PwC report supports UK government drone strategy, predicts 900,000 drones by 2030

PwC’s latest market report ‘Skies Without Limits v2.0’ follows close on the heels of publication by the UK government of its vision for the UK drone sector at Farnborough 2022. The PwC reports predicts by 2030:

– Drones could contribute up to GBP45 billion to the UK economy
– More than 900,000 drones could operate in the UK’s skies
– GBP22 billion in net cost savings may be realised
– Carbon emissions could be reduced by 2.4M tons
– 650,000 jobs could be associated with an economy that fully adopts drones.

In collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Department for Transport (DfT), PwC has revisited its 2018 report “Skies Without Limits” (SWL1) to provide an updated look at the potential impact of drones on the UK economy and estimate the potential for commercial drones to positively impact the UK economy. Four years on, this report uses a similar “best case” drone adoption curve to the SWL1 report and identifies the challenges that must be addressed to unlock this potential. These include perception, drone implementation, technology, legislation/regulation and skills.

Drones offer public and private organisations an opportunity to carry out tasks faster, safer, cheaper and with less impact on the environment than traditional methods. This report focuses on these types of drone operations, referred to as commercial drones, excluding drones used by hobbyists, drones used to transport passengers and counter-drone solutions.

Case studies

Drones are making a difference “right now” and these compelling solutions must be scaled up and enhanced to realise the 2030 projections in this report. The report explores the impact of drones in each sector and presents some inspirational case studies which illustrate the potential for drone transformation. The majority of the case studies feature exciting UK startups and forward-thinking entities, evidencing the UK’s ability to innovate and drive change in both the private and public sector. Many of the case studies feature innovation and close collaboration with the UK regulator and pave the way for a future where we enjoy the benefits of Routine BLVOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Site) Flight.

There are 13 case studies, covering use cases as diverse as BVLOS methane detection in the North Sea to delivery of coffee in Ireland. Many of the case studies feature innovation and close collaboration with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and pave the way for routine BVLOS. What they have in common is:

  • Flying in a “business as usual” mode, with either paying customers or forming a core part of public services
  • Delivering tangible benefits (faster, safer, cheaper, better for the environment) “right now”
  • Have only “scratched the surface” and there is considerable potential for growth.
Case study Use case Organisation
Food, Parcel and Medical “Last Mile” Delivery – Could We Go A Little Faster? Delivery – Last mile Manna
New Logistics Using Existing Infrastructure To Connect Communities Delivery – Cargo/middle mile Windracers
Highlight Accurate Drones Keeping Passengers And Engineers Safe and Minimising Commuting Delays Survey- Rail Plowman Craven
The Criticality of Integrating Drones with Business As Usual Data Cyberhawk / Dronecloud
Teaming Manned and Unmanned to Deliver Effective Search and Rescue in UK Waters Search and Rescue Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Faster, Safer And Cheaper Building Inspection Inspection – Building CPC / Renfrewshire Council
Rapid Response At Times of Environmental Crisis Flood Response Environment Agency
Remote Piloting Paving the Way for Autonomous BVLOS Remote piloting
Deploying BVLOS Solutions in a Mature Drone Market BVLOS – Oil and Gas Flylogic
Reducing Leaks With Smart Solutions Leak detection in the water industry Team UAV
Automating Traditional Agricultural Practices Agriculture Autospray Systems / Drone Ag
Why Send a Human to Do a Drone’s Job? Drone-in-a-box surveillance Herotech8
Digital Transformation in Stockpile Auditing Drones in Audit



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