How Crowdsourcing Creates New Jobs (and Not Just for Humans)

The flying robots have arrived, and they're only getting better every year. 

They're fun to fly, but the most impactful uses of drones are in industry. Drones, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), are finding a home in many fields today, and some of them would probably surprise you.

The more you think about them, the more useful they seem – an autonomous flying robot, which can be outfitted with a variety of sensors and devices, and programmed to perform tasks without any human intervention. The cost-saving possibilities are probably endless.

Real estate is one industry where drones can have a huge impact, but have yet to really take center stage. The $100,000 Land Survey Automation Challenge is a crowdsourcing campaign to create an efficient, autonomous property survey system that lives up to the strict ALTA standards.

Property boundary surveys are one of the most tedious and costly aspects of real estate transactions. But that process could be expedited significantly, and drones could probably play a starring role.

So let's take a look at some similar situations, where drones are being used to map out different types of landscapes for a variety of different purposes.

Construction Drones

Drone use is already familiar to many construction companies. We're not talking about full-blown ALTA surveys, but drones are providing an eye in the sky that gives construction workers a convenient map to work from.

The process of planning and documenting land for construction is usually a manual process done from the ground. Big budget projects have been able to use helicopters and other aircraft, but that's not feasible for most. Drones are a fast, cost-saving alternative that can provide automated, standardized results.

Drones have a ton of potential, but there's plenty of work still to be done. It's easy to take pictures of the landscape, but the hard part is developing software to analyze it properly, letting you find the information you're looking for.

UAVs are growing in popularity everywhere, but construction is a main contender. According to a specialist with Goldman Sachs Research, drones are expected to be a $100 billion market over the next five years. Out of that, $11.2 billion is expected to go towards construction, the largest share. It's almost twice as large as the next industry, agriculture, which is also our next topic.

Farmer Drones

Farming is a lot of work. Besides the actual hard physical labor, there's a lot of preparation and planning, which includes surveying the property and keeping track of acres and acres of plants and animals.

The better information a farmer has, the better she can farm. A drone can fly over a large farm and take detailed pictures of everything, much faster than manual workers walking around counting plants.

It's not just faster – it's often better, because that aerial view can reveal patterns that you'd never see up close, like irrigation problems, variations in soil, and the presence of disease.

Agriculture drones can even plan their own flight paths, taking off and landing on their own. And they can see things that humans can't, using infrared and multispectral imaging to reveal the difference between healthy and sick plants, for example.

Their use isn't limited to monitoring farms – they're also used to spray crops with pesticide, and even shoot seeds and nutrients into the soil.

Mining Drones

The mining industry is already very aware of drones, with 27% of global mining companies looking into the use of UAVs. They're in it for the same reasons as everyone else: vastly reduced costs and time spent surveying and monitoring operations.

Besides just scouting out areas to mine, drones are also used to monitor extraction operations and inspect pipelines. They can do in hours what it would take technicians a week to accomplish. Drones outfitted with the right sensors can quickly, efficiently, and safely create 3D models, take measurements of mass and volume, and find deposits of different minerals.


The applications seem like they could be endless, with new drone species popping up pretty regularly. They promise to cut costs and make a variety of tasks far more efficient, removing the burden of manual labor wherever they're found.

The UAV hardware is here – now we just need the software. Do you have what it takes to come up with the next big drone innovation for real estate? Then check out the Land Survey Automation Challenge, offering a total of $100,000 for breakthroughs in automated property survey technology!


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