s also important to monitor invasive species and their impact. “And they want to have an accurate map, and to be able to map these areas even when the tide goes out and they’re under water.”


Researchers are flying drones to identify how ecosystems respond to various forest disturbances, like the drier environment caused by climate change, and their outcomes, said Nayani Ilangakoon, a remote sensing scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES) Earth Lab, a partnership between the University of Colorado Boulder and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The disturbance could be anything, maybe a forest fire or a drought. The drone collects imagery with a multispectral camera and creates indexes to identify if the vegetation that comes in after the disturbance is the same or something new. The orthomosiacs generated identify what’s in the landscape and 3D point clouds show where an object, like a tree, is in space and its height.

Every ecosystem is unique, Ilangakoon said, and if anything changes so do the functions. Some vegetation can adapt, but others need help to grow back to their original state. After a wildfire fire, for example, the trees killed may not regenerate on their own, leaving room for other species to invade.

“These climate related ecosystem changes happen very slowly,” she said. “We can’t identify it in months. Drones allow us to monitor over time in large areas and compare data to other airborne surveys.”

Paul Bealing, who flies most of the drone missions for the University of Canterbury in New Zealand, and Marwan Katurji, also with the university, fly infrared cameras and various meteorologic sensors to study Antarctic microclimates and wildfires. They’ve flown multiple drones equipped with infrared cameras through fire fronts to measure spread rates, temperatures, direction and wind turbulence. In March, the pair plan to conduct a wildfire tornado experiment, using the same technique as past studies but increasing the size of the fire.

Above Sensing, a startup drone service provider out of Canada, recently flew multispectral cameras on a Wingtra fixed-wing to track burn severity of a fire, CEO Vadim Stolyarov said. The team flew about 700 acres to help the client, who harvests burnt logs, see what could be salvaged.

UAS are increasingly being used to fly over post-wildfire landscapes for analysis and seeding. DroneSeed, a climate tech company, is working toward “removing bottlenecks from the reforestation pipeline,” using drone swarms to get seeds in the ground faster.

Landowners affected by wildfire typically wait two to three years for seedlings, DroneSeed CEO Grant Canary said, and that’s something the company aims to change.

The drones are 8 feet in diameter and can carry a 57 pound payload, Canary said, dropping seed pucks that are a mixture of nutrients, moisture-retaining substances and pest repellents. The team collects LiDAR and aerial imagery to identify which areas need regenerated, and work with local forestry experts to analyze soil type, water features and sun exposure to map out optimal planting patterns. Three to five drones fly site-specific routes to drop the pucks. The team returns the following planting season to measure the number of seedlings that took root and to plant more if necessary.

“We are currently in a reforestation deficit,” Canary said. “On a 10-year rolling average, roughly 7 million acres burn in the U.S. alone each year. Climate change is making high-intensity wildfires more prevalent and without the technology to scale along with them, we will never outpace the amount of acreage necessary to reforest each year.”


Glacier melting is the other alarm point for climate change, de Badts said, and many eBee drones are used to measure glacier ice in 3D to calculate ice mass volume.

Glaciers are large and difficult to map, Mackern said, but it’s important to understand how they’re changing. Glaciers have many crevices and tunnels, making it dangerous for humans to take on this task. Drones enable researchers to safely map glaciers and overlay them over time to see how they’re moving and how much height and width they’re losing.

Heather Purdie, an associate professor for glaciology at the University of Canterbury, is among scientists deploying drones for this purpose. Drones make it possible to access areas of the glaciers they couldn’t reach before and to get an accurate rate of glacial retreat. They’re best if the area that needs surveyed isn’t too large, as battery life is still a limitation. Purdie mainly uses optical photography to generate digital elevation models and thermal cameras to map surface temperature.

Accurate positioning and speed are critical, she said, which is why they now use RTK GPS.

“If you want surveys to be repeatable, you need to reduce errors as much as possible,” she said. “We repeat the surveys every year, so we’re looking at change over time. Before we had to spend a lot of time in post processing because the onboard GPS was sufficient to fly but it wasn’t survey grade. We had to put down ground control points, which isn’t easy to do in the places we’re surveying.”

