Posts tagged "Drone Regulations"

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 for each flight—which leads to inconsistency—or hand-written notes taken while visually inspecting with binoculars—which leads to imprecise or poor quality data;
  • Time to value, meaning that BVLOS flight can cover a wide area and collect high-quality data much more quickly than traditional means, so, for example, insurance claims of total loss can be indemnified faster.

The 21-page report also provides a guide for when—and how—to deploy drones to inspect assets, use cases for how drone missions compare with traditional methods, and insight from PrecisionHawk’s customers about how they’re refining their inspection strategy—and their results.

You can register to get the free report here: http://bit.ly/2Rn8z6y

Image credit: PrecisionHawk

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 pilots who work for companies, enterprises or public agencies with internal drone programs as opposed to pilots who operate for drone-based service providers. It’s clear that commercial industries are now driving growth rather than individual interest as in years past.

One thing to keep in mind when looking at FAA numbers is that the month-over-month growth rate is beginning to slow. That may worsen given the current partial U.S. Government shutdown, which will delay the grant of new certificates. It may also slow further because some drone-based service providers who are not making money (most aren’t) will choose not to re-certify as a remote pilot.

Trend 3 – Further vendor consolidation

Much of the industry’s growth so far has come from the early hype about how drones were going to “transform” industries as well as huge forecasts that fueled investment. Over the years, we’ve seen those dreams turn to smoke as vendors like 3D Robotics and GoPro fell out of the sky. Last year was no exception. The $118M collapse of Airware and the release of Parrot’s disappointing financial results give us a glimpse into what will come.

Still, there is good news, and you can expect more moves like PrecisionHawk’s acquisitions as vendors seek leadership positions in key industries and secure new revenue streams.

Trend 4 – Public distrust and civil liability

Despite the benefits of commercial drone use, the general public still has concerns about drones with regards to safety, security, privacy and public nuisance. After the Gatwick debacle, expect more headlines in 2019 of unauthorized drone sightings and the coming drone apocalypse. In many ways these stories hurt legitimate commercial operators who often need to gain permission from reluctant land owners so they can perform inspections and survey maps for infrastructure unreachable by other means.

Here in the U.S., there is another tea kettle about to boil over. A little-known but highly influential group known as the Uniform Law Commission (ULC) will continue to work on a proposed “Tort Law Relating to Drones Act,” which concerns drones and privacy. If their proposal is adopted by states, we could see an arbitrary line drawn 200 feet in the sky that would establish a new aerial trespass zone giving property owners the right to establish no-fly zones. Right now, their draft goes much further than any existing state or federal law and, if enacted, would create a complicated patchwork of differing state laws that inhibit commercial operations. Until then, expect to see more local and state laws like this one in Pennsylvania aiming to protect people’s privacy from drones.

Trend 5 – More regulation – maybe

Some predict 2019 will be the year the FAA finally implements a requirement for remote identification for all drones, recreational and commercial, flying in the U.S. It’s expected this will be combined with a new rule for flights over people for small drones. But there is a big difference between the FAA proposing a rule (called the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking or NPRM) and that rule becoming law. The difference can be anywhere from six to nine months. So it’s likely we’ll see a proposed rule, but implementation will be like Waiting for Godot.

To be clear, Drone ID is not a slam dunk, and the specifics of the ID signature are still being debated within the FAA. Even so, Drone ID needs to exist for Unmanned Traffic Management (aka UTM) to become a reality. UTM should help enable some of the most talked-about use cases for drones, from package delivery to aerial taxi services, but don’t expect this first iteration of remote ID to live up to the headlines or vendor expectations of a global autonomous drone network – as that would ignore the arduous political processes in each country or region to make UTM even possible.

Trend 6 – DJI’s continued dominance

SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. (a.k.a. DJI), a Chinese company, continues to dominate the market and has made gains this year in every product category, from drone aircraft at all price ranges, to add-on payloads, to software. Recent survey data shows DJI is still the dominant brand for drone aircraft purchases, with a 74% global market share. Much of DJI’s dominance can be attributed to its aggressive product development, technological advancements and partner development in the enterprise channel. Last year, the company released two new series of enterprise products (Phantom 4 RTK and Mavic 2 Enterprise) that target industrial users. It’s safe to predict their leadership will continue given their strategic investment with Hasselblad, their recent investment in an R&D facility in Palo Alto, California, and their partners in the enterprise space such as Microsoft.

