There is no doubt that drones are continuously evolving to match the needs and preferences of growing businesses that are trying to incorporate them into their services. Today, considering the cost-saving and time efficiency, companies like Amazon have already started using drones to deliver packages.
Enterprises using drones may save them a huge amount of money at the end of the day but there are some pre-requisites in terms of rules & regulations that need to be met. Let’s take a deeper look into these challenges and discover how enterprises are planning to tackle them.
What Are Enterprise Drones?
To understand the challenges faced by enterprise drones, it is important that you are first aware of the purpose and basic concept surrounding them. Enterprise drones are usually heavy-duty drones that are used by businesses to shift and deliver packages. Since regular drones do not do the trick, these drones are loaded with all types of features.
As the industries realized the importance of drone technology, they began demanding solutions that were tailored to their needs and preferences. For instance, drones used by the delivery industry will be slightly different from the ones used by the agriculture industry. The solutions are just the beginning. The best drones for enterprise purposes have to figure out a way to match the rules & regulations set by the governments that vary for each country.
Challenges of Using Enterprise Drones
Drones Have Limited Flight Endurance and Payload Capacity
Today’s drones can fly upto a maximum of 15 to 30 minutes before the batteries need to be replaced. Even the best enterprise drones are able to carry a maximum of twenty pounds, five pounds or less. This means that the businesses first need a solution to increase both the payload capacity and flight endurance time.
The reason is that the heavier the weight carried by the drone, the less flight time you are going to get. There is an inverse relationship between the two factors. This means that if the drones were to be used for gas flares and inspecting the bridges etc. there are going to be interruptions and as a result, they cannot be considered for bigger jobs.
In an attempt to tackle this challenge, some drone manufacturers have come out with a clever way to autonomously charge their drones. When a specially-equipped drone touches down on a similarly-equipped landing pad, it begins charging wirelessly. This technology can help enterprises reduce frequent interruptions.
At the same time, drones should be designed to work in dangerous and dirty environments as well. This will allow them to perform tasks like repairs and installation rather than just inspecting. The good news is that some companies have introduced hybrid power systems in response that will help perform bigger jobs.
Competing Solutions Refuse to Die
While drones are gradually taking over the world but some things never change. Enterprises that have been following the old set of rules, will not simply shift to using drones without proper research, planning, and experiment. As a result, the old competing solutions have stood the test of time.
In many applications, enterprise drones might look promising but there are other alternatives as well. Drones can be used for precision agriculture but you also have tractor-based sensors and satellite imaging systems that offer the same functions.
If a drone detects that an area requires more fertilizer or pesticide, a plane will be required to perform the task, as the drone is not designed to carry them. In addition to that, several crops tend to be commodities that put farmers under pressure on spending as little on advanced technologies as possible.
Drones Fly locally but the Powers Rest in Washington DC
The Federal Aviation Administration has done a great job over the years of keeping air travel safe. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that the FAA retains the authority to regulate the use of top enterprise drones. However, when Congress passed the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2022, it gave FAA the charge to tackle the emerging drone industry.
This was not a good decision. The reason is that FAA is responsible for handling large commercial airplanes that cruise at high altitudes. Commercial drones are comparatively small and fly short distances. Additionally, the FAA functions to minimize and eliminate as much risk as possible.
This means that the drone industry will only succeed if it is willing to take additional risks. While large manned aircrafts require nationwide rules, commercial drones require flexibility. It does not make sense to apply the same regulations, as they simply do not compare.
Instead, Congress should pass legislation that allows local governments and states to communicate with the local businesses, users, and citizens and come to a consensus about when and where the benefits overtake the risks.
The Perfect Traffic Management System is Being Worked On
The drone industry is doing everything in its power to develop the perfect traffic management system. Only time can tell when we get to see the skies filled with drones. However, the problem is that if it takes somewhere around 20 years, the traffic management system developed today will become obsolete.
The primary reason is that the drone industry is investing too much time trying to integrate drones with the national airspace system. Instead, it makes more sense to keep both unmanned and manned air traffic separate. Since there is simply not enough drone traffic today, it does not make sense to come up with a complicated traffic management system.
Alternatively, what businesses need to do is to come up with simple and easy technical solutions that keep their drones away from large manned aircrafts. These aircraft are not aware of the exact locations of the drones. And since they are way smaller in size, they can easily hit the aircraft. This means that operators should be aware of the restricted areas.
You simply cannot argue that a thousand dollars worth of drone deserves the same air space as that of millions of dollars worth of aircraft, today. The cost of doing business as well as the profit is simply too big.
Concerns Amongst the Public About Privacy, Security, and Safety
When it comes to the public concerned about privacy, security, and safety, these factors should not be underestimated. No one wants drones peeking through their windows. People do allow the state to use drones for catching suspects but at the same time, spying on innocent citizens is not appropriate.
These days especially, everyone fears terrorists using drones to scout targets and deliver explosives. Several pilots have witnessed drones nearby taking off and interfering with helicopters during firefighting operations.
The local authorities can try geofencing, which does not allow the drones to fly where they should not be flying in the first place. And finally, perhaps the biggest concern of the public is safety. No one will want companies to use drones for deliveries if they are simply falling from the sky.
The only way to tackle this challenge is by not only making more reliable and safer drones but also agreeing on places where manufactures and operators can gain more experience.
Concluding, Enterprise drones face a lot of challenges today. However, that does not mean that we won’t ever get to see them hovering in the sky in the future. The key lies in coming up with technical and practical solutions that meet the demands of different industries while keeping in view the safety, privacy, and security concerns of the public. With the ever-increasing demand for drones, the world will hopefully be able to develop the perfect traffic management system in the coming years.