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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Measuring Success in the Drone Market

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” – Peter Drucker The $118M Airware failure is a cautionary tale for all potential commercial drone investors—as well as all existing commercial drone market participants. To avoid such failure—whether you are drone aircraft manufacturer, software vendor, service provider, business enterprise, investor, or public agency—you need the most reliable market data possible—not just best guesses. I still believe the #1 misconception in the drone industry is how fast it will grow, which sectors will grow, and which ones will lag. As early as 2014, we wrote about this problem and warned about using unreliable data to measure the potential market for drones. Back then I said drone market forecasts abound. At that time there were 22 independent companies providing market forecasts, and each of them projected growth for the drone or unmanned aerial system (UAS) sector that was nothing short of phenomenal. Today there are 84, most still projecting remarkable growth. Our observations: We see a lack of objective information on drone industry market segments. We find there’s an absence of credible market-based research. We see little understanding of the difference between large industry forecasts and actual business user adoption rates. Example of success Despite the big disconnect, there are some big success stories in dronelandia—successes that can be attributed in great part to managing with good data. Take DroneDeploy, for example. They report over 30,000 users that log over 65,000 flights per month. These users have mapped over 250,000 sites and

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New Report Benchmarks Drone Industry and Refutes Hyperbole

We just released the results of our third annual drone industry benchmark survey and it’s a kicker. The 2018 Drone Market Sector Report examines worldwide drone sales, service providers, business and public agency users, and software services. This independent research, which is sponsored by DJI, DroneDeploy, DroneInsurance.com, and Trimble, finds a growing demand for businesses to use drone-acquired data in their day-to-day operations as well as other fresh insights on major drone industry segments. Research Our online market survey garnered over 2,500 respondents representing over 60 industries worldwide. Our analysis yields 10 key insights that summarize the current state of the industry, plus detailed analysis of drone adoption by businesses and enterprises. Report The 107-page report presents the results and analyses from each survey question. It’s organized to match our survey, with four sections that correspond to the four major segments of the drone industry: Drone aircraft and payloads purchased Service providers that offer drone-based imaging or sensing services for outside hire or sale Businesses and public agencies with drone programs Software apps or online services for drone operations and imaging The report features more than 60 helpful figures and tables and offering insight and analysis on: Who’s buying what types of drones from which makers at what prices and for what uses. How large the drone-based service providers are, and how they position themselves to their target industries. Who the business users of drone-based projects are, and which industries have traction. How much service providers, business users, and public agencies

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Commercial Drones and GDPR: What You Need to Know

Assessing what GDPR means for commercial drone hardware and software vendors, service providers, and enterprise users. By Colin Snow and Charlotte Ziems Have you noticed an increase in the number of emails lately that say “we have updated our privacy policies and terms of service”? It’s not just the big players like Amazon, Apple, Google, and YouTube, it’s just about everyone – and for good reason. They’re all preparing for May 25, 2018, when new regulations go into effect that apply to personally identifiable data they collect on citizens of the European Union. Disclaimer: Nothing in this post should be interpreted as legal advice—you alone are responsible for GDPR compliance and should consult legal counsel to do so. We’ll assess only the basic GDPR concepts you should know, and at a high level. So let’s start with the basics. What is GDPR? On May 25, 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will go into effect to protect the rights of Europeans to access and control their personal data. This means any brand that collects and processes the personal data of individuals in the European Union, regardless of that brand’s location, needs to comply with GDPR requirements by the May deadline. Note that the laws are still being interpreted and definitions changing, so you’ll want to pay attention. What are the important GDPR requirements? The right to be informed, or being transparent about what you collect and how you use it (Article 12, 13, and Article 14 number 11)

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