Trend 7 – Sensors, software, and AI advancements

Along with the new imaging sensor integration announcements in 2019 (such as smaller, more lightweight LiDAR), expect to see imaging software advancements as companies seek to combine RGB, thermal imaging, orthomosaic, and data from IoT sensors. More aerial imaging and mapping software firms will likely announce artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. Right now, most of this is cloud-based machine learning (a.k.a. deep learning and predictive analytics), where datasets are trained by specialized teams. Already, there are some drone-based AI solutions for image recognition/machine vision, but it’s still early in the technology development cycle and AI is near peak hype.

Some big news for 2019 could be workflow integration of drone data and workflow into predictive maintenance and service solutions, as well as enterprise asset management systems such as those from IBM, INFOR, Oracle and SAP. Capabilities could include documentation, tracking and GIS data integration. That may bring a yawn to some, but when you can connect the dots and show the effect of drone data on the balance sheet, CFOs and CEOs will take notice and drive further enterprise adoption

Image credit: Mark Kauzlarich/Bloomberg

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:

  1. Business adoption
  2. Vendor contraction and expansion
  3. 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 with about 74K certified remote pilots, and as of the end of November, we had about 112.5K. So we’ve added about 38,500 pilots this year. That’s a 50% increase over last year.

The thing about this increase is that it’s mostly pilots who work for companies, enterprises, or public agencies with internal drone programs.  We saw this trend in the data from our annual benchmark survey conducted over the summer.

Force 2 – Vendor contraction and expansion

There were some winners and losers this year in the race to gain more customers and satisfy investors.

Probably the biggest contraction story was the $118M collapse of Airware. Fortunately, Delair acquired Airware’s software solution, which ensures the continuity of service for existing customers and dealers. The agreement also included keeping the team from construction and mining specialist Redbird, which Airware initially bought in 2016.

The other contraction was from Parrot. Earlier in the year, Parrot released its ANAFI work drone for the commercial drone market. But then just last month, Parrot’s CEO announced disappointing financial results because of what he called “a significant consumer drone market contraction.” Suffice it to say they are running on thin cash flow, and it will be interesting to see if there will be a right-sizing of Parrot and its affiliates like senseFly and Pix4D in 2019.

Another big move this year was PrecisionHawk’s acquisitions of both HAZON and InspecTools. These businesses specialize in inspection services and technology for the energy sector. They bring PrecisionHawk the domain expertise that will enable tighter integration between collecting and analyzing drone data—something customers want. We think these acquisitions position PrecisionHawk as a leading service provider for companies wanting to perform asset inspections—specifically those companies in the oil & gas, insurance, and utility industries that need beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations. If you recall, PrecisionHawk was part of the FAA’s Pathfinder Program, so they have extensive experience in BVLOS ops.

Force 3—The DJI effect

You can’t talk about the drone industry without mentioning market leader DJI. The company continues to dominate the market and has made gains this year in every category, from drone aircraft at all price ranges, to add-on payloads, to software. Our survey data shows DJI is still the dominant brand for drone aircraft purchases, with a 74% global market share in sales across all price points.

DJI’s current global market share is two percentage points higher than it was last year (72%), and is a significant change from 2016, which showed them with 50% market share.

On that note, many industry and UAS news pundits speculated that security concerns about DJI small drone aircraft would be the death knell for DJI (a China-based company), but clearly these fears did not affect their sales. To stem concerns about DJI’s data security practices, the company hired a forensic investigation company, Kivu Consulting, Inc., to independently review DJI’s UAV data transmission and storage practices. Kivu’s analysis of the drones and the flight control system (drone, hardware controller, GO 4 mobile app) concluded that users have control over the types of data DJI drones collect, store, and transmit.

As I’ve have noted in our report, much of DJI’s dominance can be attributed to its aggressive product development, technological advancements, and partner development in the enterprise channel. DJI’s leadership role existed as early as 2015, when we looked at FAA data on commercial drone registrations. The company continues to release new product after new product, and it leads other manufacturers with technology and enterprise ecosystem partnerships.

We predicted last year that this would continue well into the future, given their current lead, their strategic partnership investment with Hasselblad, their recent investment in an R&D facility in Palo Alto, California, and the continuation of their AirWorks Conference enterprise partner ecosystem event.

