New research shows benefits will soar as Australia's drone use takes off

A new research report released today has found increasing drone use in Australia presents a range of benefits for communities – particularly for regional areas and in emergency relief and disaster management.

The report, delivered by the national centre for transport and mobility research iMOVE with the University of South Australia as the lead research partner, identifies a number of benefits as well as challenges facing drone uptake across the country.

It also provides an overview of the Australian drone sector, including an international comparison, and assesses the geographic and social drivers behind drone uptake.

The report identifies a number of industries could greatly benefit from increased drone use, including in emergency relief and disaster management, security services, freight, agriculture, last-mile deliveries, recreation and entertainment.

Australia’s emergency services sector is projected to unlock the greatest potential benefits from drones, having a net productivity increase of 10 per cent – resulting in a $460 million net boost to the national economy.

Drones can also lead to savings of between $1-8 billion if used in early fire detection, based on scenario mapping using data from the 2019–20 bushfire season.

Australia’s strong, open economy, combined with its low population density and large rural areas, creates opportunities to unlock further benefits from drone use.

This includes in regional areas, which are predicted to benefit most – particularly as drone technology continues to improve delivery and transport services.

Australia can still expect to face challenges as drone uptake grows. That includes technological limitations, such as battery life and weather resilience, as well as in-air traffic management – particularly ensuring drones aren’t flown in private or restricted areas.

The report’s consumer survey found strong public support for the use of drones in sectors such as emergency services, disaster recovery, security, agriculture and environmental management.

However, some concerns about drone technology include privacy, disturbance to wildlife, safety risks, impact on airspace and security risks.

The report also reiterated the important role of Government in supporting the uptake of drone technologies through regulation, investment, public education and impact management.

This research was jointly funded, with the Australian Government, iMOVE and the University of South Australia. The Australian Government contributed $100,000.

The full report is available at

Quotes attributable to Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government Minister Catherine King:

“As drone technology continues to evolve, research like this is critical to ensure we know the opportunities open to us – as well as the challenges.

“This report makes it clear that drones present unique opportunities for a range of different sectors to operate more cheaply, safely and in an environmentally friendly way.

“This includes in life-saving sectors such as emergency services and disaster management, where drones have the potential to help us undertake critical functions such as early fire detection – while unlocking productivity gains and economic growth.

“This capacity for change is why our Government continues to provide the regulatory, policy and other support needed to adopt new and emerging aviation technology such as drones.

“We will continue to play this important leadership role, working closely with stakeholders, to make the most of this emerging technology – in a way that best supports communities, aviation safety and the environment.”