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26 Jun 2023 < Back

Soaring to new heights

In recent years, drone technology has witnessed an unprecedented rise in popularity, propelling it from military applications to the hands of professionals, consumers and absolute novices for professional and recreational use. But why has there been a soaring popularity in drones and how can a hobbyist take their enthusiasm into the workplace?

Paving the way for all

The transformation of drone technology has brought about a revolution in terms of accessibility and affordability. Gone are the days when drones were restricted to military, government or people with lots of loose cash. The miniaturization of components and advancements in manufacturing processes have significantly reduced the size and weight of drones. This not only makes them more portable but also more affordable to produce.

Moreover, technological advancements have made drones more user-friendly. Features such as intuitive controls, automated flight modes, and obstacle avoidance systems have made it easier for beginners to operate drones safely and confidently. Today, drones have become widely available to consumers, with varying levels of initial startup kits - all available at the click of your fingers.

Capturing the world from above

One of the key driving forces behind the popularity of drones lies in their ability to capture aerial images and videos. In the past, obtaining such shots required expensive, specialist equipment. However, drones equipped with high-resolution cameras have democratized aerial photography. From home surveys where rooftops can be inspected safely, to stretching landscapes covered in flora and restricting access, which would have taken days to manually cut pathways and inspect; drone technology is opening doors like we have never seen before!

Drones & herbicide application

Recently, I had the pleasure of attending a drone demo on behalf of Railscape Ltd, where they highlighted the work they have been producing on herbicide application via the use of drones. This innovate idea, brought to life and showed how they target specific plants in hard to access areas. Thankfully, we have Railscape Ltd speaking at our International Invasive Weeds Conference in November where, not only will they present their studies, but they will be readily available with a drone to discuss new opportunities for this application method.

Switching flight paths

This technology is not out of reach, and PCA members are already capable of being able to introduce the use of drones into surveys. Whilst we traditionally would expect an invasive weeds survey to be conducted entirely by a site walkover, JBB Solutions will be highlighting in an upcoming guest blog, that a large majority of their site assessments are being carried out with the aid of drone technology and how this has helped them manage time on large expansive sites across Scotland and the North of England.

Time to embrace this new technology?

You could argue that technology will never trump a surveyors' “gut feeling”, and whilst I agree, drone technology could be used hand in hand with traditional survey methods, rather than as a complete replacement. Could this be an opportunity for us to embrace new techniques and learn new skillsets, rather than being stuck in our ways? Futuristic technology is not 20 years away, it’s at the tip of our fingers and ready to be explored...



Gervais Sawyer

If considering drones, you would do well to read Air Accident Investigation Branch Bulletins and reports of incidents involving drones (called UAS unmanned aircraft systems). There are dozens of crashes. Most seem to involve unexpected loss of power or contact with the controller. go to Then navigate to 'Monthly Bulletins' and select the month required. Just about any month will do. UAS reports are the last in the bulleting.

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