That’s it for now. Look for a follow-up piece on our specific predictions for 2019, which will include investments, technology improvements, ecosystem partnerships, and software innovations.

Listen to the companion podcast here: http://bit.ly/2EynyIY

If you have questions about what’s in the report I mention or would like to comment, write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: Shutterstock

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)
  • The right of access, or allowing individuals to see what personal data you’re processing and storing (Article 15)
  • The right to rectification, or allowing individuals to have their personal data corrected (Article 16)
  • The right to erasure, also known as the right to be forgotten (Article 17)
  • The right to restrict processing, or allowing individuals to stop you from performing operations (collecting, processing, storing, etc.) on personal data (Article 18)
  • The right to data portability, or giving individuals the personal data you have about them (Article 20)
  • The right to object, or prevent you from processing their personal data (Article 21)

Why should you care?

Depending on the nature of the infringement, fines for noncompliance can range from between €10 million and €20 million, or between 2% and 4% of your worldwide annual revenue of the prior financial year, whichever is higher.

Do those in the commercial drone industry need to be GDPR compliant?

That depends. If you have any clients, or have contacts, or perform work in the EU, then yes. The regulation applies when you collect, store, and process data or images that constitutes someone’s “personal data” (such as names, email addresses, phone numbers, etc.), or “personal identifiable information” (such as aerial images of and georeferences to persons).

Who in the commercial drone market might it apply to?

  • Agriculture – probably not those collecting agricultural data, since that type of data rarely attaches personally identifiable information (or personal data) of an individual.
  • Film / Photo / Video – it definitely applies to drone wedding photographers, real estate photographers, film companies, and any other commercial service. GPDR states that pictures containing peoples that can be identified are to be considered personal information and must be handled with care. Unless you are using the pictures for news or art, you must have a consent from the person giving you permission to publish the picture.
  • Inspecting and monitoring – probably not those collecting data on structures (such as towers, transmission lines, or oil rigs), since it rarely attaches personally identifiable information (or personal data) to an individual, but definitely yes to those performing site monitoring where individuals can be tagged or identified.
  • GIS (mapping and surveying) – it depends on the downstream use of the data you collect. You are in the chain of custody and custodians may need to generalize or filter identifiable features or patterns of people from geospatial information.
  • Cloud-based data services – same as GIS. You are in the chain of custody and may need to filter information; otherwise, your risk is high.

Where can you go to find out more information?

GDPR:

Agriculture:

Photographers:

GIS (Mapping and Survey):

GIS and cloud data services:

Image credit: Shutterstock and Skylogic Research

FILE PHOTO: Drones enthusiasts and spectators gather at the 4th Intergalactic Meeting of Phantom’s Pilots (MIPP) in an open secure area in the Bois de Boulogne, western Paris, March 16, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Europe’s first ever rules on drones, which were tentatively agreed three weeks ago, risk being scuppered as EU governments hesitate over endorsing the deal because of their opposition to a drone registration requirement, among other issues.

European Union lawmakers and member states finally struck a tentative deal on a long-awaited reform of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Nov. 30, which also includes rules requiring owners of drones to register their devices if “dangerous”.

Such deals then need to be definitively endorsed by member states in the Council of the EU and lawmakers in the European Parliament before becoming law, something which is usually a formality.

Member states were supposed to endorse the EASA reform on Wednesday, but the vote was put off when several countries, including France and Germany, expressed major concerns about elements of the deal, such as the registration requirement for drones with a kinetic energy of more than 80 joules based on their mass and maximum speed.

A spokeswoman for Estonia, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said member states had until Friday to analyze the final text and say whether they could endorse it.

If the EASA reform is not endorsed it risks derailing the project for months to come as negotiations between the parliament and member states will have to start almost from scratch, over two years after the initial proposal was made.

The risk of the deal falling apart has unleashed a wave of lobbying from both the aerospace industry and pilots.

“The emerging market of civil drones, including small as well as larger certified category of drones, has many potentials for the EU aeronautical industry. It is therefore crucial that EASA has received the mandate to put in place the safety regulatory framework for the deployment of this new technology,” the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe said in a statement ahead of Wednesday’s meeting.

Members include plane manufacturer Airbus, Safran, BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

Member states had opposed a registration requirement for drones throughout the negotiations, and the European Parliament had initially pushed for a registration threshold of 250 grams.

