Drones, defined as "unmanned aircraft or ship guided by remote control or onboard computers," are becoming more than just high-tech toys. Armed with high-definition cameras and other tools, they are being used in industries from real estate to agriculture. For commercial painters, drones are a potentially useful tool that could survey painting sites, protect worker safety, and even perform painting tasks.
Disney Research has developed the PaintCopter, a painting drone that uses 3D mapping to accurately apply paint. Apellix's Worker Bee is a similar project, an autonomous painting and cleaning drone born out of a homeowner's frustration with the difficulties of painting his house. Both the Worker Bee and the PaintCopter are still in development.
The drones currently on the market are used for surveying sites before and after painting to assess paint conditions. These kinds of unmanned surveys can improve worker safety by identifying hazards and reporting on difficult sites before painting begins.
While the painting drones currently in research and production stages are still rudimentary in terms of accuracy, they have the potential to apply paint better than human workers. That's because a drone's onboard computer could analyze the exact components of the paint it's using and make calculations to apply it at the right distance and volume.
A major selling point of commercial painting drones is worker safety. If workers can stay on the ground and monitor the drone's performance, rather than using scaffolding and ladders to access hazardous painting sites, they face much less risk in their work. Additionally, drones could be used to apply potentially harmful substances or paint in enclosed spaces that are dangerous to workers.
Increased efficiency and reduced costs are another potential benefit of using drones in commercial painting. Setting up scaffolding and other equipment for a painting crew takes time, and that time would be greatly reduced by using drones.
The advances of drones in commercial painting might worry professional painters, but experts say workers in the commercial paint industry aren't going to be replaced by drones anytime soon. With the number of complicated factors involved in getting drones to paint reliably (wind issues, power sources, and more), many jobs are still only feasible for skilled humans. It's likely that drones and human painters will work together in the future, with drones handling large expanses and hard to reach surfaces, and humans filling in edges and corners that require more precision. There will also be jobs created as skilled workers are needed to manage the drones.
Drones are still slowly making their way into the industry, but we're excited to see how it can further improve painting work. Until then, contact our professional painters today to learn more about the painting industry and for all your commercial painting needs.