Briefing: Drones

June 5, 2017



Drones aren’t swarming the skies everywhere—yet. But interest in their potential for aerial data collection and monitoring is growing.

Drone technology (which collects certain information more efficiently and safely than humans can), combined with data analytics innovations, holds promise to deliver significant business value in the coming years. PwC estimates the global market for commercial applications of drone technology to exceed $127 billion.

The media and entertainment industry already uses drones extensively—drones allow news organizations, for example, to film large events by sending camera-equipped unmanned aerial vehicles into the sky. Similarly, drones are used to film professional and college sporting events to give fans a bird’s-eye view of the action. In the case of college football teams, coaching staff use drones to obtain visual data to inform practice routines.

The combination of drones and robotics could yield advantages for a variety of industries, including manufacturing, construction, and agriculture, where drones are helping increase efficiencies in soil and field analysis, planting, spraying and monitoring crops, and irrigation. Transport infrastructure, in particular, can benefit from drone technology more and faster than other industries. After all, roads and railways remain modern society’s principal means of transportation and growth.

Drones are gaining new physical, artificial intelligence (AI), and drone-to-drone and other networking capabilities all the time. As these capabilities increase, so will business interest in the technology.

Who is investing the most? Adoption numbers are still low; only 5 percent of the companies that responded to PwC’s 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey say they are investing in the technology. But we expect spending to pick up in sectors such as engineering and construction, power and utilities, agribusiness, mining, retail, and wholesale. Three years from now, 14 percent of the respondents in the 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey expect to be investing in drone technology.

Featured drones content

In this briefing, we provide an overview of the state of drone technology, highlight companies and developments that are innovating in the area of drone applications, and share relevant news and trends. Check back often for the latest.


Chris Curran

Principal and Chief Technologist, PwC US Tel: +1 (214) 754 5055 Email

Vicki Huff Eckert

Global New Business & Innovation Leader Tel: +1 (650) 387 4956 Email

Mark McCaffery

US Technology, Media and Telecommunications (TMT) Leader Tel: +1 (408) 817 4199 Email