Many countries fear the 80 joules threshold is too complicated and are not happy with the compromise.

“I don’t think there is one happy member state around the table,” said one person involved in the discussions.

The German pilots union wrote to the German transport minister on Tuesday urging him to endorse the EASA deal.

“Any delay through further negotiations – as some countries are apparently envisaging – would clearly not be in the interest of aviation safety,” wrote Ilja Schulz, President of the Vereinigung Cockpit union.

(Reporting by Julia Fioretti, editing by David Evans)

Last year at this time, I reflected back on the news and trends of the commercial drone markets of 2016 and wrote about the mixed state of affairs ahead for 2017. Throughout the year, I offered my perspective on how the drone industry was still motivated by hype and how assessing forward momentum required hard data on the performance of the various sectors of the industry. To that end, we did research over the summer that surveyed 2,600 respondents on drone purchases, service providers, business users, and software services. In September, we published the data in 2017 Drone Market Sector Report 2017.

In this post, I’ll use that data to illustrate the major trends of the past year and describe what I think are the major challenges ahead for the drone industry.

Listen to this companion Drone Radio Show podcast here for the complete assessment.

Trend 1—Growth

By all measures, the drone industry in 2017 was marked by significant growth – growth in aircraft sales, software licenses, the number of service businesses entering the market, and the number of industrial businesses setting up commercial operations.

Here are a few statistics:

  • We project U.S. sales in 2017 to be about 3.3M units, which is 36% above 2016 figures. That’s all drones, all sizes. It’s about 1.3M units for the >250gram category.
  • As of October 31st, there were about 837,000 hobbyist users and 107,000 non-hobbyist drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • As of December 1st, there were about 66,000 Part 107 FAA Pilots.

This represents a big change in the commercial market since Part 107 regulations supplanted Section 333 as the means for commercial operations in the U.S. What this and our survey data tells us is the number of service providers currently outpaces demand, and as a result, service prices are coming down significantly.

Trend 2—Consumerization

We said in our report that more consumer drones are being used for commercial work than ever before. For example, our data shows that more than two-thirds (68%) of all drones weighing over 250 grams are purchased for professional purposes—either governmental or business.

Why is this significant? Because the impact of consumer-originated technology on the enterprise is something that can’t be ignored. Enterprises want to take advantage of powerful, yet easy-to-use products (like DJI’s popular consumer models), and put them to work on the job. What this means for operators or businesses is that a shared core technology benefits all users and enables companies to scale the best experiences to everyone. Enterprise customers get the added simplicity and usability of the consumer product that has been built to meet the demands of thousands of customers around the world.  The average individual pilot gets to benefit from the reliability and scalability inherent in the product and demanded by enterprise users.

Trend 3—The DJI effect

Our data shows DJI is the clear market leader in drone aircraft sales and almost every software category. For example, DJI is the dominant brand for drone aircraft purchases, with a 72% global market share across all price points and an even higher share (87%) of the core $1,000–$1,999 price segment. Additionally, in the three categories of software we evaluated, DJI is the market-share leader in two: flight logging and operations, and automated mission planning.

This is significant because by building on top of its existing technology platform, DJI has fast-tracked development and has benefited from economies of scale. By migrating a successful technology stack and feature set upmarket, DJI never has to reinvent the wheel—it just needs to improve upon the original design and save engineering cycles for real innovation.

The upshot is that to stay relevant, all the other major vendors have had to partner with DJI (see Trend 5 Partnerships, below). DJI’s sales success has taken market share from others and has led to layoffs at 3DR, Autel, GoPro, Parrot, and Yuneec. However, fears about data security remain. And this has some speculating about whether DJI can sustain its leadership role in the future.

Trend 4—Investments

According to CB Insights, investments shifted in 2017 from aircraft hardware to software. In 2016, there were 106 deals totaling $542M. Most of these were for hardware. In 2017, VCs focused on software, end-to-end solutions, and counter-drone technology. CB Insights projects the year will end with 110 deals totaling $494M. The most significant investment this past year was 3D Robotics’ $53M Series D round. It saw them pivot from hardware to software services.

Why is this significant?  Because it shows the industry is still maturing. Seed and Series A rounds represented 60% of all deals in 2017; whereas early-stage share peaked in 2015 at 73% of deals. Additionally, some of the most well-funded drone companies are targeting enterprise and industrial inspection.

