Tom David Frey
Drone Inspections: A Profitable Venture for UAV Enthusiasts
Dream of playing around all day and getting paid for it?
Missed your calling as a professional skateboarder or animal play specialist (stick thrower)?
Visual inspection of industrial installations, real estate, and more often requires humans to don safety harnesses and wiggle, crawl or climb into very high or tight spaces. Increasingly, people are turning to technology to eliminate danger to life and limbs.
How about turning your love for all things technical into cash? Your love of piloting a UAV can turn into lucrative drone inspections. Read on to learn more.
Drone Inspections Save Lives
According to OSHA, 3.5 out of 100,000 workers die on the job annually. More than a third of them died from falls. Simply getting people off of roofs, ladders, and scaffolds reduces the risk of death.
Drone inspections allow a camera to act as the inspector's eyes while the inspector's body remains safely and comfortably earthbound. A drone pilot collects visual data for careful review by an expert.
Instead of sending a valuable expert to the top of a wind generation mast or inside a pressure oven, a drone operator can explore and review every square inch with a camera.
Industries Where Drone Inspection is Appropriate
Drones are useful tools in both interior and exterior inspections. While they may not fully replace a physical inspection, they certainly save time and limit dangerous work.
Industries currently utilizing drone services include:
Agriculture and Forestry
Infrastructure & Utilities
Fire and Rescue
Mining, Oil, and Gas
Police and Military
Depending on the type of inspection, different sensors can be deployed on drones.
Pilots and Equipment
The most common types of drone inspection jobs require plenty of flight time. Pilots need many hours of practice over water and land to accurately estimate flight distances, battery life, and conditions. For example, a too-tight maneuver or sudden loss of lift during a power line inspection can damage the drone and possibly the entire North American power grid.
Automated flight and smart camera features are some of the equipment needs you should anticipate. It can be very monotonous to sweep an area in overlapping "slices". Smart features will allow your drone to fly in a pre-arranged pattern and software stitches the images together.
Different payloads reflect different types of inspections. A standard high-resolution camera is fine for many inspections, but a responsive zoom lens camera, a thermal camera, or night vision scope may be necessary. Shielding your drone and its payload for special work in necessary.
Electromagnetic shielding, nonreactive batteries, temperature resistant shields, or chemical resistant carbon fibers may be in order.
Explore the Options
Drone inspections and drone inspection services have entered the mainstream. Not only can you find a brisk business in drone-produced visual tours of real estate, but there are also other opportunities in many industries.
A drone can replace a hazardous climb up rickety ladders, squeeze into a chemical storage tank or dip into a cistern with endangering people. Work independently or hire yourself out as a pilot for an inspection company.
All you need is the right equipment and lots of flying practice. Check out our drone guides and online courses for ideas.