The market for consumer drones is growing at a rapid pace. Going into 2015, the market was projected to hit around $130 million in sales. By 2018 that number is expects to soar to $1 billion.
That’s a lot of drones hitting the skies in the coming year. So, what is with the drone craze? What is so cool about drones that people are going out and buying them in waves?
In this post I’ll take a look at 20 different unique ways drones are being used. While a lot of the ways drones are currently being used are mainly for photography or videography purposes, some people have gotten creative with the use of their drones.
1. Enhanced real estate photography and videography
Using drones to capture unique stills or videos of real estate properties is perhaps one of the most talked about uses for drones from a commercial prospective…
If you’re a real estate agent looking for an outstanding way to showcase your properties, using a drone to capture aerial stills and video of the homes you are listing can be a great way to catch potential buyers’ attention.
Aerial stills and footage of the properties you are listing will give home shoppers a good idea of the property’s surrounding areas and will give them a complete look at the entirety of the property.
And, ultimately, by offering a better all-around listing, you will likely win the hearts of more potential clients.
NOTE: The FAA requires that in order to use your drone for commercial purposes, you must have an FAA approved 333 exemption and have a pilot’s license.
2. Turn yourself into a tech-savvy farmer?
Are you a farmer? Do you also love technology? Would you like to use your love of technology to help you be a more efficient farmer?
If so, then you may want to consider getting a drone to help you monitor your farm and help you get important data about your crops.
There are many drone companies and projects being launched that will aim to improve the way farms operate. Such projects and companies will seek to determine things like the health of crops, whether or not crops are getting enough water, how much pesticide to apply and where to apply it, and the best times for harvesting.
Drones can also be used by farmers to save time scouting their crops, getting a better idea for crop rotation, and mapping out their farm.
In the future, drones will open up wide possibilities for farmers and their ability to maximize the yield from their crops.
3. Give your photography business an edge
Do you run a photography business? If so, adding a drone to your camera-arsenal can give you an edge over your competitors when potential clients in your area are looking for a photographer.
With a drone you can capture photos and videos from angles that other photographers (ones who do not have drones) simply will never be able to reach.
Drones are quickly becoming popular for weddings, events, and family photo sessions simply because of the unique perspective they can add to such photo or video sessions.
Ultimately, by offering drone photography and videography you are offering your clients a more complete package.
NOTE: Again, the FAA regulates the use of drones for commercial purposes and requires that you have an FAA 333 exemption and a pilot’s license in order to be able to run your drone for commercial purposes.
4. Get into a technology that has a big future
Some people will want to get a drone simply because it is the hot new technology. It’s like owning computer in the late 80’s early 90’s, except that consumer drones now are much more useful than consumer computers were during that time period.
But, just as there was a”cool” factor associated with owning computer then (being an early-adopter is always cool), the same is true for owning a drone now. And, while it is true that more drones were sold in 2015 than in all previous years combined, the market for consumer drones projects to hit $1 billion by the year 2018…
So… it’s safe to say that the market for consumer drones is still in its infancy. And, if you want to be one of the early-adopters of the technology, now is the time to hop on board.
5. For fun, duh!
Perhaps the best reason to get a drone is, simply, because they are a lot of fun. Even with the FAA rolling out new consumer-oriented regulations that limit what you can do with a drone, drones are still a lot of fun to fly.
I’m not really sure what it is, but man has always had a fascination with attempting to conquer things he shouldn’t really be able to… and with drones, that attempt is for man to further it’s domain over the skies.
In any case, flying a drone can be a very enjoyable experience… especially if you have a capable drone that is easy to fly. If you haven’t flown a drone, yet, I recommend you do so.
6. Capture stunning footage
Obviously the biggest thrill for drone enthusiasts is the fact that they can take stunning aerial photos and videos and they don’t have to be expert photographers to get those shots.
This is simply because any aerial shot (assuming it’s taken by a quality camera) has a certain quality of awe to it and so you don’t have to be a professional to get a really cool photo or video.
So, essentially, if you want to capture video or footage that nobody else can get to, you need a drone.
7. Stand out on social media
We all follow people who post daily selfies on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. And, we all wonder why they get so many followers…
Now, I’m not suggesting you should be a one-upper, but… you should definitely one-up them and take daily selfies as well… with your drone. That is, of course, if you want to become the new king or queen of your social media circle.
Seriously, though, one of the best ways to build a big social media following is to post high-quality videos or photos that are unique. And, what better way to do that than with a drone?
8. Fly through the air… from the ground!
One of the coolest features of some of the more high-end drones on the market is the ability to live stream your flight footage right to your mobile device. This is called FPV (First Person View).
Many drones now are controlled partially through a mobile app on your phone or tablet. For instance, the DJI Phantom 3 series comes with their transmitter, which has the standard control features, and then you also need to connect your smartphone or tablet to the transmitter and use their app for the rest of the flying features they offer.
And, with their app, your phone/tablet will actually display exactly what the camera on your drone is seeing. So, instead of having to look up at your drone in the skies at all times, you can look at your tablet and get a first-person view of what your drone’s camera is looking at.
There are many benefits of FPV in terms of positioning your drone for the best shot possible, but one of the coolest aspects of this is that it allows you to see what it would be like to fly through the air. There are even FPV-dedicated goggles that you can wear to isolate the view (though it’s a good idea to have a spotter with a direct line-of-sight on the drone).
