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Enterprise adoption of drone technologies could add £42bn to the UK GDP by 2030 through automating repetitive workplace processes, enabling staff to focus on higher-value work, according to a report by business advisory firm, PwC.
Research suggests 76,000 drones could be in use in the transport and logistics, construction, and media and technology industries by 2030.
Retail is set to have the biggest GDP percentage increase of 2.5% (or £7.7bn), whilst the public and defence sector could contribute the biggest value of £11.4bn to the economy (2.3% increase).
Drones are expected to save these industries around £16bn because of better productivity, with the media and technology sector set to be the biggest beneficiary (£4.8bn).
PwC’s economic director, Jonathon Gillham said the technology brings the advantages of “automating routine tasks, improving effectiveness, safety and reducing costs, and drones will free up people to focus on higher-value work”.
The technology is also predicted to create 68,000 jobs for individuals looking to build and run the devices. PwC’s drones leader, Elaine Whyte, said that whilst many people currently view the technology as a toy, drones have huge potential to revolutionise how business is done in the coming years.
“The UK has the opportunity to be at the leading edge of exploiting this emerging technology, and now is the time for investments to be made in developing the use cases and trail projects needed to kickstart our drone industry,” she said.
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“The advantages of drone technology will be well established within the decade – not only for business purposes, but also for helping to protect our society; for example, through being used by the emergency services.”
This public and defence industry is predicted to use the most drones (27,521), ahead of agriculture and mining (25,732) and transport (11,008).
Whyte said that for these estimates to come true, there needs to be continued legislation efforts from the government.
On 27 November 2017, aviation minister Baroness Sugg said in a statement it had plans to “ensure the UK remains at the forefront of the exciting and fast-growing drones market”. One of these measures was to enable police officers to order down drones if there is a suspicion of criminal activity.
However, PwC’s Whyte said “the immediate focus must be on developing society’s confidence in the technology to help drive acceptance and increase adoption”.