What this means for operators or businesses is greater affordability. Software advances, computer chip manufacturing techniques, and economies of scale will continue to drive down the cost of drone platforms and sensors and solutions.

Trend 5—Partnerships

This year we saw a change from synergistic merger and acquisitions to the creation of end-to-end solutions via partnerships. For example, look at how DJI’s enterprise partnerships have grown. Consider their AirWorks conference. What drone major vendor wasn’t there? The list included DroneDeploy, Measure, PrecisionHawk, Skycatch, and Sentera, to name a few.

This past year we also saw an uptick in regulators and industry stakeholder partnerships. For example, the Drone Advisory Committee was created to provide the FAA with advice on unmanned aircraft integration from a diverse group of stakeholders. Major commercial participants include Intel, DJI, Amazon, Google X, and Facebook, as well the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Consider also the FAA’s new UAS Integration Pilot Program. Here, government entities are partnering with private-sector companies, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operators and manufacturers, to submit proposals to the FAA to fly more advanced operations in their communities, including flying beyond line of sight and over people. This is significant because it’s clear that regulators want to include industry when creating policies.

However, there is some good news / bad news with this.

The good news is greater flexibility. With vendor partnerships, drones will be able to perform more types of data gathering in a shorter timeframe and with more precision than many other options. So, more aircraft, sensor, and software integration.

The bad news is operators and businesses have regulatory uncertainty. We advise our clients to plan for some uncertainty as technology, the public, and bureaucracy find common ground on operations for beyond visual line of sight and over people.

Challenges ahead

Here’s my list of the major challenges facing the drone industry in 2018:

  1. Regulations: We may see more regulatory red tape—e.g., a patchwork quilt of rules as the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program begins to make policy.
  2. Public sentiment: Basic public concerns still exist about drone safety, security, privacy, and their public nuisance. My question is: How can we overcome this?
  3. Business value: We’ve yet to see credible ROI that hits the executive scorecard. The key question is: What monetary benefit do drones and information gleaned from drones provide shareholder value?
  4. Information accuracy: Up to now, drone vendors have been focused on the accuracy of image capture and the rigor of the drone system. For better business value, they need to focus on the accuracy of the data processing and the rigor of data analysis.
  5. IT data governance: This is especially the case for drone inspections where a single drone could collect 50 to 100 gigabytes of data. Managing these large data sets starts to become one of the things that have to be worked out.
  6. Automation: A lot of software automation will come, including artificial intelligence (AI) or algorithms that minimize the amount of human effort to distill all that information and get to some actionable inference. But large scale industrial use of AI is young and it requires manual intervention to distinguish the difference between near-similar objects.
  7. Endurance: We’re still on the quest for efficiencies like better power sources or mixes.
  8. Widespread business adoption: Business and industry adoption is growing, but it’s mixed because of factors such as business risk aversion, concerns over invasion of privacy, and a reluctance by many companies to share too much information about successes.

That’s it for now.

Listen to the companion podcast here http://bit.ly/2CXe6uK.

Look for a follow-up piece on our specific predictions for 2018, which will include investments, technology improvements, ecosystem partnerships, and software innovations.

If you have questions about what’s in the report I mention or would like to comment, write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: Shutterstock

In addition to posing threats in urban landscapes, drones frequently cause harm in the battlefield. For example, ISIS routinely uses drones for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) operations to help maximize the damage from suicide attacks (Watson, 2017, January 12. “The Drones of ISIS.”). Introducing a system that eliminates a lawless “wild west” and allows for the safe management of drones through safe counter-UAS technology will protect citizens and give the public confidence that areas of critical infrastructure are secure.

To balance privacy and public safety, only legitimate authorities ought to be able to identify drone operators. Consider license plates on cars, which provide a promising analogy. License plates discourage bad behavior by ensuring accountability for malicious actions. While license plates uniquely identify car owners, the law restricts the reasons for which a person can search a database of license plates. Drone use must be accountable enough—without imposing on privacy rights—to deter malicious acts and ensure, for the public’s peace of mind, that bad actors can be identified with due haste.