Bealing also has deployed an octocopter with small radars to measure snow depth on sea ice in the Antarctic. The measurements help predict avalanche risk, monitor the impacts of climate change and validate reference measurements from satellites.

Antarctic sea ice is difficult yet important to measure, said Wolfgang Rack, associate professor of remote sensing and glaciology at the University of Canterbury, as its seasonal extent and thickness influences climate. Satellites altimeters are typically used, but without reliable information on snow depth, the measurements aren’t reliable.

The radars send signals to the ground, which then bounce back with information on snow thickness. The data, accurate to a few centimeters, can be combined with satellite imagery to generate 3D maps of snow load.

“With satellites, we have very limited knowledge of how thick sea ice is,” Rack said. “We know the area but not the thickness, and that’s why we want to use snow radar.”

Other researchers are deploying gravimeters and LiDAR, Zappa said, to tell them how thick glaciers are and monitor how receding glaciers are impacting sea levels.

Zappa is also deploying drones to understand how climate change is impacting the traditional ways of life for ingenious communities in Kotzebue, Alaska, specifically sea ice melt seasons. They hunt two types of seals in April, ringed and bearded, and each has a different way of using the ice. The ring seals den while the bearded seals sit on the ice after it breaks up to sunbathe. The ice breaking is critical to the start and end of hunting season, with both happening earlier over the last 20 years.

Using visible and infrared cameras and other sensors, Zappa is looking at how the ice evolves within a season. For example, the color of the ice can tell a lot about whether the ice is ponding or has snow. The infrared sensors also tell them how many and where the seals are, allowing them to build a map of their location.

Mapping large rivers is another application gaining interest, Mackern said, showing changes in the water over time. “This gives you very good information about what’s happening upstream with a glacier or mountains or lakes,” he said. “Based on how much water there is, the rivers change direction. So tracking this helps scientists have a good understanding of how climate is affecting water flow in rivers.”


Drones will continue to play a growing role in climate research, with scientists developing the specialized platforms and payloads they need to answer the most pressing questions, Zappa said.

Study campaigns will become more sophisticated, integrating planes, boats, floats and drone swarms, Gavart said, operated from remote sites for even better sampling.

AI and ML will improve our ability to answer ecological questions and monitor our success in restoring nature, Schill said. Technology will become more plug and play, and multi-temporal data processing more available, streamlining information extraction for decision support.

Sensors will continue to shrink and become more affordable opening up more research opportunities, Waite said. Information collected from drones, manned aircraft and satellites will be routinely integrated together, offering a more complete picture.

Drones will be deployed more in dangerous environments like the Antarctic, Bealing said, for safer, more cost effective research. Bigger drones that can carry more equipment will fly autonomously from their nesting location to glaciers to complete mapping missions. A similar scenario will unfold for wildfire monitoring as automation continues to develop, de Badts said.

Drones will likely be used more for air quality monitoring, Stolyarov said, maybe even making it possible to create a global database. Remote soil sensing is another area drones could impact.

Drones will start doing more on their own, collecting the pristine measurements required for climate science.

“I envision both surface vehicle, airborne and underwater vehicles as an ubiquitous part of ocean observing, out there all the time measuring the ocean processes and changes,” Zappa said of what he expects to see in his field. “And having super sites where you can dock platforms to recharge and then go back out. In general, oceanography is moving toward autonomous workflows because going to sea is very expensive. The more autonomous things can become, the more we can accomplish and understand about the oceans.”

The Top Drone Service Providers in the Industry: DRONEII’s Picks for 2022
top drone service providers, walmart drone delivery

From Zipline

Drone Industry Insights (DRONEII) has named this year’s top drone service providers.

Correction: a previous version of this article incorrectly identified Aerodyne Group as a US-based company.  Aerodyne Group is founded and based in Malaysia.

Continue reading below, or listen:

Winners were divided into two categories.   “…to rank the best drone service companies in the world, we used the size, growth and public attention as reference to determine companies’ performance,” writes DRONEII’s Estaban Zanelli.  “The ranking is split into the 5 best remote sensing companies and the 5 best companies for drone delivery.”

The U.S took the top spots in delivery, with medical drone delivery company Zipline landing the number 1 spot for drone delivery. Malaysia’s Aerodyne Group placing first for remote sensing.

