Posts tagged "Droneii"

Increasing numbers of companies are becoming active in the drone sector. The last few years have seen the development of a real market that provides a diverse range of platforms with specific applications. And the sector is constantly becoming more professional. While projects initially focused primarily on the film and photographic sectors, applications are increasingly making inroads into the particular technologies. The trend of the last few years is clear – a constantly growing number of companies have established themselves in the drone market as manufacturers or professional users. Other companies are continually entering the sector and becoming active as manufacturers of hardware and software solutions, for example, or as professional users with drone services.

The market offering encompasses the manufacture (of hardware and software) and use of drones as an efficient tool for specific applications, end-to-end solutions, and services such as drone-as-a-service. These all harness the multitude of possibilities offered by drone technology to generate genuine added economic value for customers. Surveying and building inspections, for example, can thus be performed quickly, easily and cost-effectively, because scaffolding, building climbers and the intensive deployment of personnel on site for days on end are no longer required, unlike in conventional processes. The density of the data captured is also far greater, while the outlay is lower overall. What’s more, drones can now do all this in a much shorter timeframe.

However, the market still has huge potential. Now, this doesn’t so much apply to the drone platform itself but rather the growing application options made possible by larger loads and longer flying times. As a result, for instance, more sensors can be used on drones, gathering even more data and even more precise data.

Many potential customers who could use drone technologies to make their workflows much more efficient still have no precise idea about the wide range of possibilities offered by the drone market for the actual working environment.

“There is a strong trend towards growth and professionalism.”

However, there are also challenges. The regulatory framework still does not reflect what has long been technologically possible using drones. Among other things, flying out of sight is not permitted. Companies are often put off by the complex ordering procedures. Orders where drones are to be used at very short notice often fail due to the weeks taken to process applications for flight permits from the relevant authority. Nevertheless, within the means available, the sector is implementing an increasing number of projects in which drones play a key role.

Yet the image of drones among the general public often differs. Apart from being perceived as a toy, they often only make the headlines as a threat to air traffic or as a pizza delivery service. But the reality of professional drone use is completely different and occurs mostly beyond the public gaze. A recent industry survey gives an insight into the commercial market for unmanned flights: The industry barometer was carried out using the ‘explori’ survey platform on behalf of INTERAERIAL SOLUTIONS and sheds real light on the drone market and the issues of those involved. It highlights challenges but also a very clear trend towards growth and professionalization.

The survey in the first quarter of 2018 canvassed 350 companies, 43% of which are commercial drone users and 38% drone manufacturers. The remaining 19% are universities, research institutes, students, developers, manufacturers of accessories or lawyers. […]

Learn more and read all statistics in the paper.

This report provides insights on a very high level. If you need deeper insights into the economics of drone operation, technical, regulatory advisory, please contact us at

Learn more

Drone data security is in a very early stage – not in terms of infrastructure and opportunities, but in terms of adoption. Now, let us paint the bigger picture and put drone data security into context.

Data security is always temporary – everything is secure, until it isn’t. IT companies find themselves in a constant cat-and-mouse game with those who proof existing security standards to be insufficient. The degree of connectivity increases at light speed, making the whole topic of data security in a highly-connected world hugely important and inconceivably complex.

But let us start at the beginning and see what this means for commercial drones today and in the future. Drone data security is essential on three major levels: The first level considers the interaction between drone and user. The second and third level concerns the wireless data transfer and cloud storage. Transmitting large amounts of data wirelessly might still seem far from reality due to today’s bandwidth limitations, but that does not make data security less important for the future. “Security layers are important factors for drones’ success going forward. In fact, we believe it will be a critical enabling factor for the success of the drone revolution.” Oren Elkayam, Founder & CEO of Mobilicom recently underlined in an interview.

The Layers

Today level 1, the link between device and user is the only focus of discussion. For instance, the rather insecure link between user and device is used by counter-drone devices to stop a drone in-air or even force it to land, and there is already a great variety of non-physical counter drone (CUAV) solutions available. Greater drone data security provided by encrypted data-links help to reduce the risk to be hacked – in return, however, this also means an increased risk through encrypted rogue drones.

Layers 2 and 3 are just as crucial – in this case, the hijacking of the platform is not in the foreground but the wiretapping of the collected data. With increasing automation, however, this will also include the control of the platform. The list of threats is growing every day, making it essential to create an ecosystem that is secure and reliable.

Imagine the following scenario: you are sitting in an autonomous aerial taxi and ransomware forces you to transfer money to an account within the next 15 minute. If you do not comply, the platform will shut down the engines and make you crash over a highly-populated area. Especially when piloted aircraft become unpiloted, there must be extremely reliable safety mechanisms in place. From a programming point of view, it appears to be a thin line to make robots work efficiently and having all necessary safety nets in place at the same time. It is basically the same with commercial aircrafts today, where system redundancy is traded for payload and range.

