Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – Sunset for Skylogic Research and Droneanalyst

That’s it. After five years of running Skylogic Research and the Droneanalyst blog, I’ve decided to take a sabbatical so I can discern the next adventure. Looking back, it has been quite a journey. Honestly, it’s been a lot of fun to be involved in the formation of the commercial drone industry. When I published my first post on February 2014, titled The Yellow Brick Road of FAA Drone Regulations, drones were new and the public discourse was just beginning. I thought, What better way to help others than to provide a few resource links where others could begin their journey? I remember the debate then was what to call them. Do we call them UAV, UAS, or drones? It’s funny how much people railed against the word “drones.”  But as I and others predicted, this would be the one that would stick in public discourse. The other thing I predicted (and railed against) was the damage that the overhyped forecasts would do to so many. That was in 2015. It saddens me a bit that it took until 2019 for articles like this one to point out the obvious, that the commercial market for unmanned aircraft was going to be slow to take flight and the result would be companies buying up rivals to get a decent revenue stream. Still, over the years I have been fortunate to have met so many enthusiastic and innovative entrepreneurs and business leaders. I am also grateful for the many sponsors, partners, participants,

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Making the Business Case for Your Drone Program

I am happy to announce the release of Making a Successful Business Case for Drone Technology – a blueprint for enterprises to develop a successful business case for a drone-based technology program. Produced in partnership with PrecisionHawk, this reference guide offers enterprise leaders a clear, step-by-step process to analyze, evaluate, and communicate key objectives of a drone program to ensure company-wide adoption. The guide is designed to provide specific guidance for operational managers. It covers a variety of business case topics like setting short and long-term goals, documenting costs, assessing the business impact, and communicating drone program benefits. Organized so you can consume only what you need, this guide provides a generic business case template as well as business case examples, both of which you easily adapt for your specific needs, company, and industry. Here is an excerpt: Adopting a new technology is naturally complicated—from gaining executive buy-in to implementation and training, to ensuring the technology delivers on key objectives. Process oversights, inconclusive value assessments, insufficient support from the right parties, and general delays can derail the project and de-motivate even the most experienced operational manager. A strong and complete business case can make all the difference. The purpose of a business case is to outline the rationale for adopting new technology–in this case drones–and provide a means to continually assess and evaluate the project’s progress. A good business case needs to address key concerns for executives and peers, but in general, should answer four basic questions: What is the

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Amazon’s Drone Delivery Plans: What’s Old, What’s New And When?

Amazon’s Prime Air delivery drone has some great new technology but the service faces strong and persistent regulatory hurdles. Amazon’s drone delivery service is in the news again, this time with a new drone named the “MK27.” As the latest iteration of Amazon’s Prime Air delivery drone, it’s apparently safer, more efficient, and more stable than previous models, according to Amazon’s CEO Worldwide Consumer, Jeff Wilke. Wilke also said the company expects to scale the Prime Air delivery drone quickly, with the hope that it will be able to bring packages to customers “within months.” What’s old? For some, this may sound like déjà vu, and they’d be right. In December 2013, Amazon CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos told “60 Minutes” that drones would be flying to customers’ homes within five years. But that deadline came and went due to the many regulatory and technical hurdles that drone delivery companies face. Since Amazon first announced its plan for a drone delivery service, the company has gone through more than two dozen drone designs, none of which was able to adequately avoid other aircraft, objects, or people on the ground. The Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates commercial drone use in the U.S., has approved previous Amazon drones for test flights, but each new prototype needs a special airworthiness certificate. Notwithstanding, the FAA told Forbes it has approved for Amazon one year of research and testing, allowing the company to operate its new unmanned aircraft for research and development and crew training in authorized flight areas—though not

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FAA May Be Off Target With Forecast For Threefold Growth In Commercial Drones

There’s some good information in the FAA’s new five-year Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) forecast, but there are reasons to doubt the accuracy of the agency’s projections in two areas that have captured attention: the claims that there will be roughly threefold growth in the numbers of commercial drones and UAS-certified pilots. Here’s the good, the bad, and the ugly in the report. The Good There is some good analysis in this report. For example, it seems the FAA finally gets that drones have a wide variety of price points and the bulk of commercial activity has been driven by low-cost consumer-grade aircraft: “Currently, the consumer grade dominates the non-model sector with a market share approaching 95 percent. However, as the sector matures and the industry begins to consolidate, the share of consumer grade non-model aircraft is likely to decline but will still be dominant. By 2023, FAA projects this sub-sector will have around 85 per-cent share of the overall non-model sUAS sector.” This insight is mostly consistent with independent surveys and reports like this one, which finds more than 91% said they bought drones costing over $2,000 for professional purposes—either governmental, academic, or business. The other good thing in this report is the FAA’s admission that the historical commercial drone registrations outpaced their own predictions by 80%.  Previously, they predicted a healthy growth rate of more than 40%—but they underestimated it. “Last year, we forecasted that the non-model sector would have around 229,400 sUAS in 2019, a growth rate exceeding 44 percent

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Three Essentials for Building Public Safety and First Responder Drone Programs

Increasing use of drones surfaces three best practices for state and local police, sheriffs, fire departments, and teams in EMS, search and rescue, tactical response, and disaster response.   I just released two new drone industry guides titled Three Essentials For Building Your Law Enforcement Drone Program and Three Essentials For Building Your Fire and Rescue Drone Program. These are the first in a series of papers intended to share the latest lessons learned in specific industries and how to sustain and grow a drone program. These guides offer essential best practices for law enforcement and fire and rescue teams. They answer questions like: What have current users learned about what works and what doesn’t? What are the most important topics to know to keep your drone program ongoing? And where should you go to learn what’s next? Here is an excerpt from the law enforcement guide: Essential 1 – Take advantage of the latest technology New technology is progressing rapidly in drones and aerial imaging processing—more rapidly and at lower costs than manned-based aviation solutions. It is important to keep up with the changes that could benefit your program. Nearly every week, a new product is announced. Two of the most exciting recent developments are smaller combination sensors and augmented reality. The new sensors, like the one found on the DJI Mavic Enterprise Dual, combine visible and thermal imagery in one sensor. Multiple display modes allow you to see either the infrared or the visible image or a combination.

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