DRONEII top drone service providers

Insights from the Listings: It’s a Wide Open Field

The full report lists the top 20 drone service providers in both categories.  As commercial drone operations begin to scale, drone service providers take on more importance.

While 8 of the top 20, including the top 3 drone delivery service providers are based in the U.S., Zanelli points out that their primary operations take place in other countries. In remote sensing, the list is globally diverse.  “…the best companies for remote sensing only feature 5 American companies in the top 20. So despite being a majority in the overall rankings, the role of the US in terms of operation and influence is not as large as it may initially appear.”

In addition to being geographically diverse, few of the companies that made the list of top drone service providers are backed by large corporations.

Energy is Still the Biggest Customer for Remote Sensing Drone Service Providers

Whether enterprise businesses outsource drone operations or establish an in-house drone team depends upon a number of factors.  Right now, the biggest customer for DSPs is energy.   “As may be expected, almost all of the top 20 remote sensing companies prioritize and are active in the Energy Industry (utilities). This is not only a major industry in terms of the importance of utilities and the money involved, but also in the way that drone technology provides unique improvements to efficiency, safety and savings of both time and money,” Zanelli writes.

Read more:

DRONEII Drone Market Report: Where the Drone Industry Will Grow the Fastest by 2030

Drone Industry Insights (DRONEII) has published their annual flagship product, the Drone Market Report.  This year, the forecast goes out 8 years to 2030 – and gives new insight about where drone industry growth will be fastest, by region and by application

As DRONEII’s Ed Alvarado writes, “As autumn begins and the foliage changes, it’s time for a new edition of our flagship drone market analysis. The new Drone Market Report 2022 features the latest business intelligence of the drone market with all sectors (hardware, software, services), 17 industry verticals, in-depth look at top 10 country markets by market size, breakdowns by region, country, commercial vs recreational, unit sales, and much more.”

According to DRONEII’s Drone Market Report, the global drone market is worth an estimated US$30.6 billion in 2022.  It’s a stunning number  – but one poised for steady growth.  DRONEII forecasts that the commercial drone market will experience a CAGR (Compound Annual Growth Rate) of 8.3% until 2030.  “Overall, our drone market analysis shows that the market as a whole (commercial + recreational) will be worth US$55.8 billion by the year 2030,” writes Alvarado.

Drone Industry Growth by Region

Where will drone industry growth be strongest?  According to DRONEII’s research, Asia is the fastest growing market, with Europe and North America close behind.  DRONEII points out that the expanded time frame – until 2030 – allows for new regulations like flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and remote ID to be enacted, and drone industry applications to scale accordingly.

drone market analysis 2022-2030

Originally published: September 2022

This general growth picture, however, may not give the entire story.  This year, DRONEII looked at even more countries – gathering specific data points about the market today in order to project accurately.  The report points out, for example, that the fastest growth of commercial drone new unit sales is in the Middle East and Africa – and some market segments and applications are growing at a faster rate than others.

In terms of tracking a moving target, the drone market report paints a picture of the overall global market by focusing on each smaller component and threading them together into a broader view (our bottom-up approach). This broader view is the first thing presented in the report (i.e. total drone market), and each subsequent chapter digs deeper and deeper into various segments of the market. From hardware market size per region, to forecasting market size of drones used in construction per country, or analyzing unit sales of commercial units in China, our drone market analysis crafts a comprehensive view of the market in all its aspects for the next 8 years.

Read more from DRONEII:
DRONEII’s Drone Industry Barometer 2022 is Out: Why Most Companies Use Drones

DRONEII’s Kay Wackwitz: 3 Observations on the 2022 Drone Industry

How are Drones Used on Jobsites? From DRONEII : These are the Top Commercial Applications

Drone Regulation Progress: DRONEII’s EU and US Regulation Timeline, from 2016 to the Future

Top Drone Manufacturers: DRONEII Releases Report

Benefits of Drone Surveying (Explained for Beginners)

According to Drone Industry Insights, a leading research and analytics company in the drone industry, mapping, and surveying are the most common uses for drones.

So what are the benefits of drone surveying?

