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  • Writer's pictureHammer Missions

How to make money with a drone?

Updated: Jan 3


In recent years, drones have transcended their role as mere gadgets, transforming into indispensable tools for various industries. This evolution has given rise to a fascinating opportunity for drone pilots to not only indulge in their passion for flying but also to turn it into a profitable venture. In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore the myriad ways drone pilots can capitalize on their skills and equipment to generate income, from capturing valuable data to providing essential services across different sectors. Let's take a look.


how to make money with a drone


It's not about the Drone, it's about the Data! 💡


One of the fundamental things to get right when starting a drone business is that it's not about the drones, it's about the data! A lot of people focus on the drones, and rightly so, after all it's the drone the enables everything. However, as with any industry, it's important to focus on that what's closer to the customer and the deliverable, and that in the drone industry is the data.


However, as with any industry, it's important to focus on that what's closer to the customer and the deliverable, and that in the drone industry is the data.

Drones have proven to be more than just flying machines; they are data collectors that can revolutionize the way industries operate. Drone pilots possess the ability to capture invaluable data, providing insights and solutions that were once unimaginable. This section will delve into the transformative impact drones can have in various industries, with a focus on the lucrative opportunities that lie within. But before delve into that, here's a video summarising some of the key drone services in the market today.





Now that we understand the different types of drone services and how drones can be applied to all of them, let's do a deep dive into the different mapping and inspection services which are growing at an incredible pace.

1. Facade Inspection with Drones 🏢


One prominent example of the value drones bring is in facade inspection. Traditional methods involving cherry pickers or scaffolding can be costly, time-consuming, and sometimes risky. Drones offer a safer, more efficient, and cost-effective alternative.


Just imagine the amount of cost savings you enable by performing inspections at a height! Add to that the fact that facades are actually quite an integral and complex part of buildings, and you've got yourself a great opportunity to add value to building contractors, surveyors and more.


Curious how this all works? Here's Alex in an end-to-end video summarising how would go about undertaking a facade inspection.


The deliverable in this type of inspection would typically be an inspection report together with a 3D model of the facade. Providing end customers with tools to digitally annotate, comment and collaborate on the facade will improve project outcomes and allow you to differentiate yourself from others simply providing random images on a USB drive.


For more information on facade inspection with drones, please visit the following resources:


2. Construction Site Monitoring with Drones 🏗️


Construction sites are dynamic environments, and monitoring progress is a critical aspect of project management. Drones provide an aerial perspective that allows for comprehensive site progress tracking. In this section, we'll discuss how drone pilots can offer construction stockpile measurements and real-time monitoring, ensuring construction projects stay on schedule and within budget.


One the key applications for drones in construction is during the earthworks stage of the construction project. In this stage of the project, contractors are typically moving ground around the site to make it suitable for construction and in this process, their goal is to reduce the amount of ground / materials used. A drone can be an incredibly powerful tool during this stage as it can collect data for the site at scale, and allow all that data to be processed into a 3D model. This 3D model can then be used for stockpile measurements and cut/fill maps which are instrumental to successful operation at this stage.


Curious how this all works? Here's Jason explaining the end-to-end workflow for stockpile measurements.


For more information on construction site monitoring with drones, please visit the following resources:


3. Drone Solar Inspections ☀️


The solar industry has embraced drone technology for inspecting solar farms and installations. Drones enable efficient and detailed inspections, ensuring the optimal performance of solar assets. This section will outline the opportunities for drone pilots in providing solar inspections, emphasizing the importance of asset condition understanding for solar energy infrastructure.


Given the world's geopolitical conditions in 2023, it's clear that every country around the world will be pushing for energy independence and solar / wind will have a big role to play in that. Since solar parks can be quite large and wind turbines quite inaccessible, drones have become the defacto tool for most asset managers. If you are connected to O&Ms in this space, it can be a great way for you to leverage your drone and provide aerial insights and cut down the inspection costs both in time and the overall project risks!


Curious how it all works? Here's Varun from Hammer Missions summarising the solar park inspection workflow using both thermal and visual cameras.


4. Infrastructure Inspections with Drones 🛤️


Infrastructure, from bridges to wind turbines, demands regular inspections to ensure safety and functionality. Drones offer a solution that is not only cost-effective but also minimizes risks associated with manual inspections. We'll explore how drone pilots can tap into this market by offering services like wind turbine inspections, bridge assessments, and other critical infrastructure inspections.


When it comes to bridges, railway tracks, water towers or other critical infrastructure, a lot of the times inspections require complex flight plans and capturing of otherwise inaccessible areas. For these specific assets, it's quite important to ensure that you have the appropriate training and flying skills to capture the asset from all angles and ensure 100% coverage of the asset to ensure all parts are thoroughly inspected. So if flying in complex scenrios is your core strength, this might be an industry to look at.


5. Agricultural Mapping for Precision Agriculture 🚜


Agriculture has embraced the digital era, and drones play a pivotal role in precision agriculture. Drone pilots can provide farmers with detailed aerial maps for crop analysis, yield prediction, and resource optimization. This section will highlight the immense potential for drone pilots in the agriculture sector, emphasizing the importance of data-driven decision-making for modern farming practices.


There are many different applications for drones within agriculture. Everything from predicting the crop yield to understanding the general health of the crops. Agricultural applications typically require multispectral imaging which is essentially made possible to attaching a multispectral camera to the body of the drone. Multispectral imaging allow you to capture the site in many different wavelengths of light and the difference between those wave lengths (NDVI scores) can usually be a good predictor for yield.