Degree of Automation

Drones, just like aerial taxis will only be effective when they work at an extremely high degree of automation – this includes the ability to interact with other systems (e.g. air traffic management, weather forecast, etc.). The ecosystem for all that to happen already exists – it is called the internet (the internet of things or IoT, to be accurate), which is not necessarily a safe place for data.

Today you can control a thermostat via your smartphone – that is a classic IoT use-case. With an increasing level of automation, complex flying robots (like drones) will soon be just as easy to control. But according to which standards will they interact with other devices? How do you protect devices that could do harm to others when hijacked? This requires safety mechanisms on each level. The graphic above shows the main trust boundaries of drone data security (transition of data/info from one source to another) but our view forward should not stop here.

Artificial Intelligence

AI will boost automation! We are on the verge of a second industrial revolution. AI will be spread on the grid like once electric power. Everything that in the past got electrified will soon be cogni-fied. The AI train already left the station, full steam ahead and there are no brakes to pull. Today we are teaching machines how to think, how to understand our behavior and how to defend themselves. What could possibly go wrong?

Data scientists and developers will create the future of AI, but again – according to what rule-book? What standards are out there to respect when creating, what scientist claim to be the last big invention that humanity will ever need to make? What is the foundation of a world where smart robots will design and manufacture other robots? Personally, it feels a lot like chemistry class. We have nothing on hand but a few basic principles and a lot of elements in the equation, while we have absolutely no idea of what happens when we mix it all together and how to control it.

The Control Problem 

To make sure this control problem is solved by the time needed, it is essential to work it out in advance. It might be difficult to solve the entire control problem from the start because many elements can only be put in place once we know the details of the architecture where it will be implemented. However, the more we consider these developments and try to solve potential control problems early on, the better the odds that the transition to the machine intelligence era will go well.

There are already many possibilities to safely and securely connect drones to the internet of things and we are only in minute one of the game. A lot of money is and will be spent on drone data security to trial-and-error the way forward. This, unfortunately, will include failures. New and very complex technologies are not always 100% safe from the beginning (e.g. self-driving cars) – we simply expect technology to do what it is supposed to do. And if the machine does not always know what that is, artificial intelligence will allow the machine to react to changing conditions.

If you now think that this is so far away and will not bother us for the next fifty years, try to look at it from a different point of view. The computer scientist Stuart Russell put it this way: Imagine that we received a message from an alien civilization, which read: “People of Earth, we will arrive on your planet in 50 years. Get ready!”

Do you think we would just sit here, counting down the months until the mothership lands? We would feel a little more urgency to work the switches. For the commercial drone market – the incredible melting pot of technologies – this means to truly think progressively and to better be safe than sorry, when it comes to drone data security.

Learn more about data security and the commercial drone industry on:

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In a recent market survey, experts from the UAV sector analysed and assessed the current situation in the drone market. The survey questioned 350 German and international manufacturers and providers that produce drones or use them professionally. Expert interviews were also conducted and evaluated.

The findings shed real light on the UAV market and the issues of those involved. They highlight challenges but also a very clear trend in the industry towards growth and professionalisation.

“The idea of conducting surveys or inspections without drones has now become unthinkable,” says Kay Wackwitz, CEO of Drone Industry Insights, summarising the findings of the industry barometer. “These two fields are already showing the highest usage figures by far and are expected to deliver the biggest growth in the industry over the next 12 months,” he continues.

However, there is also a strong upwards trend in other areas of application. As the industry survey indicates, surveying and inspection are the top applications in the UAV market, with 80 percent of all drones launched for these purposes alone. Professional users such as drone-as- a-service providers clearly confirmed this in the survey, as nearly half of them
specialise in precisely these applications. For example, they map pieces of land and agricultural areas and inspect infrastructure by using the sensors on the drones to gather huge volumes of data for subsequent analysis.

Companies provided a thoroughly positive assessment of market development in the industry barometer. They intend to invest significantly in developing hardware and software, but also in the fields of marketing and sales, as there are still plenty of companies that are unaware of what an efficient tool a drone can be. The aim of the industry is to provide customers with perfect packages comprising end-to- end solutions.
The industry currently sees the legal framework conditions as a challenge. For example, the
companies indicated that it still takes too long to get a flight permit and the application process is too bureaucratic and not standardised. Nonetheless, it is still possible to develop efficient solutions and projects for customers when working within the known legislation.
INTERAERIAL SOLUTIONS, part of INTERGEO in October, will provide an opportunity to
experience first-hand exactly what form these solutions and projects might take and the
potential of this high-tech industry. From 16 to 18 October, the industry will be opening its doors in Frankfurt to showcase the latest developments, projects and ideas.

