Modern technological advances can have a certain irony: things created to do good sometimes also cause harm. A fascinating new development in recent years is that things originally created for harm can be made useful. Drones, or unmanned air vehicles (UAVs), are an example of this. Although originally intended for combat, UAVs have been used to expand the economic sector. They are now more protected for people who inspect infrastructure and the integrity of buildings.
Data is showing that drones are soaring to new heights and their use is expected to grow substantially–and consistently–in the coming years.
In the United States, more than 1.7 million drones had been registered by January 2021. The government and private sector spent $13 billion on drones. Seed Scientific reports that drones will be used in approximately $127 billion of economic activity over the next five-years, with a 15.37% annual growth rate.
Marc Dumont, a Canadian drone pilot, is located in Alberta. Dumont was interested in drones’ potential applications for protecting the environment, as well as the ways in which they could be used in his soon-to-launch beaver control company.
“When you are working to protect land, water, and creatures, it is helpful to have a bird’s eye view of what is happening with the water and the land,” Alberta’s Marc Dumont said. “Using the drone helps me find more effective and creative solutions to problems created by beavers, like installing exclusion fences or flow devices, and determining where they should be installed. These are important tools to harness when attempting to mitigate beaver damage to an area while also preserving their lives.”
Dumont’s path to entrepreneurship is storied and involves bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Alberta before he decided to pivot, obtain his Environmental Monitoring certificate and study to become a professional beaver control specialist under the guidance and mentorship of the Beaver Institute, led by Mike Callaghan. It was an organic process to become a drone pilot, and later use that skill for his business as a beaver conflict specialist. He saw a need and a problem in his world. Like many entrepreneurs around the globe, he decided to solve it.
“Beavers were beginning to have a considerable negative impact on my property, my neighbor’s property and the municipal road leading to them, and I know that many people simply think that trapping them is an effective solution,” he said.
He said that trapping is effective for short-term situations but not long-term. However, the practice has been widely condemned as inefficient and costly.
“It took hundreds of years to almost eradicate beavers. They are resilient and we have had many decades to see the benefits they provide to ecosystems. I was keen to find a solution that recognized this, while also protecting the integrity of property – whether it be roads, homes, agricultural land and recreational properties. It is absolutely possible to co-exist with beavers and even thrive, once we become aware of the critical role these unassuming animals have in improving the natural world around us,” he said.
The drone is not only making a mark in environmental monitoring.
“What is exciting about becoming a certified drone pilot right now is that we are all getting in on the ground floor into what will be a booming industry. There is money to be made and a lot of good to be done,” Dumont said. “Many other drone pilots I know are facing a difficult choice: you eventually have to specialize, to some degree. The applications and opportunities are so endless, they feel like they are almost drowning in ideas.”
Commercial UAV News reports that drone pilots have high potential for growth in several areas, including law enforcement and thermal imaging, which is used to track suspects and search and rescue teams to find victims. They also conduct roof assessments and film and television photography.
Dumont stated that the market is full of opportunities and Dumont believes there will be more drone-based mitigation experts and engineers. This technology can provide greater precision, efficiency, and monitoring.
“My professional life could have gone in a lot of different directions,” Dumont said. “Harnessing technological advancements for the benefit of the natural world is exciting. This, I believe, is a sector that would be perfect for any environmentally conscious entrepreneur.”
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