How Drones Are Shaking Up Ranching and 6 Other Businesses

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If you’re wondering how much potential drones have to change the way businesses operate in the U.S., the sky literally may be the limit.

As they look for ways to save money and gain a competitive edge, more and more businesses are finding applications for the small flying devices. While they commonly are associated with military applications, there are plenty of ways civilians can use drones.

The following seven businesses have been changed by this evolving technology.

1. Ranching: saving time for cowhands

Cowboy on horse in sunset
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When they incorporate drones into their work, there’s no need for ranchers and their cowhands to scour the range looking for lost cattle. A drone can spot them more quickly so ranchers know exactly where they need to go. According to a report in Popular Mechanics, the use of drones is revolutionizing the ranching business. In addition to finding lost cattle, drones can watch for grass fires and spot invasive species before they can do major damage.

2. Agriculture: keeping a closer eye on crops

Nebraska farm.
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Farmers find drones to be highly useful for managing their crops. Drones can help farmers plan the proper use of water, pesticides and fertilizers. By photographing crops from above, farmers can monitor growth and quickly respond to problems — such as inadequate irrigation — that can reduce crop yield. While relatively new to farmers in the United States, the use of drones is more common in Japan, where they are used to track the progress of rice crops.

3. Real estate sales: a view from above

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Selling homes is a highly competitive business, and anything sellers can do to make properties more attractive gives them an edge over the competition. Real estate agents increasingly are using drones to capture images that give potential buyers a bird’s-eye view of properties and surrounding neighborhoods. According to a report by DronesGlobe, drones can take high-definition pictures and videos of homes from a variety of angles. By viewing this footage online, potential buyers can quickly determine whether properties meet their needs.

4. Insurance companies: conducting damage assessments

Burned out community
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Insurance companies often use drones to help with their damage assessments in the aftermath of floods, hurricanes, fires and other disasters. They often receive approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use drones for such things as roof inspections and creating aerial overviews of storm damage. This reduces the amount of time it takes to process insurance claims and enables adjusters to avoid the risk of physically inspecting damaged buildings.

5. Construction: improving efficiency

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Construction companies are streamlining their operations through the use of drones. Fortune reports that drones are less expensive to use than traditional aircraft and gather information more quickly than human surveyors. They enable construction companies to track progress on work sites with a high degree of accuracy. When combined with computing tools, builders can use aerial images to create three-dimensional structural models and topographical maps.

6. Aerial building inspections: cutting costs

Aerial view of downtown Detroit
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Time takes a toll on all structures, and inspecting them for wear manually can be costly and labor intensive. Using drones can greatly reduce labor and inspection times. Cutting back the amount of time human workers are involved in the inspection process also reduces the chance of injuries. TechEmergence reports that the New York Power Authority cut its costs by using drones to inspect an ice boom, a string of pontoons that restrict ice flows, near Lake Erie. The cost of sending a drone is less than $300, compared with more than $3,000 to send a boat or a helicopter to do the same task.

7. Home deliveries: goods flown your doorstep

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Although it has yet to win approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, online shopping site Amazon envisions a time in the not-too-distant future when it will use unmanned aircraft to deliver packages to homes. A prototype was introduced in 2013. If and when the FAA grants approval, Amazon and other businesses will be able to greatly reduce their delivery costs. According to a report in Time, Amazon leaders believe that drones one day will be as commonplace as delivery trucks.

How do you feel about the use of drones for delivering products to your doorstep and other ways the small unmanned aircraft are changing our lives? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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