Skies Without Limits v2.0

A refreshed look at how drones could impact the UK’s economy, jobs, productivity and quality of life.

Drones have the potential to make a significant impact on UK productivity but there is much to do to realise this.
Our 2018 report “Skies Without Limits” (SWL1) described the potential for drones to positively impact the UK economy. Four years on, and in collaboration with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Department for Transport (DfT), we have revisited the report.

Drones offer public and private organisations an opportunity to carry out tasks faster, safer, cheaper and with less impact on the environment than traditional methods. This report focuses on these types of drone operations, which we refer to as “Commercial Drones”, excluding drones used by hobbyists, drones used to transport passengers and counter-drone solutions.

This report builds on the SWL1 report to assess the potential impact of drones on economic output, jobs and emissions. It uses a similar “best case” drone adoption curve to the SWL1 report and estimates that, by 2030:

  • Drones could contribute up to £45bn to the UK economy
  • More than 900,000 drones could operate in the UK’s skies
  • £22bn in net cost savings may be realised
  • Carbon emissions could be reduced by 2.4M tons
  • 650,000 jobs could be associated with an economy that fully adopts drones

The “Unlocking Drone Potential” section of the report considers the areas that must be addressed to maximise the impact of drones in the UK and covers:

  • Perception
  • Drone implementation
  • Technology
  • Regulation
  • Skills

Case studies

Drones are making a difference “right now” and these compelling solutions must be scaled up and enhanced to realise the 2030 projections in this report. The report explores the impact of drones in each sector and presents some inspirational case studies which illustrate the potential for drone transformation. The majority of the case studies feature exciting UK startups and forward-thinking entities, evidencing the UK’s ability to innovate and drive change in both the private and public sector. Many of the case studies feature innovation and close collaboration with the UK regulator and pave the way for a future where we enjoy the benefits of Routine BLVOS (Beyond Visual Line Of Site) Flight.

There are 13 case studies, covering use cases as diverse as BVLOS methane detection in the North Sea to delivery of coffee in Ireland. What they have in common is:

  • Flying in a “business as usual” mode, with either paying customers or forming a core part of public services
  • Delivering tangible benefits (faster, safer, cheaper, better for the environment) “right now”
  • Have only “scratched the surface” and there is considerable potential for growth
Case study Use case Organisation
Food, Parcel and Medical “Last Mile” Delivery - Could We Go A Little Faster? Delivery - Last mile Manna
New Logistics Using Existing Infrastructure To Connect Communities Delivery - Cargo/middle mile Windracers
Highlight Accurate Drones Keeping Passengers And Engineers Safe and Minimising Commuting Delays Survey - Rail Plowman Craven
The Criticality of Integrating Drones with Business As Usual Data Cyberhawk / Dronecloud
Teaming Manned and Unmanned to Deliver Effective Search and Rescue in UK Waters Search and Rescue Maritime and Coastguard Agency
Faster, Safer And Cheaper Building Inspection Inspection - Building  CPC / Renfrewshire Council
Rapid Response At Times of Environmental Crisis  Flood Response Environment Agency
Remote Piloting Paving the Way for Autonomous BVLOS  Remote piloting
Deploying BVLOS Solutions in a Mature Drone Market BVLOS - Oil and Gas  Flylogix
Reducing Leaks With Smart Solutions Leak detection in the water industry Team UAV
Automating Traditional Agricultural Practices  Agriculture  Autospray Systems / Drone Ag
Why Send a Human to Do a Drone’s Job? Drone-in-a-box surveillance Herotech8
Digital Transformation in Stockpile Auditing Drones in Audit PwC
Skies without limits v2.0
A refreshed look at how drones could impact the UK’s economy, jobs, productivity and quality of life
Download the full report

Contact us

Euan Cameron

Euan Cameron

UK Artificial Intelligence and Drones Leader, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7802 438423

Craig Roberts

Craig Roberts

Head of Drones, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7771 930482

Joanne Murray

Joanne Murray

UK Drones Audit Lead, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7525 281052

Ben Evans

Ben Evans

UK Drones, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7742 457634

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