Drone surveying helps save time and money and improves work quality and safety. Since it was adopted in surveying, its usage and importance have kept growing, and so has the drone surveying market.

Please keep reading to learn more about how essential drone surveying is and how to get started.

Benefits of Drone Surveying

Last year, Drone Industry Insights published its Drone Industry Barometer 2021, a whitepaper that shows why various businesses are using drones.

Four main reasons stood out, as shown in the graph below.

Image Credit:

These are the main industries that reported drones benefitting their workflow.

As you can see, mapping and surveying came in second this time, but still occupy a considerable percentage of drone usage globally.

With regards to drone surveying, let’s discuss each of the benefits mentioned above in detail.

Saving Money

Drone surveying has reduced the costs of doing a land survey in the following ways.

  • Reduced need for manned surveys: To survey acres of land would take weeks, not to mention it would require several surveyors and additional costs for accommodation and transport.

    You can do the same job with a drone in a few hours, reducing the staffing you will need and any other costs associated with ground surveying.

    The software used for drone surveying is also cheaper, easier to use, and more automated.

  • Aerial surveys: Traditionally, aerial surveys were done using airplanes, which are pretty expensive to operate. The planes need a pilot, payloads that weigh up to 100 kilograms, and clearance to fly over an area.

    If there are any errors, you’d have to redo the survey, making the whole process too complex. Drones will need a pilot but they will be on the ground.

    Further, there are fewer clearances needed to fly a drone, and drones and their payloads are way cheaper than airplanes.

  • Real-time data: While airplanes could cover vast tracts of land, the data may not always be relayed in real-time, delaying projects or limiting when and how you can use the data.

    However, drones can transmit the data in real-time, making it easier to show stakeholders data without transporting them to the site.

    I recall a project where we had to livestream on a drone as we filmed an ongoing construction project for the board members who were in a meeting.

Improve Work Safety

Safety is another reason why many businesses have resorted to using drones.

As mentioned earlier, airplanes need a pilot in the vehicle, but with drones, you can control them remotely.

Secondly, in the event a plane crashes, it will cause more damage to those onboard and those around where it crashed.

Drone crashes can be fatal too, but not as fatal as plane crashes, and you can mitigate these crashes with parachutes and other safety mechanisms.

Ability to Reach Inaccessible Areas

Another way drones improve work safety is by accessing areas that would be difficult and unsafe for people to reach.

These areas include rugged terrains, quarries, etc.

Since you will fly very close to the ground with a drone, you can still get accurate data.

Besides navigating unsafe areas, drones also make it easier to map overpopulated areas where surveying manually from the ground would be pretty tricky and time-consuming.

Saving Time

As mentioned earlier, drones save a lot of time since you can quickly get them into the air, collect data, and land them within a few minutes. This makes them better for surveying larger areas of land compared to land surveying manually.

Another way that drones save time is through the automation of data processing.

Software like Pix4D or DroneDeploy allows you to input flight plans where the drone will automatically fly on its own.

Once it’s complete, you export the data, enter some inputs, and the software will process and give back usable outputs.

Better Quality and Accuracy

One of the main reasons drone surveys are essential and accurate is their ability to take images with a spatial phenomenon (coordinates and elevation), which is the core of surveying.

Also, drone surveying can be pretty accurate thanks to the miniaturization of various technologies.

For starters, a good drone’s camera can shoot in up to 5.2K or even 8K. This allows you to get even better detail on an image than on a satellite or aerial image from an airplane.

Due to the accessibility of drones, you can get the latest image of a region without much hassle. This is handy since areas change often, and you may not always get the latest satellite image.

Another reason why drones are more accurate is the ability to carry sensors like RTKs, PPKs, LiDAR, thermal cameras, infrared cameras, and multi-spectral sensors, all of which give more data than a standard camera could.

Besides, most drone mapping software allows you to add Ground Control Points (GCPs), which help you increase the accuracy of the data collected.

To see how it works and how to get the various outputs, check out our article on using drones for land surveying.

Which Tools Are Used For Drone Surveying?

Below are the main components of a drone survey, including the tools required for the job.

The Drone

Any drone that can take high-quality images with a spatial reference can be used for land surveying.