Burdensome regulations are expected to stifle innovation on the frontend and the backend. By erecting barriers to enjoyable customer experiences, stringent requirements on consumers reduce the demand for products. They thereby, in turn, reduce the incentives for companies to develop and sell products. This is why WhiteFox is recommending policies that are non-cumbersome and maximally consumer-friendly while also meeting the safety and privacy requirements outlined above. The policies detailed in the whitepaper can be found at https://www.whitefoxdefense.com/resources/whitepapers.

These requirements are ideal for all stakeholders: Citizens and governments are assured non-invasive safety and accountability to discourage bad actors; consumers are assured straightforward adoption and deployment of commercial and recreational drones; larger drone fleet operators are assured uniform regulatory frameworks that drastically lower the cost of compliance and of operating between jurisdictions; regulatory bodies are assured consistency with existing national airspace system structure and regulation.

To responsibly implement a comprehensive UTM system, these topics must be addressed. WhiteFox CEO, Luke Fox, shares, “At WhiteFox, we understand that proper requirements for industry, consumers, public safety, and privacy must be met when integrating drones into our airspace. We believe our whitepaper’s recommendations have struck the delicate balance between each stakeholder. We look forward to enjoying a world where drones can move about safely and securely.”

About WhiteFox Defense Technologies:

WhiteFox Defense Technologies, Inc. specializes in drone defense and security. As drone enthusiasts and security experts, they work to keep the skies open to and safe for all responsible pilots and advance the potential for drone technology to benefit society.
For more information, visit www.WhiteFoxDefense.com.

We just released a new research report titled “Five Valuable Business Lessons About Drones in Asset and Infrastructure Inspection” This is the fourth in a series of white papers intended to share lessons learned in specific industries and how to maximize the value drones can deliver in those industries. This year, we are building on the analysis we did for the 2016 “Truth About” papers by incorporating real-world experience gained from businesses and drone pilots operating under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (aka FAA Part 107).

In the report, which co-authored by Chris Korody, we demonstrate what drone operators servicing a wide variety of industries have learned about what works and what doesn’t. We explore both the benefits and limitations of drone inspection projects and offer practical advice to would-be adopters. We answer questions like: What have companies learned about creating their own internal drone operation groups? And where do we go or what can we expect from here?

Here is an excerpt:

“While both media and investors have primarily focused on opportunities for using drones in the construction and agriculture industries, inspection applications have fostered innovation together with significant returns on investment. The reasons begin with the “four Ds”—a term coined by GE Ventures to describe the unique ability of drones to meet the needs of their field services customers. The four D’s describe any activity that’s tailor-made to be performed by a drone, and are:

  • Dull
  • Dirty
  • Dangerous
  • Distant

In a 2014 interview, Sue Siegel, the CEO of GE Ventures, added a fifth “D”—for data—saying simply, “Imagine that if you’re doing it faster, you might be able to do it more often. And more data typically will give you better data.”

The four Ds+1 combination is one of the most compelling arguments for drone adoption in companies where uptime is money, crews are expensive, and structures and facilities are often expected to last 50 to 100 years.

The other compelling argument is cost reduction. McKinsey Consulting’s recent white paper “Preserving the downturn’s upside highlights how the oil and gas industry reduced costs by 29% in response to falling oil prices. They show that 40% to 50% of the savings came from eliminating the demand for a variety of services, including manned aviation support. The innovators figured out how to put drones to work.”

The report goes on to discuss how drones and the data from drones offer huge advantages in the oil & gas, telecommunications, and utility industries. It also provides insights from Dexter Lewis, PE, senior engineer in the research and development group at Southern Company (NYSE: SO) which brings electricity and gas to 9 million customers.

You can get the free report here.

If you have questions about what’s in the report or would like to comment on it after reading it, write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Elaine Chao testifies during her confirmation hearing to be the next U.S. secretary of transportation before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee as her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell looks on. CREDIT: Getty Images

On Wednesday this week, President-elect Trump’s nominee to head the Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao spoke to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee about her plans to tackle America’s infrastructure problem.

Chao, the former Secretary of Labor under President George H.W. Bush, stated during her hearing that the federal government has not kept pace with emerging technologies, including such advances as autonomous vehicles and artificial intelligence.

Throughout her speech, Chao affirmed the importance of safety regulations, especially as these types of technologies continue to develop and become more commonplace. “Regulatory decisions should be rooted in analysis derived from sound science and data,” she said.

