A new research report released recently has found increasing drone use in Australia presents a range of benefits for communities – particularly for regional areas and in emergency relief and disaster management.
The report, delivered by the national centre for transport and mobility research iMOVE with the University of South Australia as the lead research partner, identifies a number of benefits as well as challenges facing drone uptake across the country.
It also provides an overview of the Australian drone sector, including an international comparison, and assesses the geographic and social drivers behind drone uptake.
The report identifies a number of industries could greatly benefit from increased drone use, including in emergency relief and disaster management, security services, freight, agriculture, last-mile deliveries, recreation and entertainment.
Australia’s emergency services sector is projected to unlock the greatest potential benefits from drones, having a net productivity increase of 10 per cent – resulting in a $460 million net boost to the national economy.
Drones can also lead to savings of between $1-8 billion if used in early fire detection, based on scenario mapping using data from the 2019–20 bushfire season.
Australia’s strong, open economy, combined with its low population density and large rural areas, creates opportunities to unlock further benefits from drone use.
This includes in regional areas, which are predicted to benefit most – particularly as drone technology continues to improve delivery and transport services.
Australia can still expect to face challenges as drone uptake grows. That includes technological limitations, such as battery life and weather resilience, as well as in-air traffic management – particularly ensuring drones aren’t flown in private or restricted areas.
The report’s consumer survey found strong public support for the use of drones in sectors such as emergency services, disaster recovery, security, agriculture and environmental management.
However, some concerns about drone technology include privacy, disturbance to wildlife, safety risks, impact on airspace and security risks.
The report also reiterated the important role of Government in supporting the uptake of drone technologies through regulation, investment, public education and impact management.
This research was jointly funded, with the Australian Government, iMOVE and the University of South Australia. The Australian Government contributed $100,000.