However, there are drones explicitly designed for this type of work, such as the Phantom 4 RTK, DJI Matrice 300, DJI T30, and Wingtra fixed-wing drones.

There are two main types of drones used for surveying:

  1. Multi-rotor: These drones often have four, six, or eight propellers. They are the easiest to fly, carry some payload, and don’t require a runway.

    However, these types of drones are limited in the payload they can carry, and their batteries don’t last that long (30 to 60 minutes).

  1. Fixed-wing: These are the best drones for surveying larger areas since they have longer endurance and can carry payloads of up to 5 kilograms.

    Some of them can be gas-powered and are overall equipped for BVLOS (Beyond Line Of Sight Operations). Unlike the multi-rotors, fixed-wing drones can be quite expensive.


The survey on drones I mentioned earlier often has built-in GPS, RTK or PPK, and a wide range of other sensors.

They also have an additional payload capacity where you can attach any third-party equipment that’s either not included with the drone or works better than the one on the drone.


Data collection, processing, and presentation are done using dedicated software such as DroneDeploy, Pix4D, ArcGIS, and AutoCAD.

DroneDeploy and Pix4D are automated in the sense that they can identify which drone you’re using, import its parameters, and even control it automatically when you set waypoints.

On the other hand, ArcGIS and AutoCAD are geographic information and land surveying software, respectively, allowing you to manipulate and present the data you get from DroneDeploy and Pix4D further.

Where Is Drone Surveying Important?

Below are the various use cases where drone surveying is applicable and highly valuable.

Land Surveying

This is the most common use for drone surveying.

Drones produce high-quality imagery, which can then be used to update maps and create cadastral maps, orthomosaics, and 3D models.

Orthomosaics and photos come in handy when measuring distances since they are quite accurate.

Land Development

Once you generate the various outputs mentioned above, you can use them in land management and development.

For instance, you can use such data to identify the best use for the available land, slope management, and even planning for utilities like drainage.

These surveys can also help archeologists find the best place to start excavating without spending too much time or money on expensive equipment.

Urban Planning

Urban areas develop really fast, making it impossible to rely on satellite imagery.

Luckily, drone surveys can provide more recent data, allowing urban planners to assess the effects of a project and find better ways to utilize the available land without straining it or the residents.

Roof Surveying

Whether for an insurance claim or assessing damage after a hurricane, a drone survey provides an easy way to access the roof and slowly analyze it without going up there yourself.

Construction Monitoring

Drone surveys give you an aerial view of ongoing construction, allowing you to monitor the progress.

Aerial views at different angles provide 3D models that allow you to perform stockpile calculations and measurements, which are essential to construction monitoring, especially in dams, quarries, and mines.

Since they are often done on the ground, working around the stockpile may have to be stopped for a while. But with drones, you can take this measurement from above as the work continues.

A client can also easily take these measurements independently to confirm if the contractors’ numbers are accurate.

Time-lapse images of a construction project can also be fascinating.

How Accurate is a Drone Survey?

Drone surveys can be as accurate as +- 1 CM.

This may not be as accurate as a Total Station, which can be as accurate as +- 3 millimeters, but you can correct this with GCPs.

However, the accuracy also depends on the flying altitude, the camera, the drone type, and the landscape’s nature.

Will Drones Replace Land Surveyors?

Not really. Drones are invaluable mapping tools, but they can’t work on their own.

Land surveying is a more complex profession that takes time (both in school and in the field) to learn, and you even need a license to practice it fully.

While drones don’t replace land surveyors, they make their work easier.

Surveyors don’t have to spend days surveying land; they can take a few hours and get all the data they need.

Drones also make it easier and faster to produce outputs like mosaics, DTMs, and DSMs for use, but they can’t replace a land surveyor since the software needs a trained surveyor to know what inputs to use to get the desired output.

The outputs you get from data also need a trained land surveyor to interpret them.


Drones are one of the best things that have happened to the aerial surveying industry in the past two decades.

They are accessible, easy to use, relatively accurate, and cut down the time and costs needed to do an aerial survey by almost half. In the future, we can hope to see more drone use cases in this industry and many other industries.

