Drones predicted to bring British economy £42 billion
Increased use of drones, in sectors from construction or defence to energy or logistics, will employ hundreds of thousands of people and lift GDP by almost 2%, according to a report by PwC.
While pilots and police have often viewed drones as a problem, the report predicts 76,000 unmanned aerial vehicles will be in UK skies by the end of the next decade for commercial or public use, saving billions in efficiencies.
It says many existing jobs will go, with drones able to quickly map, inspect or transport in places that are difficult for people to reach. Drones are likely to replace posts from stock controllers to helicopter pilots as they allow speedier visual access of everything from giant warehouses to power lines.
Already used widely in utilities to inspect infrastructure, drones are likely to replace expensive helicopter use in land surveys, the report says, while oil rig inspections have become safer and cheaper using the devices. Remote crop spraying could extend in agriculture to drone monitoring with thermal cameras, to give more data on plant health and irrigation than is visible to the human eye.
PwC predicts cost savings of £16bn annually through their use and estimates that in the long run there will be 628,000 people working in the drone economy, potentially in more highly skilled jobs overall, including building and programming the devices. ■