Drone Innovation: the Need for a Growing UAV Market

August 31, 2018 Apurva Godbole, Drona Aviation

When you mention drones, people generally imagine a flying quadrotor shooting photos and videos. Technically speaking though, any unmanned vehicle (terrestrial, marine or aerial) qualify as a drone. But the amazement around flying objects caught people’s attention and drones became synonymous with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). What made them so much more popular are not only their eye-catching flights but the tremendous potential they hold when it comes to applications and economic value. And where there is economic potential, capital follows.

Today, many companies are serving the drone applications’ space. There are broadly four categories in which these can be classified. It begins with drone makers and manufacturers - companies like DJI, 3DR, Yuneec and others. These continuously bring out newer hardware to work with and bring out a new drone every 12 to 15 months. These were one of the earliest companies in the industry right after the defense companies made drone tech accessible to civilian companies. These companies have come a long way from the first prototype that developers started tinkering with. They are also the ones reaching out to consumers and hobbyists directly.

Then you have software companies focused on building drone applications. These include companies like Airware (which has a big software component), Flytbase and many others. They build software platforms compatible with most hardware out there and focus on the use cases (primarily micro-drone and imaging/surveillance based). These bring in a lot of intelligence to the data that drones keep collecting while flying.

The third category are the companies that operate on the ground. Companies that provide turnkey services to industrial customers. Services like land surveying, agricultural data for precision farming, aerial cinematography services and aerial mapping. These are driven by large companies in evolved markets and driven by freelancers in nascent markets. In fact, these are the companies that will bring in digital revolution in areas like farming not generally identified with being data driven. Not only that, drone applications for land surveying will reduce the cost and time required, especially in developed economies, and bring in a lot of transparency for some of the nascent drone using economies.

And there is the fourth category of companies/communities in the drone space. Those who want to tinker around with drones. Sometimes, just for fun and sometimes with focused mission in mind. Many of them open source their work to the world. This is the community that will bring new possibilities to the realm of drones. Think of drones in warehousing, drones in fire-fighting, lifeguarding drones, hazardous gas sensing drones and many others. These are presently in the idea stage but need the curiosity and creativity of a tinkerer to make it happen.

Drone applications today are where the internet was 20 years ago. As per a PwC report, the drone market is estimated to be $127 billion in the coming few years. It is the third and the fourth category of companies/communities that will build this market and bring in a lot of new jobs in the coming years as well as help the companies in the first two categories scale up fast.

The question we should be asking ourselves is: are we ready to innovate with drones?

As tinkerers and drone front-runners in India, we’re answering that with PlutoX: the aerial robotics kit that quickly turns drone ideas into innovations. This comprehensive kit made for beginners, makers and pros is now live on Indiegogo but needs your encouragement to truly help us expose drones to experiments across the world. Please support us so we can prepare for the next big drone wave!

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