Drone Industry Insights (link)

Axle Box Innovations uses Essentium AM platform for 3D Printed fire-fighting drones - sUAS News - The Business of Drones
The 2022 small Unmanned Systems Business Journal – sUAS News – The Business of Drones

These articles are insights written by industry professionals in the trenches of this growing industry. Desert Rotor’s Debin Ray writes about how Design Methodology, Operational Agility, Crew Flexibility, and Financial Strategy helped their world-leading GSC company weather the Global Supply Chain storm.

DroneHive gives us their take on pilot training. More training is probably not a bad idea for folks who plan to stay in this business. Sky Drones discusses equipment, flight control, and planning.

SkyeBrowse writes about emergency response applications for their videogrammetry software.

Douglas Marshall gives us insight into the trials and tribulations of applying for drone waivers and exemptions. He is an old hand at the NAS integration rodeo, and his article, Not What You Said 5 Years Ago, is worth a read as it may save you some grief in the future.

Peter van Blyenburgh gives us some perspective from the EU with a story about the Working Group 2205-1 on Training, Qualification & Examination of Remote Pilots, Instructors & Examiners in the EU “Specific” Operational Category.

I give a history dissertation regarding the twenty-year airspace integration effort. Full drone NAS integration was supposed to happen in September of 2015. Yes, that would include BVLOS (not EVLOS with a VO), sans waivers, and exemptions. It is an unmitigated disaster that has people frustrated. Many at the FAA like to discount my concerns as the rantings of an unhappy internet troll. I say nice try, but the wonky policy/subpar rules are not mine. Plenty of solutions have been discussed but have only fallen on deaf ears.

We would like to thank our sponsors, Desert Rotor, Galaxy Unmanned Systems LLC, DroneHive, and Sky-Drones, for supporting the effort and enabling you to download your free copy today

Skywatch Drone Insurance on Top Industry Trends – and Drone Bonks, Dips, and Disappearances
Skywatch Drone Insurance on Top Industry Trends – and Drone Bonks, Dips, and Disappearances
Skywatch drone insurance

Alexander Glinz, CC BY-SA 3.0

Data-Driven Risk Management Insights – SkyWatch Drone Insurance Top 3 Trend Lists

By: Dawn Zoldi

As the saying goes, An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This concept applies to drone operations today.

Continue reading below or listen:

Best safety and risk management practices can mitigate liability exposure. As the industry matures, and operations become more complex, now more than ever, drone insurance should factor heavily in business decisions. In this article, Elad Shalev, Marketing Manager at SkyWatch.AI, drone industry insurance leaders, provides insights into the top three industry and accident trends, as well as tips to help drone businesses soar.

Company Background

Founded in 2018, SkyWatch.AI was one of the first companies to use technology, analytics and telematics to better assess the risks of drone operations. That data ultimately informed a range of plans to reduce risk for drone operators globally. It also translated into more reasonable, affordable and flexible insurance options.

SkyWatch.AI made drone insurance simple. With regard to customer interface, it developed a digital platform for individual drone pilots and businesses to customize and purchase policies according to needs, with just a few clicks. On the back end, it created a top-rated team to address customer service needs.

Industry Trends 

Over the past few years, the COVID-19 pandemic propelled the drone industry in unanticipated ways. Drones became the ultimate social distancer. Across the globe, approvals for drone deliveries for items such as medicine and food became more common. Businesses grew their drone fleets from a handful of aircraft to large in-house fleets. As the drone industry matured, SkyWatch.AI data revealed three significant industry shifts.

Sophisticated Equipment

Over the past few years, drone pilots have invested more money in their equipment to achieve better quality results for their clients. Beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations rely on heavily autonomous systems. Industrial inspections require high fidelity sensors. These are but a few examples of the types of the high tech capabilities and equipment needed for complex drone operations.

More advanced equipment costs more to buy. SkyWatch.AI data shows that since 2018, the average value of an insured drone has increased more than thirty percent. Shalev, who works with partners and creates value for the community through educational content, explained, The drones people are insuring used to be worth a little less than three thousand dollars. In 2022, they are generally worth a little over four thousand. This tells us that drone pilots today have more expensive and sophisticated drones.”

Increased Professionalism

In the United States and most places globally, laws do not require pilots to carry drone insurance. However, as drone pilots use more expensive equipment to perform advanced operations, they increasingly desire to protect their investments.