The white paper is available now for download at

INTERAERIAL SOLUTIONS, consisting of exhibition, forum & flight zone, is the number one marketplace for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) in Europe. It visits a new German city each year in tandem with INTERGEO. The Forum deals with current issues from politics, administration, science and industry. The FlightZone in the outdoor zone offers live demonstrations of the various flight systems and thus delivers an all-round experience of products and the market.

INTERAERIAL SOLUTIONS 2018 will be held in Frankfurt, Germany from 16 to 18 October.

Drone investment trends are strong indicators to predict the future of the drone industry. The low price of drones and ability to carry sensors, quickly triggered adoption throughout many industries. Meanwhile, the commercial drone market created an entire eco-system attracting large investments. Besides hardware (drones, sensors, ground station, etc.), software solutions and services are also part of it. Since technology advanced quickly over the last five years, drones are now able to carry large weights opening a completely new sector: autonomous aerial taxis (AAT). Another branch is keeping security sensitive areas safe by detecting, localizing and intercepting rogue drones (also known as counter-UAV or CUAV).

The unique approach to decipher the mechanics of this dynamic market – detached from top-down market models – allows extrapolating investment trends and perspectives at a high level of precision. The report addresses the leading market players’ investment deals and trends that will influence the development of the commercial drone market. In total, 44 key industry players and investors are highlighted in detail – all investment deals are segmented by region, sector and cluster.

To create a better understanding of the market dynamics, it is important to understand the mechanics driving it. Maintaining competitive capability and a clear view of the market development is just as important as strategic partnerships. In some cases, products/companies occupy a very important strategic role, putting them into the spotlight for acquisitions. There are overall developments in terms of cluster (hardware, software, service) and region – everything apportioned in the report in detail.

“This report elaborates on all major and minor developments, highlighting the driving factors behind each sector – based on actual data.”

Key questions addressed:

  • What is the current investment situation value per sector and cluster?
  • How and why did the market change and where is it heading?
  • Who are the key players and investors in the commercial drone market?
  • How does the software sector influence the overall market?
  • Where lies the focus in mergers and acquisitions?
  • What are the driving factors behind the current strategic partnerships?

The report is essential for:

  • Drone/UAV manufacturers
  • Investors
  • Component and system manufacturers
  • Software and application developers
  • Systems integrators
  • Industry organizations and associations
  • Government agencies
  • Investor community
  • Founders

This research service includes investment deals, partnerships, emerging technologies, trends and perspectives. It is a condensed repository of exclusive market information – compressed to 45 pages it allows to gain fundamental knowledge about the commercial drone market trends in a short read. This report examines all funding information since 2006, showing the development of investment values per sector and cluster.

Drone service providers have been around for a while now – time for to showcase the scale on which drones are being put to work today! The commercial drone market changed a lot over the last years – we saw how hardware lost its leading position and has been displaced by drone services and drone software solutions. This development can be seen in the evolutionary changes in the investment market and in the distribution of strategic partnerships.

In this ranking, we display the TOP20 drone-as-a-service companies based on an analysis of 200+ global operating drone service providers. Since the drone industry does not yet offer a solution that can fully incorporate drone services as they currently exist, drone service providers and drone operators working within larger organizations are the ones providing actionable information for clients in agriculture, construction, mining, oil & gas and many other vertical industries. This reality has made a major impact on how we’ve been able to rank the various drone services.

In the TOP50 of our drone service ranking, 40% were from North America, 36% were from Europe, 10% were from MEA (the Middle East and Africa), 6% from Asia, 6% from Oceania, and finally 2% from South America. This breakout demonstrates the power of the North American and European markets but also proves they are not the only places to find these services.

Additionally, the TOP10 companies in our ranking alone received more than $116 million in funding, while the TOP20 acquired $130 million in total. Clearly, stakeholders both inside and outside of these companies have been able to demonstrate the real and future value of this technology. This value is being further supported by drone service providers looking for partnerships to extend and foster their business.

Ranking Highlights:

#1: Zipline

  • Zipline is a drone manufacturer and delivery service company based in San Francisco, CA.
  • Zipline operates the world’s only drone delivery system at a national scale (500 deliveries per day within a 75-kilometer service radius) in Rwanda which was launched in 2016. They deliver urgent medicines and critical necessities such as blood to domestic hospitals. In 2017 they announced plans to launch a similar delivery system in Tanzania in 2018.
  • They are a leader in funding with over $40m raised in 2016 alone

#2: Measure

  • Measure is one of the biggest and leading “Drone as a Service” (DaaS) companies in the USA. Based in Washington, DC, the company focuses on drone applications in telecom, construction, energy and media sectors.
  • Measure partnered with companies like DJI and AES Corporation to foster their business and provide services that are more holistic and complete in nature.
  • The company has been able to raise a significant amount of capital, and the tremendous size of the company has had a major impact on their placement in our ranking.

