Frequently making headlines today is the use of “drones,” or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), particularly as it relates to package delivery.
“This is the application that gets all the attention,” said Sheridan Ware, Chief Information Officer – Asia Pacific for Cushman & Wakefield, in introducing the topic to an educational session at the CoreNet Global Summit Shanghai. “Regardless of what you hear, just-in-time package delivery is still very experimental, with many hurdles yet to cross.”
But drones are become widely used in a variety of professions. Take cinema and television, for instance. “The last two Bond films, Skyfall and Spectre, used drones to do some of their filming,” she said.
Drones are being used in a variety of agricultural applications, from analyzing fields to planting seeds and spraying crops.
Emergency response teams, for whom time is the critical element, are also benefiting from the use of drones. “You could send a group of drones to an impacted area to address the most pressing needs,” Sheridan pointed out.
There are numerous potential applications for drones in corporate real estate, including:
- Property marketing (adoption is growing rapidly)
- Construction monitoring (progress, but safety as well)
- Property and equipment inspections (drones can reach places that are dangerous or hard to access)
- Security (can serve as first line of defense, capturing video of what’s happening until a physical response can be organized)
Risks and challenges of drones include:
- Regulations and safety (e.g., rules regarding how close you can fly to a commercial airport, which areas cannot be flown over, what time of day drones can fly, line-of-sight requirements, licensing requirements, etc.)
- Battery life (not great, perhaps 30 minutes without the weight of any cargo, and even less in cold climates)
- Insurance (some companies now issuing drone-specific insurance policies)
- Privacy (remember that drones have high-definition video capability, and could conceivably capture images of documents or computer screens inside buildings)
But drones are not particularly expensive, Sheridan noted in concluding the session. “Lower-end commercial drones are about US$1,000,” she said.