SkyWatch.AI data indicates that the percentage of drone operators who have insured their own drone, referred to as  hull damage” coverage, has risen annually. This year, hull damage accounts for more than a third of the coverage purchased by drone operators.

What can we learn from that? According to Shalev, In the past, people purchased drone insurance only because clients and customers required them to have it. The fact that today more than a third choose to insure themselves, even when they don’t have to, indicates a few things. It shows us not only that the industry is maturing, but also that pilots have a higher appreciation for their gear and for the importance of insurance.” In short, drone operators have become more professional.

 Greater Protection

Drone pilotsinvestment in insurance has matched their growing appreciation of risk mitigation. Pilots have been purchasing higher levels of coverage.

Another interesting fact is that even though we didn’t change our insurance prices, the average monthly payment that people choose to invest in their drone insurance has increased every year,” Shalev noted.

SkyWatch.AI tracked a pivot from an average of $31 a month in coverage in 2018 to more than $100 a month in 2022.

Shalev surmises that because pilots now perform more complex operations than ever before, their needs dictate broader coverage, higher limits and tailored requirements.

So to sum it all up, drone operators today are more sophisticated, with better equipment and do more complex operations. They also understand the importance of insurance. Our industry is definitely growing and maturing,” Shalev said.

Statistically speaking, more drones in the air increases the likelihood of mishaps. More complex operations also equate to higher risks. Shalev, who is also a certified Isreali lawyer, warns that risk factors can double, depending on the number of drones a pilot or business employs and the type of operations involved. That said, to provide context, drone accidents are not common. Shalev said that only about 10% of policy holders file accident claims.

 But even a few accidents can have strategic impacts for the industry. Even one negative media report can sway public perception, which continues to be a challenge for drone operations. SkyWatch.AI data revealed the following three types of accident and incident trends, which bear watching.

Drone Bonks

Of the few accidents reported, the most common, according to claims filed, involved a drone crashing into something, such as trees, walls and cars. The most common contributing factor for these crashes is a loss of signal.

Shalev mused, Drone delivery operations involve flying to different destinations and returning, sometimes in urban environments. These will involve more risk. We saw claims involving delivery drones that crashed into some unexpected things like windows, birds and even a squirrel. That being said, with the right measures, drone deliveries have generally proven to be safe and very efficient.”

Drone Dips

SkyWatch.AI also received a number of claims involving drones that took a dip in the water. Oceans, lakes, pools, and other bodies of water ranked high on the list of drone dips.

The company culled out several reasons for this. Sometimes the drone sensor confuses the water with the sky and the drone flies into it. In other cases, the drone has climbed up to the sky (thinking” it is landing) until it loses signal. Flying over water, especially open sea, exposes drones to extreme weather conditions, which can lead to accidents. Finally, it is harder to assess distances when flying over the water. This can lead to flying too far and losing signal.

Missing Drones

Many claims involved a drone that has simply disappeared. This can occur during BVLOS flight when a pilot losessignal because the drone either flew too far away or into areas with bad reception. Thefts also account for equipment losses. The majority of these cases involve car break-ins, where a drone left visible in a car presents a target of opportunity for thieves. SkyWatch.AI insurance can cover such claims.

 Top Tips

Despite these drone gaffs, generally speaking, accidents remain the exception to the rule. To avoid becoming a statistic, SkyWatch.AI offers the following tips to incorporate into operational best practices.

Watch the Weather

Weather can prove to be unpredictable and highly problematic for drone operations. A quarter of all accidents involve a weather component in one way or another. Failing to check the weather before take off has factored into some of these mishaps.

Incorporating proper and accurate weather checks, not only before take-off, but throughout operations, can help prevent problems.

Shalev advised, A relatively simple but important check includes taking the time to assess whether or not visibility is consistent throughout the expected range of operation. Clouds, fog, and other environmental factors can appear quickly and significantly disrupt operations if they are not anticipated.”  One of the first weather-related claims SkyWatch.AI ever received involved a pilot that flew his drone directly into a windmill due to fog.

Precipitation can also wreak havoc on drone systems, causing structural damage and frying electronics. Assessing precipitation levels enables pilots to make more informed predictions about the most likely conditions for that day. It allows pilots to be prepared to mitigate operational fault and error.