#3: Cyberhawk

  • The first European drone service company, Cyberhawk, is one of the top aerial inspection companies on the globe. Based in Livingston, UK, the organization delivers its services to oil & gas, renewables and rail companies all over the world.
  • The size of the company along with their number of followers and the partnerships they’ve could establish put them on rank 3.

#4: Hemav

  • Hemav was founded in Spain in 2012 to offer drone services in more than sixteen operational centers across the country.
  • The company has expanded their reach beyond Spain though, as Hemav has a presence in Mexico, Portugal, Italy, Colombia, Morocco, France, Argentina, the United Kingdom and Chile.
  • The main industries they’re focused on for drone services include precision agriculture and inspection.

#5: Flirtey

  • Reno-based Flirtey specializes in last mile delivery.
  • The company recently announced a partnership with REMA, a community-integrated emergency medical services provider, to set up the first automated external defibrillator drone delivery service in the United States.
  • Their focus on last mile delivery represents a value proposition that is entirely different from many of the other drone service industries on our list.

#6: Sky-Futures

  • Sky-Futures is a specialist provider of drone-based inspection services to the global industrial markets based in Hayes, Middlesex.
  • The strategic partnership and investment of $4m in mid-2017 from the industrial giant Mitsui will boost Sky-Futures’ business through the Japanese group’s network of clients in the energy, marine and infrastructure sectors.
  • Their performance in partnerships and funding has gotten the attention of many, and their emphasis on offering a variety of drone service options has gotten professionals to think of them as a resource for a variety of issues.

#7: Aerodyne

  • The internationally-based drone operator Aerodyne has offices in Malaysia, Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, and the UK.
  • In mid-August 2017, the company established a significant milestone when they passed 30,000 assets inspected, analyzed and presented through their cloud-based solution. This number demonstrates the tremendous reach of their drone service that extends across the globe.
  • Their increasing presence across the globe continues to impact their position in the market.

#8: Airinov

  • The drone service provider Airinov from France is used by more than 5,000 farmers, most of which are located throughout Europe.
  • The company focuses on agriculture and operates mainly in Europe, and their solid performance in web activity has allowed them to generate interest from all corners of the continent.

#9: Terra Drone

  • Terra Drone is a commercial drone service based in Tokyo, Japan, that is focused on surveying and inspection tasks.
  • The company has developed its own surveying drone with LiDAR technology to achieve high accuracy, and some of these developments have been enabled by key partnerships. Those partnerships along with their reasonable web activity established the company in the 9thposition on our list.

#10: SkySpecs

  • The US-based SkySpecs from Michigan specializes in the automated inspection and monitoring of wind turbines.
  • Skyspecs teamed up with Siemens Windpower in 2017 to develop an inspection system to be faster, more efficient and repeatable than current methodologies.
  • These kinds of partnerships along with a total funding of more than $12 million allowed the company to round out our TOP 10 in the drone service ranking.

Ranks 11-20:

The second half of our ranking is dominated by drone operators that provide inspection and mapping/surveying services. This is a strong indication of the interest that the market as a whole has for drone service providers and indicates where we’re seeing considerable growth and interest. Of these companies, Sharper Shape out of Finland i.e. received more than $4 million in funding.

The present and future need for drone service providers

Over the past few years when the interest in drone hardware came to a climax, many organizations had to confront issues related to how they could or should be working with all the data collected by their drone. This situation caused many to lose interest in drones and pull back from efforts to unlock the full potential of the technology.

While changes to regulation, drone technology itself, and the quality of enterprise solutions (provided by e.g. DroneDeploy, PrecisionHawk or Kitty Hawk) have made it that much easier for enterprise customers to manage drone operations themselves, there is clearly still a need for drone services. This fact has allowed drone service companies to focus on a variety of sectors and services to demonstrate how they can both capture raw data and turn it into actionable information. Additionally, they’ve been able to sort through regulatory responsibilities and the high administrative requirements that are often associated with this process. Because of this, many enterprise customers have been happy to outsource this capability. This preference has also opened up a need for drone service companies that can find new business models for niche or high-risk operations.

If you have any questions regarding the ranking or general inquiries please feel free to contact us under

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The changes and developments we saw throughout the drone industry in 2017 were incredible and deserve a proper examination. For the most part, the hype that drove so much misunderstanding and frustration in this space is gone,and that’s a good thing. While the kind of hype we’ve seen associated with UAVs can create needed attention, it can also lead to irrational behavior and impossible expectations. Now that we can get a better sense of when drones will be able to reach the “plateau of productivity” from the Gartner Hype Cycle, we can finally talk about the organizations and uses of this technology that will truly drive and define the drone industry.

