According to a new research report by the market research and strategy consulting firm, Global Market Insights, Inc, the aerial imaging market to reach USD 4 billion by 2024. The aerial imaging market growth is attributed to the rising adoption of drones for aerial photography applications.
There has been an exponential increase in the use of UAVs for aerial photography applications over the past decade due to the key cost-benefits that they offer over traditional imaging platforms such as helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft-mounted camera platforms. Drones offer excellent maneuverability in congested urban areas where large aircraft cannot venture for capturing aerial images. This capability of drones is majorly leveraged by the real-estate sector for capturing aerial photographs of construction projects in urban areas.
There has been a significant increase in the incidents of natural disasters over the past four decades. According to the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (CRED), the Emergency Events Database (EM-DAT) reports that the frequency of natural disasters has increased nearly three-fold from over 1,300 events in 1975–1984 to over 3,900 in 2005–2014. Aerial imaging largely facilitates the timely assessment of affected areas and assists in quickly expediting appropriate repair and relief operations.
The UAV/drone platform held a major market share of around 71% in 2017 due to its rapidly growing adoption of the platform for aerial imaging in a diverse set of sectors including government, construction, oil & gas, military & defense, and agriculture. UAVs prove to be a cost-effective alternative to helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft for aerial imaging, which enables their adoption for small-scale and low-budget imaging applications.
There has been a significant decline in the usage of traditional aerial photography platforms, such as parachutes, balloons, kites, and vehicle-mounted poles, due to the advent of drone technology that serves as a reliable alternative for capturing aerial images in varying climatic conditions.
The vertical imaging segment held the majority share of the aerial imaging market in 2017 due to the major utility of the imaging practice in geospatial mapping applications. As vertical aerial images provide useful data for preparing precise digital models of terrains, they are widely used for mapping functions by government institutions.
Oblique imaging segment is expected to exhibit accelerated growth over the forecast timeline with a CAGR of over 15%. This excellent growth is attributed to the benefits of better determination of feature elevations and coverage of more ground area compared to vertical imaging taken from the same altitude with the same focal length.
The geospatial mapping segment dominated the aerial mapping market in 2017 due to the extensive applications of different aerial imaging modalities in geospatial mapping functions. Aerial images are utilized for photogrammetric mapping services that use remote sensing technologies and photogrammetry to produce geospatial mapping deliverables.
The urban planning segment is projected to register the fastest growth of over 17% between 2018 and 2024 due to the increasing adoption of aerial photography by government institutions for improving road planning, real estate management, and land use calculations. As aerial images provide city planners with regular up-to-date information on traffic patterns, buildings, railroads, bridges, water features, and other urban infrastructure components, their utility for urban planning is expected to grow significantly over the forecast period.
The military & defense market is expected to exhibit the fastest growth between 2018 and 2024 with a CAGR of over 15%. This high growth is attributed to the large-scale adoption of aerial imaging platforms in the defense sector for applications such as mission simulation, mission planning, and air defense planning. Aerial images are also used for mapping applications, wherein the maps are used for planning military operations and enabling ground-based combat troops to find their way.
North America is projected to account for the majority market share of around 42% by 2024 due to large-scale investments in aeial imaging technologies by major market players such as Google and government institutions such as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the U.S. Due to the rapid adoption of UAVs for imaging applications in the agriculture sector in the U.S., the region is expected to witness a steady growth between 2018 and 2024.
The companies operating in the aerial imaging market are focusing on offering affordable imaging services to the customers as well as forging strategic partnerships with leading market players to extend their portfolio of aerial photography services and enhance their technological expertise.
For instance, in October 2017, Agribotix, one of the leading providers of drone-data processing solutions extended its partnership with The Climate Corporation, a subsidiary of Monsanto Company, to offer aerial imagery technology to the farmers in Brazil through solutions such as the Climate FieldView and Agribotix’s FarmLens platform.
In another instance, in May 2018, DJI, a leading global manufacturer of consumer and commercial drones, entered into a strategic partnership with Microsoft to bring advanced machine learning and AI capabilities to DJI drones.
DJI also selected Microsoft’s Azure as a preferred cloud computing platform to leverage the platform’s machine learning and AI capabilities to process large volumes of aerial imagery into actionable insights for its customers.
Some of the key players operating in the aerial imaging market are Eagle View Technologies, Digital Aerial Solutions, Cooper Aerial Surveys, Kucera International, Google, Fugro EarthData, Nearmap, DJI, 3D Robotics, Airobotics, DroneDeploy, PrecisionHawk, Getmapping, and GeoVantage.
