Drones, sometimes known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are not a new invention, but the general public has only begun noticing these sophisticated flying machines over the last decade or so. These days, we see kids flying hobby drones in the sky, data-collecting drones passing through clouds and houses with ‘No Drones’ hanging from fences.
Interestingly, drones have been around in one form or another for a long time. The first recorded use of a drone was in July 1849, when Austria attacked Venice using balloons full of explosives. Then pilot-less vehicles were developed and used in Britain and America during WW1, and in the many wars that followed.
Australia was one of the first countries to legislate commercial drone use in 2002. Across the world, government agencies were first to utilise UAV technologies, and then their use expanded to disaster relief and border surveillance. The corporations came next. Some grasped the potential benefits quickly, but it took another decade for the commercial drone industry to really take off.
Today, drones are used across a range of industries such as agriculture, mining, security, construction, real estate, conservation, education, arts and many others. Here, we take a look at how drones are shaping the powerful Australian sectors around us.
In the agricultural sector, drones are being used for a variety of tasks such as spraying fertilisers, aerial surveillance, crop monitoring, land inspection, mapping and inspecting for damaged crops and more. The use of drones, alongside agricultural machinery, provides farmers with an opportunity to reduce operation costs, improve crop capacity and increase yield rate.
Agriculture is one of the world’s biggest markets when it comes to commercial drone use, and the automation of some tasks is predicted to work hand-in-hand with traditional farming work. For example, farmers could use drones connected to weather stations and the drones would collect data for farmers to help them make better decisions as to when to pick or plant certain crops. The farmers would have the knowledge to use their agricultural assets at the most optimum times and be able to formulate more targeted farming strategies. Drones won’t replace tractors and sprayers, but drones will most likely be integrated into programs to enhance accuracy. In the long run, farmers might be able to expand work sites and look into new ways of developing and improving farming practices.
One of the best examples of drone use in agriculture is plant health monitoring. Farmers who use drones for this purpose overseas are able to better utilise their time and assets based on data collected by the drones, which in turn helps with achieving higher yields. In Australia, the global agricultural drone technology market is forecast to hit $8.4B in 2028, up from $1.9B in 2020. As it stands, there are many rules and regulations, but in time as technology improves, farming practices will become better defined, and the rules will move with the times.
While Pickles doesn’t currently sell drones, we do sell a range of agricultural equipment. Pickles Ag holds three monthly national online auctions dedicated to agricultural assets.
Oil & Gas
Drones are used in a variety of capacities in the oil and gas industry. Right now, they are predominantly used for remote monitoring and surveillance, which includes inspections of pipelines and difficult-to-access areas. Remote drones in the oil and gas sector can also be used to detect problems, such as gas leaks or pipeline ruptures, and assist with reporting elements. When it comes to hazardous activities, such as the inspection of power lines, drones can minimise risks, ensuring that security and safety in the industry are maintained and well monitored.
In the oil and gas sector, drones will continue to play an important role alongside assets, providing industry insiders with greater opportunities to work more efficiently and safely. An important development that drones may be able to assist with is helping oil and gas companies target methane reductions. Climate change and global warming are key topics worldwide, and oil and gas companies can lend their support by investing in drone technologies that can obtain key real-time data information. An example of this is Norway-based oil and gas company Equinor developing laser-based sensors to detect methane leaks.
Looking to buy or sell your oil and gas assets? See what is available on Pickles Oil & Gas, our global marketplace for buying and selling oil and gas equipment.
Drones in mining are used in a variety of ways. Mining sites can sometimes be hazardous, so drones can be used to assess sites, collect data, and even undertake activities such as blasting and extracting materials. Drones are used to survey sites, keep tabs on where materials are located, and assist with planning work such as terrain mapping. Data collection is key across all industries, and in the mining sector drones can help companies identify prime locations for digging work.
Drones can help improve operational efficiency, and consequently allow businesses to focus on expansion, quality, better record-keeping and planning, and moving business forward. Pickles Mining provides asset valuation and disposal services for the mining, construction, civil and industrial sectors, with regular auctions of a diverse range of mining assets.