How does our Drone Ecosystem Map help define what these developments look like in 2018 and beyond though? First, it provides a great overview of the most active and relevant players in the drone industry in their category and sub-category. We limited the Map to 1,000 players so you can focus on the companies and people that are set to have the biggest impact on the drone market. The Map is not totally comprehensive, and it’s not supposed to be. The focus is on the diversity and reach of this drone ecosystem.

The second way it can help is directly related to the first, since the Map can help you uncover niches and players you might not otherwise come across in this vivid market. Since we’re not trying to provide you with an all-encompassing look at the drone industry as a whole, you can use the Map to find technology and organizations that can make for ideal partners. We’ve heard from countless people who got in touch to say they used the previous version of this Map to locate strategic partners. This is a resource that has led to a great deal of investment for people on every side of the drone industry. Transparency can and does drive decisions in this space, and that’s why we want to share our knowledge with anyone who is or will be making a decision about drone technology.

If we look at the drone industry as a whole in 2017, we can see a clear movement towards investment in software. Many companies realized that it’s not the drones themselves that provide value for users, but instead it’s the data they’re gathering. This is part of the reason we’ve seen such a dramatic increase in strategic partnerships. Stand-alone drone hardware is not what commercial customers are looking for when considering drone technology. Many of the players in the drone industry realized that creating a complete solution was the best approach, and that desire drove many of these strategic partnerships.

If you compare the 2016 and 2018 Maps, you can see some interesting trends that have and continue to permeate the drone industry. 10% of the companies listed (711 total entries) in the 2016 map are gone. 360 new entries were added, which is indicative of the strong movement that we’re seeing in almost every sector. It’s impossible to stay on top of all these movements though, as major changes like GoPro moving away from the drone business took place in the first couple weeks of 2018. We’ll see more headlines like these throughout the year, as this market continues to be defined before our eyes. Now let’s take a closer look at the most important developments in the drone industry:

Platform Manufacturers:

  • A great deal of consolidation is happening, and that’s something you can see with the mergers, acquisitions, drop-outs and focus changes. 3DR, PrecisionHawk, and Agribotix have moved away from hardware and are now mostly or wholly focused on software. Much of this has been triggered by the market superiority of DJI. 3DR officially noted that competitive pricing was a key reason for their $100m failure in hardware.
  • There’s a trend toward strong specialization in specific industries and with custom configurations. Agriculture, delivery systems, safety & security are some of the bigger industries that are seeing this development of specialization. That’s being augmented by specialized configurations, which have also created new niches and provided unique selling points. These configurations include fixed-wing, VTOL fixed-wing and lighter-than-air.
  • The AAT’s (Autonomous Air Taxis – also called flying-cars or e-VTOLs) sector has come on in a big way, and there’s a lot of funding in this space. Big companies seem to grab the best pieces before it’s too late, which is something you can see with developments like Terrafugia being acquired by Volvo-owner Geely, and Aurora Flight Sciences being acquired by Boeing. We’re also seeing some pivoting happening in this sector, as companies like Ehang have changed their strategy to move away from recreational drones to AAT’s.
  • In the consumer/recreational market, drone racing events and selfie drones continue to define the space. Many have had to fight to stay relevant here, as Parrot’s struggles in the space directly led to the transition of Bebop for commercial purposes, Lily’s failure allowed the Mota Group to acquire the product and DreamQii had to issue refunds on account of their PlexiDrone.


  • Powerful pieces of inspection software have been developed which utilize pattern recognition for asset management. The industrial needs to integrate AI & Deep Learning algorithms will allow these programs to automate inspection processes even more, and in turn, provide more value.
  • Many strategic software partnerships have been formed to provide end-to-end solutions because many organizations have recognized that providing one piece of the puzzle is not enough.
  • API’s and approaches that allow drone data to be integrated into existing processes quickly become a requirement. Opening channels (API) and tools that integrate drones into established processes came on in a big way in 2017, and that development will become even more distinct in 2018.
  • Aerial Data Providers such as Airbus Aerial and Intel Insights have taken the concept of aerial acquired data to a new level. Providing a virtual data platform for satellite, plane and drone data unshackles them from drone operation and the corresponding risk.
  • The UTM has unlocked many national and international partnerships, and we’ve started to see the results of these developments. Skyward and Airmap have become the first organization to be able to provide LAANC accreditation.


