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We’re not usually huge advocates of buzz-terms, but in the case of Industry 4.0 we’ll make an exception. Why? Because there is meaningful substance behind the term.
What does ‘Industry 4.0’ actually mean?
Like it or not, as a result of the third industrial revolution, we are all now in a world where technology is deeply ingrained in almost everything we do – it is changing the way we live our lives and the way we work.
Put simply, the term ‘Industry 4.0’ is used to describe the fourth industrial revolution; the current era, where wide-scale implementation of smart technology delivers digital transformation of industrial processes, with fundamental goals of increasing productivity and reducing cost.
What role will drone technology play in Industry 4.0?
Drones are much more than flying cameras, they are powerful data-harvesting tools that are already being used extensively, across a range of industries, to capture information that would otherwise be time-consuming, expensive, potentially hazardous, and in some cases, impossible to obtain.
An equally important part of the drone ecosystem, and one that will play a vital role in securing the technology’s place in Industry 4.0, comes in the form of drone software innovation. Such software is already being used to convert raw drone data into valuable and insightful outputs from which humans are able to make more timely, better informed, data-backed decisions. However, this goes a step further with the advent of fully autonomous drone flight and the application of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) tools, which together, have the ability to automate the entire data capture, analysis and decision-making process.
Just one real-world example of how this technology can be used is in a security application. Imagine a number of proximity sensors around the perimeter of a site that when activated, transmit a command signal to an autonomous drone that is located on the site. Based on the unique identifier of the activated sensor, the drone automatically flies to that location, decides whether or not the alarm was triggered by an intruder and if so, sends an alert to the control centre, whilst simultaneously broadcasting live video footage. Once the threat has been neutralised, the drone flies back to its base and starts recharging.
When we remind ourselves of the meaning of Industry 4.0, it’s clear to see how and why drone technology sits perfectly within it. It has the ability to automate manual processes by capturing and analysing huge volumes of data, detecting issues and anomalies, and communicating information with other machines – all without any human intervention.
In the most part, drone technology development has already reached a point that it is theoretically possible to automate a variety of industrial practices. And as regulatory frameworks around the world continue to evolve, so too will the range of applications for which drones will be considered indispensable.