9. You could be the next Dale Earndhart Jr… of Drones!
Believe it or not, drone racing is already a thing and a national drone racing championship has already been established. Basically, drone racing is very similar to playing a competitive eSports video game where all of the contestants sit side-by-side and race their drones.
And, instead of standing over the arena and watching their drones, they use FPV goggles to guide their machines as they race around the course.
10. They’re becoming more affordable
Consumer drones now range from as low as ~$40 to as expensive as ~$3,000 or more. But the less expensive drones are continually becoming better and easier to fly.
Even sub $50 drones like the Syma X5C come equipped with a camera and some advanced features like return-to-home. That’s pretty amazing for a ~$50 quadcopter.
And, while the Syma X5C doesn’t have the most amazing camera setup (shoots in 720p and doesn’t have a gimbal to stabilize video), it shows you that affordable drones are both capable and improving.
Ultimately, as drone technology continues to advance, you will continue to see the quality of drones under $100 improve.
11. They’re actually not that hard to fly… if you’re smart about it
Now this is probably subjective as there are a lot of drone-enthusiasts out there who would argue that flying a drone is a difficult endeavor takes a lot of practice.
And, I won’t argue with those people because they have a lot of YouTube videos to backup that claim.
However, in my experience, drones are becoming easier and easier to fly and some of the high-end drones on the market (like the DJI Phantom 3 series and the 3DR Solo) are so simple to fly that it’s kind of amazing…
That’s not to say that problems don’t arise during flights, or that the Phantom 3 and the Solo are perfect, but rather that if you use common sense and fly your drone with caution when you are first starting out, you will be surprised to see how well they handle and how easy they are to navigate.
13. Capture sports angles like never before
Yes, we all saw that drone nearly crush a skier a few weeks back. That was scary… and it makes you wonder why the drone was floating right above the course… Why not move the drone a little to the side and sacrifice the overhead view to ensure the skiers’ safety?
In any case, if used safely, drones can be used in various sports settings—from popular sports like football (the American kind) and football (the rest-of-the-world kind), to extreme sports like mountain biking, snowboarding , etc.—to capture unique angles and show the sport like it has never been shown before.
In fact, the Tennessee Titans recently became one of the first professional sports team to receive an FAA 333 Exemption so that they could use drones for commercial purposes. It appears as if they will use their drones to take a wide array of aerial footage of their team practicing during pre-season mini camps.
Ultimately, this is likely just the beginning of drones being used to capture professional sports.
14. Map out your property and get cool pictures of your house
Even if you aren’t a real estate agent, there’s still reasons why you would want to take pictures of your home. For starters, it’s your home… and it’s a big investment. Some people cherish their home and, as such, want pictures of it. A drone allows you to take pictures of your home that nobody else can.
And, since a lot of drone cameras are high-quality, you could even have the picture of your home blown up, framed, and put up on a wall in your home.
15. Up close whale watching?
I’m not sure what the exact rules and regulations are on flying your drones over whales, but this guy is doing it:
And, so is this guy:
Need I say more?
16. Scare the $%#@ out of someone!
This is another one that can really only be explained by watching the video. This prank is unbelievably awesome…
Now, to be fair, that guy isn’t using a drone you can just order from Amazon—or from any other online retailer for that matter. He’s using a heavy-duty drone that was specifically built to carry that ghoul.
But, that doesn’t mean you can’t build something similar. I’m not sure what the legality is on something like that… I’m guessing it’s breaking some kind of law… but damn is it funny.
17. Speaking of scaring things… got an animal problem? Scare them away with your drone.
You know who doesn’t like drones (besides your neighbor)? Animals don’t like drones. But there are instances where animals not liking drones is a good thing…
For instance, Ottawa has a goose problem. You see, geese can release 2 pounds of poop each day. And, Ottawa has a lot of geese… which means a lot of goose poop.
So, the city of Ottawa has turned to drone-enthusiast Steve Wambolt to help rid them of their goose-problem. Wambolt has been tasked with chasing geese off of Petrie Island, where apparently the goose poop is so bad, that at certain times you can’t even see the ground.
Not everyone wants to chase the geese away and the choice to attempt to do so by the city is still up for debate, but it does show how drones can be used to keep pesky animals away.
18. Catch corrupt meat-packing plants turning your river red with blood…
Did you ever think that taking your drone out for a spin could end up in a scenario where you would help catch a meat-packing plant that was dumping animal blood into a nearby creek.
That’s what happened when a man flying his consumer drone over the Trinity River in Oak Cliff, Texas captured a stream of blood flowing into the river… Whatever came of the meat-packing plant, I’m not sure, but apparently multiple investigations were launched to get to the bottom of what happened.
In any case, can you really afford not to be flying your drone over local meat-packing plants now?
19. Leaf-blowing? Ha! More like leaf-droning!
Nobody likes to sweep leaves. And, pulling out the leaf-blower to do the job isn’t really all that fun… at least not compared to leaf-droning:
Yes, that’s an expensive way to get rid of your leaves… but all fun comes at a cost…
20. You can’t spell hoverboarding without D-R-O-N-E
Do you want to see what the first step in the process to becoming the Green Goblin looks like? Well check out this video:
Obviously, this isn’t a DJI Inspire 1 that the guy is floating on. He obviously spent some time building this (and apparently through all of that time out of the window when it crashed). Ultimately, though, if this guy can do it, why can’t you?