According to Southern Maryland Online, Top Flight Digital Media LLC, a Frederick, MD, company that conducts cell tower inspections, is one of many companies that have found a practical use for the controversial technology.
Top Flight’s owner, Shaun Capps, said that worker safety was a primary reason that his company decided to make the investment. Cell tower inspections used to be done manually, and substituting tower inspectors for drones eliminates the risk of on-the-job accidents.
“I am former Navy, and we haven’t done some of the safest things known to man,” said Capps. “When I was in, one of the things was that it has to be a safer and better way of doing things. And I kind of wanted to keep that in the back of my mind whenever I am doing anything.”
In addition to enhanced safety, procuring the drones has also allowed Capp’s company to save money on wages. The average hourly pay of Maryland tower inspectors is more than $28, and while drones can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $40,000, Capp thinks that improvements in technology will eventually reduce costs, making them a worthwhile investment.
Companies are constantly on the lookout for innovative ways to save money, and Top Flight’s use of drones is certainly an out-of-the-box way to cut expenses. Typically, businesses tend to invest in energy-efficient products like solar panels or a metal roof, which can help save as much as 25% off of annual energy bills.
Oddly enough, this isn’t the only notable drone sighting throughout Maryland in the past month. According to Popular Mechanics, a local crabber recently stumbled upon a five foot-long, 80-pound drone during a recent boat ride through the bay.
As it turns out, the drone was a Remus 100 AUV that belonged to defense firm Northrop Grumman. The company was testing out sonar equipment with the massive drone, which is worth between $50,000 and $250,000. David Haas, the crabber who found the drone, returned it to Northrop Grumman’s office after hoisting it out of the water.
Although Top Flight’s drones aren’t quite that expensive, Capp added that the registration process was a major obstacle in using them for inspections. While recreational users can fly drones without any regulation, drone laws for businesses are much stricter.
Despite these regulations, drone use throughout the country is beginning to increase by leaps and bounds. By the end of next year, the drone industry is projected to be worth $13.8 billion, supplying over 200,000 new jobs in the first year alone.