The impact of drones on society
In the Netherlands the number of drones within the five investigated sectors is expected to grow from approximately 2,460 in 2019 to 11,230 in 2050. The investigated sectors are: agriculture, energy and infrastructure, security, delivery and mobility.
In the agriculture and security sector, the number of drones is expected to increase relatively quickly from 2019 onwards. In these sectors the technology for using drones is already available. Moreover, social acceptance of drone usage within the agriculture and security sector is high. In the delivery and mobility sector, on the other hand, drone usage gains momentum only after 2030. One of the reasons being that the technology to transport packages or people with drones is still under development.
In the Netherlands, the economic impact of drones within the five investigated sectors is expected to increase from 103 – 176 million euros in 2019 to 374 – 805 million euros in 2050. Drone services account for the largest part of the economic impact. After all, the services and insight drones offer are the ultimate reason why drones are used.
In 2025, the agriculture and security sector are expected to account for a major part of the economic impact of drones. From 2035 onwards, drones generate substantial economic impact in the security and infrastructure sector. In 2050, a relatively large part of the economic impact is created in the delivery and mobility sector.
In addition to generating economic impact, drone usage also give rise to external effects on climate and living environment. Our research shows that drones avert substantial CO2 emissions by replacing polluting alternatives. Drone usage also results in safety benefits. The reason being that hazardous inspections can be executed by a drone instead of by an inspector. Moreover, drones are able to inspect locations that inspectors cannot reach themselves. As a result, the quality of the inspection improves and more calamities can be prevented.
In a number of sectors drone usage causes undesirable side effects. These side effects mainly occur when drones are used in the vicinity of civilians. The main side effects are: visual hindrance, crashing danger and privacy breaches.
The use of drones increased significantly in the Netherlands in recent years. However, the impact of drone usage for the Netherlands is still unclear. For that reason, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management commissioned SEO Amsterdam Economics, Decisio and To70 to conduct an exploratory study into the potential social and economic value of the Dutch drone market.
The economic impact of drones for the Netherlands is estimated using the methodology of SESAR (2016). SESAR is a study that assesses drone usage and the resulting economic impact for the European Union until 2050. Like SESAR, we first estimate the expected future drone usage with the economic theory of the product life cycle. Subsequently, we estimate the economic impact of drones based on assumptions from SESAR. These assumptions are surrounded by a great deal of uncertainty. For that reason, the economic impact reported in this study is not a precise estimate, but indicates the order of magnitude of the impact.
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