While the government has been using unmanned drones for years, projections show that the drone business is about to take off in the private sector.
The industry that stands to benefit the most: agriculture.
"There’s no question, it’s the wave of the future,” said Kevin Price, a professor of agronomy at Kansas State University.
Unmanned drones are quickly becoming a farmer’s best friend. Flying over crops, they can collect images, quickly relaying the condition of a farmer’s harvest-- down to a single plant.
"You can fly a section of land (1) mile by (1) mile, or 640 acres, in about 18 minutes with 1-inch resolution,” said Price. "It’s just an easy way to quickly identify issues in the field."
Plant disease or issues with a crop could be diagnosed quicker, potentially saving farmers’ money and time. The idea has already caught on in parts of the country, and while there are regulations, the Federal Aviation Administration is on board with the idea. Drones can be found online and in hobby stores for a relatively cheap price. Meanwhile, businesses are looking to market and capitalize on the potential goldmine in the agriculture industry.
"Agriculture has 10 times more applications than any other areas in unmanned aircraft systems,” said Price.
Agriculture is slated to account for 80 percent of the forecast $1 billion drone industry.
Drones are just one of many innovations that are being showcased at the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. The event continues through Jan. 15.