If you’re a recently qualified drone pilot, or if you have ambitions to become one, or if you’re just interested in UAV related careers then read this post to the end and it will give you some idea of current job prospects and career development opportunities.
I’ll touch briefly at current drone pilot jobs, related careers, and the salaries on offer.
I’ve made several videos that describe aspects of running your own UAV based business so if you’re interested in self-employment then check out my channel and playlists: https://www.youtube.com/c/BenLovegrove
So let’s get started.
We are now in the Drone Age and hardly a week goes by without some announcement of new developments in UAV technology. As with all technological advances there is a need for skilled personnel to fill vacancies created by the expansion.
With a little planning and the right training drone pilots and others can look forward to varied and rewarding careers within an exciting industry.
As anyone who has taken the first steps into the world of unmanned aviation knows, drones can be put to all kinds of uses.
There is the obvious task of aerial photography and cinematography, and there’s also mapping, modelling, inspections, and thermal imagery to name a few.
Check out my video “What Are Drones Used For? 31 Uses For Flying Drones and UAV” for more examples. In the comments section underneath the video people have suggested even more uses. Drone Related Careers
There’s more to the Drone Age than just piloting drones.
Drone related careers include those who design, build, customise, and maintain UAV of all shapes and sizes.
Engineers might specialise in the airframes, working with new materials that provide extra strength & improved aerodynamics, along with 3D printing.
While we’re on the subject of engineers it’s worth also mentioning the crossover between unmanned and manned aviation.
Who will design the most successful unmanned aircraft capable of carrying passengers?
Or will it be aerospace engineers who began designing conventional manned aircraft and migrated into unmanned aircraft.
There are software engineers who develop the operating systems and apps in both the UAV itself and its controller, or who specialise in AI and FPV.
Software developers are also required to solve the problem of how to track drones and how to maintain separation between them and other aircraft types.
There are the manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers who keep the industry supplied with hardware and spares.
There are the training companies who, with the approval of their national aviation authority, train pilots to fly remotely piloted aircraft to a minimum standard of competence.
And we should also mention those who promote the industry by creating trade associations and networks providing marketing, mentoring, and support.
Companies like Drone Major Group, the world’s first global commercial organisation for the drone industry. Use this link to register for a free account either as a supplier of UAV related services or as a drone pilot.
By registering for an account (with optional upgrades and additional privileges) you can use the site to network with others and to make valuable contacts in your chosen field.
These and other similar regional trade associations like ARPAS-UK (Association of Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems UK) require support staff skilled in administration, PR, marketing, and event management.
As with any other industry, drone pilot salaries are commensurate with skills and experience and there is likely to be a wide variation in pay.
Recently qualified pilots with fresh certificates that allow them to fly, for example, a DJI Inspire for commercial purposes can expect starting salaries in the region of £25,000 GBP ($34,000 USD, $44,000 AUD) at the time of writing (Summer, 2018). On the other hand, ex-military UAV Operators with years of experience operating large and medium sized UAV might earn three times that amount.
As with many industries the high earners are those who are a specialists with rare skills and who provide high productivity and flexibility.
For drone pilots this might mean not only having the right technical skills but also being willing to operate UAV whenever the light and weather allows.
That is likely to be from early in the morning to late in the evening in summer months, and on weekends when weekday flying is cancelled due to adverse weather.
Drone Engineers who design, build, program, and test new drones could earn much more than pilots.
Salaries in excess of $100,000 USD have been quoted but I’ve been unable to verify them.
Perhaps if you have inside information on salary levels you could add a comment below this video.
Just like the IT industry, salaries within the drone industry are hard to pin down as there are many variables. Aside from the candidate’s skills and experience there is the size and profitability of the company itself.
A startup drone company might offer lower salaries with share options. If it becomes a success then this could be worth far more than a higher starting salary with no share options. Wherever you fit into the Drone Age I wish you well with your career.
Thanks for reading. I hope you found this post of interest. Please like and share the post with those who might also be curious.
To compliment our earlier post about drone training in the UK here is the second in this series about careers and employment – Drone Training USA.
Making a living by flying drones is becoming a more and more widespread career trajectory for many. This is due to a massive technological boom in the UAS (Unmanned Aerial Systems) market. The digital age has shepherded in a new era where jobs in the tech field are developing by leaps and bounds. The starting salaries are pretty enticing with many jobs starting between $45,000 to $65,000 per year.
