Over the last six months we have seen a great deal of change in the drone industry.
- There has been tremendous interest and growth in demand for aerial mapping utilizing drones in numerous industries including aggregates, mining, construction and solid waste businesses. In many cases drone usage has moved to mainstream processes and has replaced traditional alternatives (GPS survey crews, aerial flyovers, etc.)
- Drones used for asset inspection - cell towers, wind turbines, bridges, oil and gas pipelines, etc. and insurance inspection have also seen a pickup in interest, albeit still primarily being utilized in pilot evaluation projects as opposed to mainstream inspection processes.
- Although there has been a great deal of media discussion around drones in precision agriculture there has been very little domestic adoption to date.
- Cinematography and aerial photography, mainly for real estate marketing purposes, are also seeing high levels of demand.
To date, drone adoption in large companies has taken several forms ranging from
(i) completely outsourcing the drone program to drone service providers
(ii) to developing internal staff and resource capabilities to entirely manage internally
(iii) or a hybrid of combined external drone service provider and internal resources.
Further, we have seen many that initially were pursuing strictly an internally resourced drone program realize that the many varied skills and resources that are required for a successful drone program are very difficult to scale across an enterprise organization and have quickly moved their efforts to a hybrid model.
DroneView Technologies has grown substantially with these new opportunities and continues to add flying and photogrammetric processing resources. With our focus on accuracy, reliability, scalability, repeatability and safety we have expanded our drone fleet to further leverage both RTK and PPK mapping solutions. All indications have supported these technologies, when they are deployed correctly, providing a means to reduce, but not eliminate the need for numerous measured ground control points.
It is important to remember that while drones have many valuable uses they also have limitation in which they are not the right tool. We continue to frequently deploy piloted large format image acquisition as well as LiDAR acquisition around the United States as warranted.
DroneView Technologies released an advanced private, secure data portal for clients to view, store and share their aerial imaging and processed mapping projects.
On the technology front, drones continue to evolve with DJI expanding its lead in both the consumer and commercial markets. Sensefly eBee has emerged as the clear leader in the fixed wing, higher end drone platforms. LiDAR for drone platforms has seen little mainstream adoption as price points have remained very high. LiDAR drone pricing is falling and we expect to see more affordable LiDAR drone solutions over the next few years.
As we reach this tipping point in the drone industry, we anticipate a rosy future for the balance of 2017 and beyond with mainstream drone adoption in enterprise organizations occurring at increasing rates.