How Drones Are Transforming Business

New drone technologies will reshape many industries including farming, surveying, filmmaking and newsgathering.

U.S. businesses can’t wait to put drones to work. At Kiplinger, we expect the government to set rules that will allow commercial use of small drones, say, under 55 pounds, in the next year or two. When that happens, look for a new business sector, worth billions and employing thousands, to take off, literally.

Here are some industries eager to take advantage of drones.

For farmers, the ability to check on acres and acres of crops from above is a huge improvement over trudging through fields of crops. Drones will let them spot early signs of pests or stress. Further down the road, larger drones will be cleared to deliver needed chemicals to the plants with pinpoint accuracy. In Japan, the Yamaha RMAX drone has been doing this on steep rice fields and other locations for decades now.

Subscribe to Kiplinger’s Personal Finance

Be a smarter, better informed investor.

Save up to 74%

Sign up for Kiplinger’s Free E-Newsletters

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice on investing, taxes, retirement, personal finance and more - straight to your e-mail.

Profit and prosper with the best of expert advice - straight to your e-mail.

Sign up

Now that even a small drone can carry a high-resolution camera, television news directors everywhere are dying to add an unmanned “eye in the sky.” Celebrities and others may object to the overhead media attention, but news gatherers won’t be shy. Same goes for filmmakers. Drones have already been used overseas to shoot movie scenes.

For mapmakers and surveyors, drones are the biggest thing since, well, global positioning. Drones will take GPS to another level. By following a programmed track while flying, drones can mark precise GPS locations on the images they collect. And boom, you’ve got an instant map of an area that might be difficult or even dangerous to cross by foot and vehicle. Trimble Navigation has a winged drone, the UX5, that can perform this function, even in bad weather.

But that’s not all these little flying machines are capable of. Read How Drones Will Transform These Six Industries to learn even more.

David Muhlbaum
Former Senior Online Editor

In his former role as Senior Online Editor, David edited and wrote a wide range of content for With more than 20 years of experience with Kiplinger, David worked on numerous Kiplinger publications, including The Kiplinger Letter and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. He co-hosted  Your Money's Worth, Kiplinger's podcast and helped develop the Economic Forecasts feature.