Welcome to AgEagle's Bird's Eye View, a new blog that we have created to give our talented team the opportunity to share our professional -- and sometimes personal -- opinions, insights and perspectives on the dynamics and new developments serving to define the markets we serve and the dominant role our Company intends to play in each of them as we advance our growth strategies.
Few can argue that unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) -- also referred to as drones -- are finding applications in a growing number of industry sectors, but did you know that they have actually been in use for over 100 years?
The military launched the very first drone, known as the Ruston Proctor Aerial Target, in 1917 -- just 16 years after the Wright Brothers pioneered their Kitty Hawk flight. This military drone was a radio-controlled pilot-less plane that was based on technology invented by Nikola Tesla, and originally intended to serve as a flying bomb. Despite promising demonstrations, the Aerial Target ultimately never made it to the battlefront, however it did pave the way for today's military drones.
While UAVs have indeed become a mission critical air power component for military forces in over 80 countries (the American armed forces alone operate a fleet of 11,000+), innovations in drone technologies are serving to materially elevate, expand and enhance applications that are transforming a broad range of industries, including climate change monitoring; aerial filming/photography; disaster relief delivery to hard-to-reach geographical regions; search and rescue missions; consumer package delivery services; and, of course, data collection for precision farming and sustainable agriculture purposes, just to name a few.
According to McKinsey & Company, the value of drone activity in the U.S. has risen from $40 million in 2012 to approximately $1 billion in 2017. By 2026, the firm estimates that commercial drones -- both corporate and consumer applications -- will have an annual impact of $31 billion to $46 billion on our country's GDP. With more than 300 start-ups entering the space since 2000, more than $3 billion in investment dollars have poured into the commercial UAV sector - with most of that going to original equipment manufacturers ($1.4 billion). McKinsey states, "As the market matures, more value will migrate to software, especially for turnkey solutions that improve UAV operations by enhancing detect-and-avoid systems, enabling analytics and assisting with navigation in areas where drones cannot rely on a GPS signal."
In an article published in Forbes in 2018, its author opines, "Drone technology may not be readily or widely available for a few more years. But it's coming -- and when it gets here, it will utterly transform society."
At AgEagle, we couldn't agree more.