Drones Are Doing More In U.S. Than You May Know, As These 3 Companies Show

Five years ago, the pundits predicted that by now we would be seeing tens of thousands of drones buzzing over our heads delivering everything from pizzas and burritos to the latest “must-have” item from Amazon. So what happened? Where are they? In a nutshell, they are here, but the general public doesn’t see them—at least not daily—and they aren’t necessarily delivering what was predicted. The fact is that commercial drones fly in remote areas or over private property every day by the thousands. They’re performing work on farms, powerlines, construction sites, cell towers, and oil pads, especially in the U.S. where there are more than 118,000 FAA-certified remote pilots. Compare that to the U.K., where there are just under 5,000. Delivering pizzas and burritos will likely be a very small part of what drones will be doing in the future. According to the largest benchmark study on commercial drones, the bulk of all current industrial use outside of film, photo and video falls into two categories: surveying and mapping land areas and inspecting and monitoring physical structures. And it’s these two uses that will continue to drive the growth of drones for industrial use for many years to come. Three companies represent this growth and are worth getting to know: PrecisionHawk, DroneDeploy and SkySkopes. In many way,s they are emblematic of the current state of the growing commercial drone industry and provide insight into its future. PrecisionHawk Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., PrecisionHawk was one of the

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What Every CIO Needs To Know About Commercial Drone Data

This post first appeared on Forbes.com as Drones Pose A Unique Big Data Challenge For Business Users The public might consider them nuisances, but in the commercial market, drones are valuable data collection devices. Their primary task is to capture, store, and transmit data. So as IT departments consider integrating more drone data into existing enterprise business processes, they face new data governance requirements. As drone technology matures, it is important to know what it means for you as the steward of your firm’s information technology and software. Drones present both a big data and an IoT challenge Up to now, the focus of commercial drone use has been on accurate data collection and visualization—not IT process integration. To be fair, applications have been developed to support verticals like agriculture, construction, energy, mining, and telecom with cloud-based services, but these applications mostly produce and serve up maps, e.g., location maps for managing and servicing company infrastructure and other assets. Just as with big data, the challenges of drone data include analysis, curation, search, sharing, storage, transfer, visualization, and information privacy. We are already beginning to see drones efficiently replace static IoT sensors with one device that is in motion and can capture multiple types of data (so not just pictures and video, but also emission gases, radio signals, geodetic data, etc.). Is drone data that unique? Like all IoT devices that are in motion, drones bring a lot of value and at the same time have a lot of challenges. For

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Evaluating the Economics of BVLOS Drone Operations

We just announced the release of our latest research on commercial drone operations. The Economics of Using Drones for BVLOS Inspections is a white paper sponsored by PrecisionHawk, the leading provider of drone technology for the enterprise, which provides a foundation for businesses to evaluate when it’s best to use traditional ground and manned aviation, line of sight drones, or BVLOS (for “beyond visual line of sight”) drone inspection approaches. It’s designed as a comprehensive primer of drone inspections in specific industries. The paper answers questions like: What’s the best way to enable an effective drone strategy? What are the economic benefits of operating drones? What are the costs, benefits, and risks of using drones for BVLOS operations? How does that compare with traditional inspection methods? Here is an excerpt: As the commercial drone industry continues to evolve, widespread BVLOS drone inspection has the potential to significantly change business models for oil and gas, utilities, insurance, and other industries. Representatives we spoke with in those industries point to four main drivers motivating them to explore BVLOS operations: Safety, as in preventing fatal helicopter crashes or accidents from having to manually climb towers to take readings; Costs, or reducing dependence on a $1,500-per-rotor-hour helicopter and personnel and even cutting the time and expense of the multiple flights needed in flying drones within visual line of sight (VLOS); Data inconsistency and lack of quality, since manual data collection sometimes involves photos taken from a helicopter traveling at speed and at different heights

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Seven Trends That Will Shape the Commercial Drone Industry in 2019

This post first appeared in Forbes In many ways, 2019 will be another big year for the commercial drone industry. Last year saw a wider rollout of the FAA’s LAANC program (the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability that provides access to controlled airspace near airports), the launch of the UAS Integration Pilot Program from the FAA, and some significant developments for new regulatory frameworks for drones in Europe and in India. This year, expect more of the same—but with a few twists. Trend 1 – Expanded business use Adoption of aerial drones and drone technology will not be as widespread as some might expect. Instead, it will grow in select industries like agriculture, construction, insurance, mining and aggregates, public safety and first responders, oil & gas, survey engineering, telecommunications and utilities. Last year, companies began to move beyond the provisional use of drones—where they were outsourcing to determine a drone program’s feasibility—to standing up or expanding internal teams to manage workflows and data. This year, expect to see reports about companies expanding their teams and adding use cases that take advantage of the waivers allowing limited beyond visual line of sight operations. Trend 2 – Slower, more steady growth The number of certified remote pilots is the benchmark for commercial drone industry growth. That’s because, almost uniformly around the world, regulations demand each drone operation have one pilot. Last year, the number of FAA-certified remote pilots grew about 50% over the previous year, to approximately 115,000. That increase was mostly made up of

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Three Forces That Shaped the Drone Industry in 2018

This was a big year for the commercial drone industry as a whole. It saw a significant increase in the business adoption, the expansion of the FAA’s LAANC program (the Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability that provides access to controlled airspace near airports), the launch of the UAS Integration Pilot Program from the FAA (aka IPP), new products like the Phantom 4 RTK from DJI, and some significant developments for new regulatory frameworks for drones in Europe and in India. In this post, I’ll illustrate some of the market trends over the past year using data from our third annual drone industry benchmark report and describe what I think shaped the drone industry. Listen to this companion Drone Radio Show podcast here for the complete assessment. If I was to distill the key forces of 2018 on the drone market into three things, I would say they are: Business adoption Vendor contraction and expansion The DJI effect Force 1 – Business adoption Adoption of aerial drones and drone technology was not widespread, but it did grow in select industries such as insurance, utilities, construction, and survey engineering, In 2018, we saw companies begin to move beyond the provisional use of drones—where they were outsourcing to determine a drone program’s feasibility–to standing up or expanding internal teams to manage workflows and data. You can see this trend, particularly in the U.S. when you realize the growth in the number of certified Part 107 remote pilots. The U.S. began the year

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