Weather checks also should include a review as to whether or not conditions will remain suitable for the capabilities of ones drone and the complexity of the operation to be performed. A small drone flying in high winds can spell disaster.

Check Equipment

Any weather review should involve an equipment check. High winds, extreme cold or heat can impact battery performance. Independent of environmental conditions, pilots should always check equipment.

Always make sure all batteries, for both the drone and the controller, are charged. Inspect all drone and equipment components and replace parts accordingly,” said Shalev.

A classic avoidable incident SkyWatch.AI sees too often involves crashes that occurred due to defective propellers. It takes only a few minutes to review ones drone and gear to prevent these kinds of mishaps. 

Know Your Limits

The good news is that many drone operators purchase insurance to protect their operations. The bad news is that sometimes they dont understand what coverage they actually have.

It is crucial to make sure before you start your operation, you know two things about your drone insurance,” explained Shalev. The first is that your insurance meets all employer or customer requirements, in terms of both amount and unique needs. The second is that your insurance covers your own needs like self-damage coverage for your drone and equipment.”

As noted above, Skywatch offers hull coverage. This does not protect third parties. It insures ones drones and equipment.

SkyWatch also offers third party aviation liability. This includes property damage, bodily injury, and personal injury to others. Bodily injury refers to medical expenses and physical accidents. Personal injury refers to coverage for libel, slander, or invasion of privacy.

Often, damage caused by any type of aircraft, including drones, may be excluded from business or homeowners general liability policies. Even when drone operations are included in these policies, or any other insurance plan, it may not cover commercial use. An aviation policy can either supplement other coverages or provide independent coverage.

Should you experience any accident, SkyWatch.AI policies are primary. This means we will pay the policyholders claim first before another plan needs to kick in,” said Shalev.

Drone pilots that operate professionally should carry third party drone liability. In closing, Shalev said, If anything were to happen, make sure everyone around you is protected. Let us help you fly with peace of mind.”

Read more about Skywatch.AI:

Dawn M.K. Zoldi (Colonel, USAF, Retired) is a licensed attorney with 28 years of combined active duty military and federal civil service to the Department of the Air Force. She is an intIernationally recognized expert on unmanned aircraft system law and policy, a columnist for several magazines,recipient of the Woman to Watch in UAS (Leadership) Award 2019, President and CEO of UAS Colorado and the CEO of P3 Tech Consulting LLC. For more information, visit her website at:

r/drones - Weekly /r/drones recommendation and discussion thread
Drone Industry Insights Barometer Survey: Give Your Input Now

drone industry insights barometerThe Drone Industry Insights Barometer survey is now open for your input. DRONEII’s global Drone Industry Barometer report is one of the best measures of the state of the industry.

This year, the survey is hosted on Mailchimp. With this unique link, anyone can forward the newsletter directly or even share the link on social media.

“As you probably know, every year we run a brief survey for drone companies all across the globe. We ask simple yet important questions such as how they have been performing, what activities they have been involved in, what their primary markets and perspectives on the future are, and much more. This results in our yearly Drone Industry Barometer, and all survey participants receive a free copy of the final report directly to their mailbox,” says Drone Industry Insights.

“Last year, we expanded our reach by translating the survey into a few languages, and this year, we are facilitating global participation even more. We have now translated the survey into Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, French and Portuguese. This selection of languages opens the door for more participation from the biggest regional market (Eastern Asia) as well as huge geographic regions (the entire American continent, and parts of Africa).”

Participate in the Survey: Get a Chance to Win a Skydio 2!

All participants who complete the survey receive:

  • A free copy of the final Drone Industry Barometer 2022 Report
  • A free ticket to Interaerial Solutions from INTERGEO (18-20 Oct 2022)
  • A chance to win one of 5 free Delegate tickets to Amsterdam Drone Week 2023
  • A chance to win a Skydio 2 drone!

The survey is only 17-29 brief questions (depending on your industry vertical), so it takes around 15-20 minutes to complete. If you are a drone industry professional and you’d like to participate, you can fill out the survey through one of the links below.

Instructions and all links together here:

Read more from Drone Industry Insights: