IoT and Drones: Their Capacities and Key Use Cases

IoT and Drones

We can’t say that drones and IoT, in general, are unique anymore. Both have been with us for a while. But what is true is that both are being implemented more actively than ever across various industries.

Drones today are viewed as a new form of IoT device, shaping the flying IoT segment. Thanks to the development of drone technology, these IoT devices can act as sensors to gather strategically important data and transfer this information to analytics platforms or cloud-based tools for further processing. They can also be deployed to conduct flying inspections of various IoT network elements.

In this article, we’ll explain how businesses use the capacities of the Internet of Things and professional drones today and what types of software can be developed to ensure efficient interaction with these devices.

Drones and IoT: Market overview

While the popularity of amateur drones is growing, the same can be said about the use of commercial drones. In 2020, the volume of the global commercial drone market was $13.44 billion. It is expected that within the 2021 to 2028 period, the market will grow at a CAGR of 57.5%.

Drone market

The market expansion is supported by a rapidly increasing number of companies investing in drone technologies. North America is the leading region adopting this tech.

Among the factors boosting this market is the emergence of drone-based solutions for numerous business applications and a focus by hardware manufacturers on building advanced and innovative devices that will expand the list of use cases for them.

What are the main drone use cases today?

For many of us, drones are mostly cool, innovative toys that can be used for entertainment. Let’s be honest, many people, on hearing the word drones, will think first not of the use of drone technology in different industries but of amazing videos created by travel bloggers and the like, posted on YouTube.

In reality, drones are much more than that. In various business sectors, they perform a variety of important tasks (like last mile delivery or mapping) that help companies increase their productivity and the quality of their services and processes. Let’s dive a little deeper into the details of how some industries are using their drones.

commercial drones

  • Drones in logistics

In a previously published article explaining the role of IoT in logistics, we mentioned the use of drones for deliveries (especially in last-mile delivery activities). This sphere is actively developing. It’s important to think of this as more than simple full-scale B2C deliveries. Let’s be honest; they won’t always be feasible and sometimes they won’t be even possible due to the high cost of such projects and the comparatively short battery life of these devices. At least for now. But some very promising use cases include last-mile deliveries or moving items within warehouses and commercial facilities. 

Thanks to their capacities, Internet of Things drones are expected to help with reducing operational costs and expenses as well as enhancing customer experience and satisfaction.

  • Drones in agriculture

Drones are considered part of the future of agriculture. They can be used for performing numerous tasks within a precision farming approach that includes responsible use of water and fertilizers as well as maximization of quality, productivity and yields.

With these innovative devices and relevant software, farmers can track livestock and crop conditions by air and quickly detect issues and deal with them. This takes field management to a completely new level, while optimizing the use of resources and reducing operational costs.

There are two key drone technologies used in agriculture. They are:

  • Mapping. Drones can be used to map crops. Using special IoT apps, farmers can plan drone flights around the required area; applications can automatically create flight routes and then, if necessary, accumulate the camera shots made by drones. Users can set the locations where pics should be taken by a drone camera, and a drone will automatically snap them, based on the GPS data.
  • Spraying. Some models of modern drones can carry tanks with fertilizers for crops. What is especially important for agriculture is that these devices are more precise in spraying than traditional machinery. As a result, drones can be applied with a view to reducing expenses and the volume of fertilizers needed.
  • Drones in mining

IoT-based drones are able to increase the general efficiency of large mine site management and operation. This goal can be achieved by obtaining comprehensive and fully precise data on the site conditions practically in real-time. Having this information, managers can ensure better coordination of teams onsite and remotely, which boosts overall productivity.

There are two key ways that indoor drones can improve mining operation safety:

  1. Strobe inspection
  2. Mining equipment inspection

Using drones, miners can avoid going to places that may be unsafe for their health and life and get all the necessary data from flying devices with cameras. Thanks to modern technologies, it is possible to get high-quality visual data without risking workers’ lives.

  • Drones in the construction industry

Drones can also be of great use in the construction industry, where their capability of providing aerial data recording in real-time can help reduce costs and streamline workflow for conducting infrastructure inspection and performing other tasks. Below are a couple of use cases of Internet of Things drones in this industry.

  1. Land mapping. With drones, it is possible to significantly reduce the time needed to visualize the topography of a chosen zone.
  2. Remote progress monitoring and reporting. Drones ensure great visibility and allow companies to share practically real-time data gathered on construction sites with clients.
  3. Equipment monitoring. Managers can do flyovers and quickly get reliable data instead of visiting the facilities themselves.
  4. Taking photos. Drones can fly around structures and facilities and take photos that help experts make inspections quickly and easily.
  5. Security surveillance. Drone operators can use cameras to check whether there are any unauthorized people on the site and whether all equipment is stored in secure locations.
  6. Team safety. Cameras that drones can be equipped with allow managers to monitor the site to make sure that nothing is threatening workers’ safety, that all structures are stable and all equipment is functioning properly.

Drones are not new in the construction industry, but it is expected that in the future their role will gain even more importance. One possible area of application for drones is the management and operation of autonomous vehicles.

  • Drones for safety and rescue

Speaking of flying IoT, we should mention some uses beyond commercial applications of these devices. Drones are also widely (and efficiently) used by emergency services in rescue operations.

Some modern flying devices are equipped with heat, movement, light and temperature sensors, which increase the chances of positive outcomes of rescue missions.


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Development of drone IoT applications

If you are planning to implement drones in your business processes, it will be very useful to find out what software solutions can be used for managing them. It’s crucial to determine at the start whether you really need to build a solution enriched with drone technology from scratch.

The functionality of an app greatly depends on the industry you work in, and for some tasks, there are already a lot of solutions available on the market. We recommend analyzing the situation carefully in advance, as sometimes it can be more feasible to take a ready-made solution and just customize some features if needed.

Types of drone software:

  • Swarm software
  • Mapping software
  • Delivery software
  • Mission-critical software
  • Enterprise solutions
  • Photogrammetry software
  • Inspection software
  • Delivery software
  • Indoor drone position system

For sure there are not all of them but we've tried to name the most popular ones.

  • Features for drone software

Of course, the exact set of features will be shaped for each app individually, given its unique functionality and tasks. Here’s a list of the most in-demand features that are integrated into a great number of IoT apps today:

  • A learning mode for users who have never flown drones, and a training simulator
  • Maps for finding locations where a drone can take off
  • Databases with information on no-fly zones
  • Weather forecasts for detecting whether it is possible to fly a drone now
  • A flight log
  • Flight data tracking
  • Flight history
  • A camera platform
  • A digital awareness system for notifying about any manned aircraft flying in the same zone
  • A flight route planner
  • Features for processing data received from light, heat and temperature sensors if a drone has those 

The main aspects you will need to decide on and pay attention to when you are planning to develop a drone app include:

  1. Native or cross-platform development
  2. Convenient and intuitively clear UI
  3. Non-functional requirements (security, scalability, maintainability, etc.)
  4. High-quality and reliable app testing
  5. Compatibility of your app with the necessary range of mobile devices

One of the most popular examples of drone apps is DJI Go. DJI Go is a free drone-control app offered by the US Federal Aviation Administration. Using this app, operators of drones can get necessary information related to flight restrictions and special requirements in particular areas.

If you are interested in building an app for operating drones to meet your business goals, we are happy to help you at Cogniteq. With solid expertise in developing IoT solutions, our seasoned experts will provide you with a feature-rich and easy-to-use software product that will be highly reliable and fully secure. Share your ideas with us, and we’ll see what we can offer you! Please fill in this form and our specialists will contact you after processing your inquiry.