Although the drone industry saw a major breakthrough in terms of regulations with Part 107, this is more good news, which could spell an even friendlier environment for the development of drone businesses and commercial UAV operators.

Chao worked extensively with the Federal Aviation Administration during her tenure as undersecretary of transportation, which positions her to make well-informed and knowledgable decisions about modernizing the national air traffic control system. We can reasonably expect to see new FAA rules loosen restrictions on commercial drones.

To take it all one step further, the FAA’s funding is set to expire on September 30. Privatization of air traffic control is going to be a topic on the table of the newly convened 115th Congress. If that transpires, the decisions about regulations for commercial drone operations will be made by those in the industry with hands-on knowledge of what drones are capable of, and the best ways to keep our skies safe.

As I type this post today, I wish I had a crystal ball regarding the future of Recreational and Commercial UAV flight in Canada.

Although I have heard a TON of comments regarding stricter laws and uncertainty, here is my two cents…

I am hoping the laws do not change much, but will mirror image the current laws in the U.S. to the extent there is a registration process in place, which Canada needs. There seems to be a better understanding in the U.S.  regarding the laws and processes with the newly rolled out Part 107.

It also seems that there is a greater acceptance of Drones in the U.S. and their society. The commercial markets seem to point to that. I have done hundreds of quotes, and I believe my pricing is very reasonable for the services offered, however there is apprehension when it comes to signing on the dotted line.

I know a few issues that we face as commercial UAV service companies in Canada. These include;

  • A poor economy (In Alberta…anyway…no one is spending money on extras like this)
  • The Box Store Pilots…(The recreational user who goes to the box store, picks up a $500 drone and offers aerial services on Kijiji or Facebook for literally free, without the proper qualifications and requirements…
  • Permission of others. National Parks require permission from the Park Management, however if you look on YouTube, there is tons of footage that obviously has not met National Park Permission requirements and is therefore unlawful.

Another point is there has to be better education for pilots and officials regarding legislation and enforcement in Canada. For example there are a ton of pilots out there who obviously do not know what registered aerodromes are and where they can and cannot fly.

I am hoping that all of Canada educates themselves regarding the current laws rules and regulations regarding UAV and that Joe Public realizes they are not used just for spying, trespassing and flying close to airplanes. (Most of the supposed Drone near misses, in my opinion are false).

My experience with UAV flight is fairly recent… (February 2016). However, in that time I have:

  • Incorporated a partnership, turned single owner company…(Partner lost interest and got frustrated by the struggles of new business).
  • Built a reputable full spectrum UAV service company from the ground up
  • Developed our own website through  a couple of different web building platforms and learned a lot
  • Built a great relationship with the top UAV suppliers in North America
  • Built a well-stocked service and repair facility for unauthorized repairs and service.
  • Built our own HSE manual as well as achieved SFOC certification for all of Western Canada
  • Built a relationship with a few Insurance companies and carry minimum liability coverage as well as rental pool coverage
  • Flew my first “UAV” a $10000.00 Yuneec Tornado H920….(Rather nervous first flight)
  • Been scammed by crooks by way of fraudulent online purchases.
  • Emerged from the struggles of the aforementioned negatives and continue to grow towards a successful service company for the long haul!!

I could go for hours on other accomplishments I and my company have achieved in the UAV industry, but this is where I will conclude.

As an incorporated UAV full service company in for the long term, I wish for a couple of things.

  • Number one is that the Alberta/ Canadian economy picks up and people retain the ability to have liquid cash to make recreational purchases such as UAVs and accessories, and that small business in Alberta/ Canada, look at the advantages of aerial photography to gain that competitive advantage for marketing and advertising.
  • The second wish is that Canadian society in general educates themselves further regarding the use and advantages of UAV in our society.
  • My final wish is that after society educates themselves regarding the advantages of the UAV that people understand that, as with all industry, that to provide a service that is beneficial, and that ensures safety and compliance, it takes hard work, money, resources and time and that “the box store pilots” keep to recreation only or put forth the resources (Time, Money Effort, Sweat equity, and Perseverance), to build up a reputable UAV service company that supplies regulated services and product to the public we serve.

If you are interested in more information regarding the services and products at DR-one, please click on the following link. Thanks for your time and hopefully in the future www.DR-one.ca can help you #CreateYourOwnMemories

Guest Post by Dave Hillier, co-founder of DR-one.ca.