Training to become a commercial drone pilot is appealing due to the versatile nature of the certification. You won’t be stuck with a useless degree in a field with no jobs and a large amount of student debt after your training, either. Drone training is open to anyone who wants to learn a new and useful skill that will get you somewhere in today’s job market. The typical drone certification course costs around $4,000, whereas tuition at a traditional college averages out to be nearly $27,000 annually in 2017.
Certain people are typically drawn to seek out drone pilot training. Some of these groups include experienced quadcopter hobbyists wanting to transition into being paid for their skills, former military personnel looking for a civilian career, and even photographers interested in growing their business by offering aerial photography. People seeking a new career in a growing market are also flocking to take certification courses.
If you’re bored in your current career, or even need your first career, and have been wanting a major change, then this could very well be the right path for you. Not everyone is suited for office or retail life. Being able to enjoy the outdoors, travel (depending on your job), and gather stunning images and information from a fresh point of view are all major factors in drawing new pilots into this field.
There are a lot of new careers being created thanks to drone technology in fields with dangerous and dirty jobs that not a lot of people want to do. Drones reduce the risk of personal danger when performing many of these jobs. Surveying natural disaster sites and aiding law enforcement are examples of how drones can impact the safety of a job.
Archaeology is another interesting field that has greatly benefitted from the use of drones. Drones aid archaeologists in surveying new sites of interest and help them better prepare their team for the dig. They save money and have unprecedented access to areas previously thought unreachable by any means other than expensive fly-overs and dangerous hikes.
Surveying using LIDAR, map making and photogrammetry are fields that have benefitted greatly from UAV pilots. Drones have contributed to the advancement of new photographic techniques in order to create a detailed view of the landscape.
The YouTube community has made a new market for drone use as well. Some very well-known YouTubers have utilized drone technology to make their productions pop and views increase. You don’t have to be a YouTuber to enjoy and profit off of videographer skills, though. Drone wedding photography is becoming increasingly popular as you can get some pretty cool shots of the big day that way. The sky is literally the limit with videography.
Due to well-placed regulations by the FAA you must become certified before becoming a professional by taking a drone training course. There are actually many of these available online, but you may need to be willing to go to an on-site campus for part of the course so you can get hands-on training. UVU, Unmanned Vehicle University, is one of many that offer a reputable program for prospective pilots. You must find a school accredited by the FAA.
Some of the things covered in the certification course at UVU are a history of drones, the physics of how they work, and how the controls work. You will also learn about weather principles in regards to flying drones. Most importantly you will gain experience and instruction from qualified instructors. They will teach you about safety and FAA regulations as well.
After the “written” part of the course, you will then be given the opportunity to fly a drone simulator. This is the next best thing to real life experience. In a simulation, you can’t really cause any damage, but it still feels real.
After passing the “written” and simulation sections of the course, you will then have your flying classes. These are the most important step. You can’t learn to fly a drone without flying a drone. As part of the course materials, you will build your drone from a kit.
In addition to certification courses, there are also supplemental classes you can take to enhance your skillset. Udemy has a plethora of courses at a low price of typically $10 per class. You can focus on certain specializations like videography and photography, and even how to start your own business using your drone pilot training.
With the right education and training, you will be well on your way to becoming a successful professional drone pilot in the field of your choosing. When choosing a school, please do your research. It is essential that the program you choose is backed by the FAA and follows all of their rules.
Know Your Regulations and Laws
The FAA, Federal Aviation Administration, has strict guidelines you must follow if you’re to become a drone pilot, but especially a professional being paid for your services. These rules and regulations are essential in keeping others and your equipment safe.
There are variations in the rules between flying your drone as a hobby and flying or pay. A drone hobbyist doesn’t need to have a pilot’s certification, whereas the professional pilot does. Let’s discuss some of these rules that you must follow, specifically the professional pilot rules, according to the FAA website. This is not an exhaustive list.
1. You must be a minimum of 16 years old. There is no minimum age requirement for drone hobbyists, but due to labor laws, one must be of a certain age before being paid for a service. Most jobs you can’t get until you’re at least 16.
2. Have the Remote Pilot Airman Certificate. This is where the course you took or are planning to take comes in.
3. You will need to pass TSA vetting. The TSA is the Transportation Security Administration. They’re the ones who control who can fly, even as a passenger on an airplane. They have to do the security checks for professional drone pilots so that the security of clients, companies, and the government aren’t threatened by someone with ulterior motives.
The professional drone pilot is one of the fastest growing career paths because there are so many directions you could go with it. As long as you do your research, pick a reputable certification program, and follow the rules then you can be well on your way to literally changing how we see and experience the world around us.