  • There’s a lot of talk about drone logistics services, but we’ve finally seen an impact that has gone beyond marketing. Matternet and Zipline are just two of the companies that are frequently flying medical deliveries in Europe and Africa. Drone-based warehousing solutions are also on the rise.
  • Drone show providers have showcased an entirely new application for the technology. Intel’s’ halftime-show and many other drone swarms have ushered in a new era of outdoor and indoor entertainment.
  • System integrations that are being provided and created have taken on critical importance. More tailor-made solutions are required by various industries, and that means more providers are working to alter standard configurations to meet industry-specific needs
  • Drone accelerators programs have uncovered the potential of the extremely quick-moving drone companies. They’ve jumped started new companies, and more of that will happen in 2018.
  • Organizations that provide Drones as a Service (DaaS) have matured to the point that providers have proven they can contract big business. This service has also been augmented by certain jobs whose complexity has been reduced, meaning that the DaaS model can allow savings to stay in-house.


  • This is a new market in the civil world that’s rapidly growing with big funding and large international partnerships
  • Pure CUAS conferences and expos have been created to explain threats and opportunities
  • There are limitations for physical and non-physical systems that include jammer restrictions (federal network agency) and problems for health in public spaces (e.g. pacemakers).

Components and Systems:

  • High priced equipment and flights in populated areas call for rigorous safety measures, which is why there’s been a proliferation of launch & recovery They provide more awareness and available solutions for operational security.
  • Brand new drone propulsion methods have been developed, and they’re as essential as they are powerful. Hybrid systems(battery/fuel cell, gas/battery) allow long endurance/range by optimizing mission requirements for hardware.
  • Cameras are now being used for indoor navigation while FLIR cameras almost sold out due to high demand from industry.
  • Encrypted data links are getting very popular since the standard drone-to-ground communication is quite vulnerable. Data & communication logistics and details will continue to be a top priority.
  • Drone ground stations, aka “drone box” solutions, have been labeled by some as complete solutions since they offer a roof over your drone and the ability to wirelessly charge/exchange batteries before the drone takes off on a new pre-programmed flight.


  • Crowdfunding does not seem to work, as we saw a lot of failures and bankruptcies. Those include Bionic Bird, Micro Drone, FlyPro, Lily, Onagofly and Globe Drone, among others.
  • Many supplier/retailer vanished due to hard competition and not yet high demand, especially in Europe.
  • Yuneec laid off 70% of its U.S. staff in March of 2017 and introduced a new CEO. Parrot announced in January 2017 that it was going to reduce its drone team from 840 employees to 290 people, which represents a reduction by about 66%. Autel also laid off employees in February 2017, while GoPro just announced they were entirely shutting down their drone division and laying off more than 200 employees. All of these developments are an indication of how untenable the aerial market is, and that’s mostly due to the dominance of DJI.
  • While niches like drone racing and selfie-drones seem to work well for many startups, there’s a simple fact that’s impossible to get around: building hobby drones is hard. It’s going to get even more competitive now that DJI has announced ‘Tello’ – a $99 selfie drone designed by Ryze Tech.


  • Machine learning for drone navigation and data analytics is driving numerous developments.
  • The degree of automation and adoption of drone technology will further increase.
  • Conglomerates will directly address the drone market. In the past startups, came up with niche solutions and sometimes were happy to partner with a big industry player, which is something that happened with Airware and Caterpillar. Now though, big companies like Komatsu & NVIDIA are partnering to bring solutions with a bigger scope to the market. Those are partnerships designed to sort out logistics related to topics like AI. It begs to question of whether we’ll see companies like IBM and Hitachi or Qualcomm and Mitsui form the next major partnership that will have a direct and indirect impact on the drone industry.
  • There is a lot happening under the radar in China, especially in agriculture and delivery.

All of these developments are indicative of how and why 2018 is going to be so exciting. The drone industry as a whole will undoubtedly go through some exhilarating highs and discouraging lows. We’ll see solutions that are going to become mature and easier to integrate into existing workflows as well as new capabilities that will enable uses few have even considered. The Drone Ecosystem Map will be a critical resource you’ll be able to refer to and utilize throughout this process. To learn more about the players, their capabilities and their role in the market feel free to contact us. To learn more about the companies listed on the map, check out our services.

No matter if overhyped or not, a well-educated market is a stable market. That’s the kind of market we can all contribute to and want to be part of.

Have a great and successful year 2018!




Previous articleExpert Roundup: How to get started with drone videography and photography

As the recreational and commercial drone market evolves with light speed, chances to use this technology for civil uses grow – however, this also counts for possibilities to do harm. The ability to do damage in and outside of conflict zones with warfare tactics is frightening and creates an urge to protect oneself. But how?

