7 Ways AI And Drones Are Opening Up A Billion Dollar Market

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Welcome to the world of Artificial Intelligence and drones! These can fit as welcoming words in almost any industry sector nowadays. It used to be that high-tech developments were the preserve of a selected few, only found in secluded environments such as Silicon Valley. This is no longer the case, as AI and drones are about to take over work humans do, and beyond. From driving, to building, to finance, accounting, agriculture - you name it, you’ll find AI and drones there.

Drones are doing it all. Across the board you’ll find surveillance cameras and aerial data happening courtesy of small sized drones which can perform specialized tasks. Security has not been left out - airport movement tracking is one of the highly automated security zones; then there’s construction, road maintenance, and the list goes on.

You no longer need to expose humans to dangerous sites. Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) will go where others fear to tread, capture data at any angle and compile a report for you to interpret as you like.

Companies once known for their mechanical prowess are now turning into AI companies. Take Tesla - we will no longer require a steering wheel in a car, or anyone sitting behind it. Skycatch is following suit, with drones that can analyze and understand their surroundings now available.

The CEO of Skycatch, Christian Sanz is utilizing his 20 years’ experience in software engineering and technical leadership to pioneer the aerial data space and help humans work faster, smarter and more accurately. The outcome of his visual intelligence has already helped many in the construction, agriculture and solar energy industries to accomplish massive projects.

Sanz is quick to point out that what people feared has now come to pass - that software will eat the world. But he adds a twist to it - AI will eat the software. To understand this better, read on to see how AI is impacting various multi-billion dollar opportunities.

Real Time Data

Historically, it could take several hours, or even months to obtain certain types of data, but AI has changed all that. Take the monitoring of a city traffic system, with a thousand cameras in use. Would you employ a thousand staff to watch them in real time? With AI all you need to do is simulate a human to look at the video receiving a feed from all the thousand cameras. The source for data could be beyond the video cameras; it could be from other surveillance devices, smart phones or the cloud; all available in real time.

Automated Capturing 

There are some physical structures which are complicated to analyze physically. Automated data capturing analyzes such structures and finds defects. For example, at AT & T, general infrastructure, cell towers, and wind turbines inspection are heading for automation. Automated UAVs achieve tasks without needing humans to climb to the roof of the cell tower, saving people from taking risks. These UAVs scan blades on turbines, and carry trained AI models which are used to detect defects and recommend maintenance, without needing manual methods like the telescope.

Shortening Construction

In construction sites, drones and AI trained models help accomplish many tasks more efficiently. They can detect objects and activities happening inside the building site, and automate processes while designing solutions. They can come up with the most efficient routes for materials in use, create daily deployment schedules for the workforce and machinery, detect changes in work processes and create valuable data for the allocation of better planning and resource allocation.

Sanz believes the use of drones and AI to have a multi-angle aerial inspection of the world is ‘groundbreaking’.

Machine Operations

AI enhances efficiency in machine operations. For instance, it can measure a driver or machine operator efficiency and from there, develop yardsticks for assessing effectiveness in the field. Other hired drivers are to be benchmarked using this model. It will produce every required detail on efficiency, no matter how delicate. For example, the hand movement of a driver can tell how efficient he’s going to be while completing tasks.

Komatsu is one of the companies benefitting from Skycatch AI technology, using it in its heavy duty equipment. Little experience is required to operate this equipment, because AI takes over most of the significant roles. This gives the personnel at Komatsu more time to focus on training the AI, while less experienced drivers operate the equipment. This is a competitive advantage to customers and an efficient utilization of resources.

AT & T will be making automated cell tower inspection a reality very soon. Art Pregler, AT&T’s Director of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), is optimistic that once this becomes a reality, it will transform how they carry out inspections by making it safer and more efficient. He praises the collaboration and the innovation of Skycatch, and can’t wait to see drones and AI taking over more tasks in his organization.

When do you think you can start embracing this kind of technology in your project? The time is now. There are experienced freelancers in AI and drones ready to take your project to a whole new technological level.


AI has not spared accounting either, and innovations have come in to provide solutions for balancing account books. According to Accenture, automation will comprise 80% of accounting and finance tasks in the next few years. You need not worry about your job though, because as long as you’re willing to move with the technology, what lies ahead is even more interesting. Cloud accounting is already in use, and tedious tasks like data entry and bookkeeping are no longer happening manually. 

Now is the time to move from accounting tools to accounting solutions. Moving accountancy to the cloud is just the beginning. There’s more to come, and finance professionals should be on the lookout. 

As an accountant, your work is to prepare for value-added analysis as automation takes over the more mundane areas of accounting. Your role is left to interpret data, and communicate the same to clients.

Pest Control

You may be wondering how as a pest control operator AI will apply to your industry and business. You could already be using it without knowing. For instance, route optimization - many pest companies are now using an automated route planning engine. Route optimization tools cut out most of the tedious and complex aspects of routing, so that employees can focus on making the best use of their time.

Some pest control companies are also using drones.  Inspect-All Services was the first to use drones in home inspections. According to Brian Lunsford, Co-owner and President of Inspect-All, they plan to increase the use of drones for home inspections in 2017, due to the many benefits associated with it. For example, they provide crystal-clear views of areas that could be difficult to reach, like roofs, or concealed entries high on the side of a house where wildlife may be getting access.


In parts of Contra Costa County, you can hear drones buzzing above State Route 4. In Pittsburg, a camera perched on the dashboard periodically snaps pictures of potholes as a driver maneuvers the streets. Another camera mounted at the corner of the street monitors pedestrians, cyclists, and cars near the school entrance. Each of these offers a different solution, but the ultimate goal for incorporating AI and drones in the county is to improve road construction and maintenance.

According to RoadBotics CEO Mark DeSantis, there have been remarkable investments in the use of high-tech solutions in the road construction and maintenance industry. “Millions of dollars are coming to this sector real quick,” says DeSantis.

Ivan Ramirez, the construction manager at the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, notes how the use of drones and AI has contributed in saving paperwork, time and money. He remembers how survey crews would stand on the edge of the freeway during construction, taking measurements of the earth each time it moved, which was hazardous and time-consuming.

Drone technology and AI has many other uses in road construction, transportation, and the maintenance industry and this is just the tip of the iceberg. The technology can work in many more tasks people haven’t yet thought of.

Feeding data into AI continues to make it get smarter, and in turn, humans are becoming smarter about AI as they open up to the world of technology. Soon we will be able to predict which traditional and nontraditional businesses will be fully remodeled by AI, going by how fast things are evolving.

It’s therefore advisable to start familiarizing yourself with AI and drones, so you are better prepared to face the future.

Posted 28 August, 2017


Software Developer

Lucy is the Development & Programming Correspondent for Freelancer.com. She is currently based in Sydney.

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