West Yorkshire is the drone capital of the North

West Yorkshire is the drone capital of the North

UK businesses making increasing use of unmanned drones, with an estimated half a million using them for commercial purposes, according to a new report.

A study of 3,045 UK adults by, one of the UK’s leading drones retailers, led to the publication of The UK Drone Usage Report 2016, which estimates that 586,430 Britons have used drones for commercial purposes.

The report revealed that across the North of England, drone sales per capita are highest in West Yorkshire in general and Leeds in particular. York and Preston were also highlighted as having high levels of drone sales.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) are being put to work in an increasing number of commercial situations, such as filming, surveying landscapes, and product delivery. The media industry is leading the uptake of their use – most commonly using them for taking aerial photography or videography.

Facilities management firms ranked in second place for commercial drone usage, with Mitie having recently unveiled plans to use drones for accessing problems such as pest control in high rise buildings.

Oil and utilities companies are also driving drone uptake. Firms such as BP and Shell currently use UAVs to inspect off-shore oil rigs and pipelines. This trend is mirrored under water, where Autonomous Underwater Vehicles are used for inspection and other light tasks.

Agriculture has also been quick to incorporate the remote flying technology into their processes, including assessing crop growth, and distributing pesticides and fertilisers.

The emergency services have also been incorporating drone technology into rescue operations. UAVs can provide alternative angles from which to access and observe crime scenes and can be used to access the safety of hazardous sites.

Surveillance is amongst the most common commercial uses of drones, following photography. More than one in five (21%) is using a drone for security purposes in the workplace.

Delivery is anticipated to be the largest area of growth for commercial drone usage ahead of the launch of Amazon’s Prime Air parcel delivery service, and plans by Royal Mail and DHL to do similar.

The UK is a popular base for developing and testing commercial applications of UAVs. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has also recently relaxed several of the current regulations surrounding UK drone usage for commercial trials, in response to requests from Amazon to trial its Prime Air delivery service, including the operation of vehicles without direct line of sight and the uses of anti-collision technology.

Tim Morley, category manager at, said, “It’s great to see businesses incorporating drones into their day-to-day practices to not only make processes simpler and more efficient, but also offer new services.

“The recent change in CAA regulations shows they are open to working with businesses to identify how best these exciting technologies can be applied, encouraging drone usage within a commercial environment, to bring an array of new benefits to consumers and businesses. We anticipate even more businesses using drones following the recent change in rules from the CAA.

“Drones are already being used around the world for deliveries of consumer products, providing humanitarian aid, and security - with support from the CAA, Britain can be at the forefront of the development for business and industry. continued aerial technology development.”

You can read the UK Drone usage report here.