Counter drone technology can detect, localize, track and/or ‘interact’ with rogue drones in many ways. This can be an alert for people to initiate safety measures or the active defense of aerial thread. Consumer drones are cheap and modifications are easy to make. Terrorists i.e. can carry several grenades and drop them with up to 5km away from the remote controller. They could get into airports disturbing normal operations or cause irritations/crashes with airliners, which may lead to losses of lives. They could threaten the privacy of people, protected places, events or specifically target critical infrastructure. The FBI Director Christopher Wray recently told terrorist might use drones for attacks in the western world imminently.

Attacks can be very different – needless to say, that counter drone measures must be manifold too and there are various techniques available today. The graph shows a selection of counter drone technology manufacturers – this list is not comprehensive.


Drone detection can be done optically, acoustically or by scanning radio frequencies. This provides the information that a drone is somewhere near you – it doesn’t provide the information where it is exactly and what direction it is flying (e.g. like a fly in your living room: you can hear it but you don’t know where it is exactly).

Detection, however, is the first step to localize and identify a drone to figure out if it’s friend or enemy.


Finding the specific position, speed and heading of a drone are key to initiate protective measures. Long and short range radars are being used to do that and therewith help to increase the response time for a certain countermeasure.

Active Defense

As mentioned before, active measures do not necessarily mean to just shoot the drone from the sky – let’s start at the lowest end of escalation. To protect your security sensitive facility from drones spying through the window, simply closing the sun-blinds might already do it. Regular checks if a drone dropped a Wi-Fi-sniffer on your roof is one example how to protect oneself against this new sort of threads.

To make sure a drone does not enter a certain security sensitive area, jamming is one possibility of active defense. The electromagnetic ‘overpressure’ brings the incoming drone to a stop until it runs out of battery and either returns home or lands.

Directional jamming means focusing the jamming signal towards the rogue drone. This can be rifle-like beam-antennas pointed at the intruder after localization. Another possibility is to intercept a drone from the ground or from the air. Net-guns are quite popular in this segment but it requires the attacker to be already very close to the area where it doesn’t belong.

Spoofing is a very advanced solution of drone defense and done via protocol manipulation, which takes advantage of weaknesses found in all digital radio protocols. This allows to safely land or steer away the attacking drone. The attackers’ remote control then is inoperative.


Using countermeasures in your own backyard is a problem. Firing net-guns or emitting strong electromagnetic fields is illegal in most countries since the latter one i.e. might not just stop drones from operating but also pacemakers. In governmental/military operations, spectrum regulation may not apply. Shielding the G7 summit in Elmau back in 2015 i.e. was a joint effort in line with the federal network agency.

The Main Players

Many companies are exploring this business opportunity – let us give you a brief overview of some relevant solutions on the market per section.

Finland-based Senso Fusion’s counter drone solution ‘AIRFENCE‘ participated at NASA UTM’s TCL2 campaign. AIRFENCE has been designed with over 3 years of military testing with real-world tactical scenarios. At its core, it can automatically detect, locate, track and take over drone controls all on full auto.

Detect and track solutions are provided by companies like Dedrone, DeTect or Gryphon Sensors. Germany-based Dedrone offers fully configurable systems capable of detection, tracking and even jamming rogue drones. Dedrone has partnered with Airbus DS to include the Airbus radar technology to the solution. Dedrone raised a total of $27.9 million USD over the last two years.

Bligther, Airbus DS, Droneshield, IAI offer and many others offer end-to-end solutions using jammers of different bands of the RF spectrum to perform an active action against drones. Their solutions are capable to detect and track drones using technologies such as radar, EO/IR cameras or RF scanning and perform jamming by using directional or omnidirectional antennas.

Department 13 develops software and communication systems for customers in both the public and private sectors. Their spoofing product MESMER features automated detection via RF scanning and allows to stop, redirect, land or take total control of a target drone.

Radio Hill, Vector Solutions and Battelle manufacture manual jamming devices. Battelle is leveraging its DroneDefender system with Dedrone’s platform alert technology to protect critical infrastructure. More than 200 units have been sold so far to the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and international customers.

Active interception solutions provided by Airspace, OpenWorks Engineering, Theiss UAV Solutions, Groupe Assmann or DroneCatcher rely on actively catching drones with nets from ground or in-air. It allows intercepting with low risk of damage to the drone or the surrounding area and either release the net or relocate the ‘thread’ to an appropriate location before releasing the net.

What’s next?

Active counter drone technology is going to be used governmentally only for a foreseeable time. ‘Softer’ solutions might be available for commercial use earlier if regulations e.g. from federal network agencies do not apply. Detailed rules of when, where and how to use counter drone measures outside of governmental applications are not in place at the time when this article was written.

The counter drone market, however, is still a niche market but already shows large contract volumes. Both governmental and commercial possibilities seem endless and we expect a similar rapid market development like we saw in the drone hardware market 2 years ago. This time counter drone technology companies have strong resistance – the vivid startup scene will have to find smart niches and compete against big and established companies that typically served the military sector.