To learn more about drones in agriculture, please visit: Drone Technology in Agriculture



Agricultural Mapping with drones

6. Real Estate 3D Models with Drones 🏠


Real estate professionals are increasingly turning to drone photography to showcase properties from unique angles. This section will explore how drone pilots can carve a niche in the real estate market by providing stunning aerial imagery for property listings. From residential homes to expansive commercial developments, the sky's the limit for drone-assisted real estate photography.


An increasingly popular application of drones is to create 3D models of real estate assets. This can be a great way for a developer to showcase their new development alongside marketing shots. After all, we've all seen physical 3D models of new development projects, so it only makes sense for digital 3D models to follow! 3D models for building using drones requires a heavy focus on drone photogrammetry and an understanding of how to capture the correct oblique images to blend it all together into an amazing 3D model.


Curious to learn more? Here's Alex from Hammer Missions going through the end-to-end workflow of creating a 3D model using a drone.




7. Drone Roof Inspections 🏚️


Traditional roof inspections can be time-consuming and sometimes hazardous. Drones offer a safer and more efficient alternative for assessing roof conditions. In this section, we'll discuss how drone pilots can offer roof inspection services to homeowners, insurance companies, and property managers, providing detailed insights into the health of rooftops without the need for climbing.


The benefit for using drones for roof inspections is obvious. Drone based roof inspections are not only more cost effective than traditional methods (cherry pickers, scaffolding), but also safer and more thorough as a digital copy of the roof can be inspected multiple times. Everything from a commercial roof to a residential roof requires inspection at regular intervals and this can be a great opportunity for a drone pilot. Generally speaking, roof inspections can be an easier market to enter, especially if local relationships in your target geography can be leveraged.


Drone-based roof inspections can take many forms, but the most common ones are visual and thermal inspections. Visual inspections can be good for checking the structural integrity of the roof and thernal inspections are great for helping with catching insulation issues.


Curious to learn more? Here's Varun & Alex going through the end-to-end process for drone-powered roof inspections.




8. Drone Cell Tower Inspections 🗼


Maintaining and inspecting cell towers is crucial for the telecommunications industry. Drones can navigate the heights and complexities of these structures, offering a cost-effective solution for inspections. This section will outline the opportunities for drone pilots in providing cell tower inspection services, ensuring the seamless operation of communication networks.


Telcoms networks are always looking to keep tabs on the health of their physical assets (cell towers!). Drones can be extremely beneficial here as they reduce the cost of the inspection, which would traditionally be done by climbing the cell towers - once again not only unproductive, but extremely unsafe. Cell tower inspectors are typically looking to understand the health of their cell towers - the onboard components, whethere there are any corrosion or rust issues, whether the antennas are pointing the right direction (azimuth) and whether the height and distance between components is as required.


Creating a digital twin of the cell tower using drones can be really intrumental here as this gives telcom companies the ability to digitially record the condition of their tower over time.


Here's Alex from Hammer Missions demonstrating how to a cell tower can be captured and converted into a digital twin.



Essential Tips for Making Money with Drones

1. Know Your Customer


Successful drone businesses hinge on understanding the needs of the customer. In this section, we'd like to emphasize the importance of identifying target markets and tailoring services to meet specific industry demands. Whether working with construction companies, solar farms, farmers, real estate agents, or telecommunications providers, drone pilots need a customer-centric approach to thrive in the competitive drone service market.


2. Plan Your Operations


As with any business venture, planning is paramount. This section will guide aspiring drone entrepreneurs through the process of strategic business planning. From defining services and pricing structures to understanding potential costs, we'll provide a roadmap for drone pilots to navigate the complexities of starting and growing a successful drone business.

To further assist drone pilots in their entrepreneurial journey, we've curated a list of valuable resources. These guides cover essential aspects of growing, marketing, pricing, and managing costs in a drone inspection business. Explore these guides for in-depth insights and actionable tips:



3. Take the First Step


Last but not the leas, with so many different options, starting a drone business can feel daunting at first but it all boils down to taking the first step. As with any business, it's all about taking small steps at first and learning as you go, and then taking bigger steps over time. To help with this, we have created a set visual resources on our YouTube channel completely free to access.


We hope that we are able to contribute to your entrepreneurial journey in small way and be a part of your success!


Summary


In conclusion, the opportunities for making money using drones are vast and diverse. From capturing data for industry-specific needs to offering essential services in construction, infrastructure, agriculture, real estate, and telecommunications, drone pilots can position themselves as indispensable partners in various sectors. By understanding their customers, planning strategically, and utilizing the provided resources, drone entrepreneurs can soar to new heights in the exciting world of aerial services.


About Us


Hammer Missions is a software platform that helps drone (UAV) professionals work with versatile & high-quality drone data for site surveys and asset inspections. Our goal is to help businesses cut costs and increase ROI by building operational efficiency in their drone programs.


Hammer Hub is a cloud-based platform where drone data can be processed and visualized in a full 3D environment. This data can also be annotated using AI to accelerate the annotation process, and it can then be shared with other team members or stakeholders within the organization for further review – a great benefit when working with a digital twin.


If you haven't got a Hammer account yet and would like to try Hammer Missions you can get started by booking a call


- Team at Hammer Missions



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