Using drones under extreme conditions remains a challenge for many companies around the world. Choosing the right platform versus a professional service provider for drone operation is equally challenging – especially when the results must be highly accurate.

This 14-page white paper looks at some of these challenges in detail and aims to steer business and technical decision makers through the demanding process of commercial drone operation. Using Australia’s economic and environmental landscape as an example unveils challenges and benefits that come along with drone operation.


As drone technology evolved significantly in 2013, it became a game-changing solution for several industries. In the meantime, national aviation authorities have prepared stable regulatory frameworks for realizing UAV operation and today almost every industry is deploying UAVs to increase productivity and safety.

Especially in the mining, construction and infrastructure industry the technical solutions are mature enough to enable almost fully automated UAV operation, to provide data in the same or better quality in significantly less time compared to traditional methods from ground or by plane or satellite.

This white paper explains how this strong tool offers a real alternative and includes following insights:

  • The economic benefits and added-value of UAV deployment
  • Regulatory framework
  • Understanding the requirements for a successful UAV workflow
  • Comparison of service provider capabilities


In the last 20 years, China and India almost tripled their share of the global economy. Global competition and price dumping lead to challenges in cost and quality for the world’s 13th largest economy – Australia (Department of infrastructure and regional development 2014).

Utilizing UAVs commercially provides high potential for optimizing costs, quality, time and safety across several industries. The UAV market alone is expected to grow to $127 billion in 2020 (PWC 2016).

UAVs truly are a game-changing technology making an impact specifically in low-margin industries. Collecting data via UAV improves data quality, increases work security and makes results accessible much faster. There are many application-specific solutions available today covering tasks like inspection, mapping, surveying and many more.

Many different sensors (optoelectronical, electrochemical, temperature or radio sensors, etc.) have been modified to work with UAVs to acquire data close to the ground and at low speed – this increases result quality and operational safety while reducing costs and downtimes.

Unmanned aerial systems are very complex – improper handling (flight planning, hardware set-up, analytics, etc.) can lead to dramatic loss in quality. Professional service providers can ensure the required quality, especially when it comes to very complex use cases.

Download your free copy here.

The last year in the drone industry moved at incredible pace – especially when it comes to strategic partnerships. We frequently provided updates about partnerships in the past. Now, why is this so important? Drone companies (hardware and software manufacturers, and service providers) are constantly expanding their product/service portfolio and interdisciplinary expertise. This is extremely interesting because it unveils the company’s strategic alignment.

Looking at the last year, the number of strategic partnerships increased by 24% (42 to 55) compared to the same period of the previous year which shows the increasing maturity of the industry. Furthermore, the elements changed: partnerships with software companies (2016: 20% -> 2017: 33%) and services (2016: 29% -> 2017: 31%) increased. The role of hardware is still very important (2016: 51% -> 2017: 36%), but the industry understood that it cannot stand alone anymore – customers look for easy-to-use end-to-end solutions and this involves software and service.

What happened so far

There are very active players like DJI, Intel, Parrot, DroneDeploy, Airware, Airmap and 3DR in the drone industry tirelessly building their individual end-to-end ecosystem. Strategic partnerships, however, are not just there to build a solution but also to detain key-players from competitors. So far it seems there are plenty of fish in the sea but the fight for key-technologies and key-players has already begun some time ago.

Hardware + Hardware

To continuously enlarge the product portfolio and product abilities, HW+HW partnerships are a good way to complete a solution. Yet, these kinds of partnerships are still the minority. Again, this indicates the already high maturity level of the drone technology.

  • Microdrones and Delair-Tech partnered to combine R&D strengths, allowing Delair-Tech and Microdrones to collaborate on “the second generation of commercial UAVs”.
  • UMS Skeldar and Sentient Vision Systems announced an agreement to provide the ViDAR (Visual Identification Detection and Ranging) system for USM Skeldar’s unmanned systems at the Paris Airshow.
  • Dedrone and Battelle will explore ways to create an end-to-end solution (detect and defeat drones) to provide complete airspace security for sensitive infrastructures.

Hardware + Software

The strategic HW+SW coalitions represent the biggest block in the overall comparison, exemplifying the rising value of data driven end-to-end solutions. Hardware manufacturers are currently under extreme pressure and software partnerships are the biggest opportunity to reach the actual clients’ needs: actionable data.

  • Flyability and SkyFutures have partnered up to launch a fully integrated solution for drone-based industrial inspection, merging the critical infrastructure platform (Elios) with inspection software.
  • DroneDeploy and Aeryon Labs teamed up to enable operators capturing imagery using the Aeryon SkyRanger UAV and process it into maps and 3D models on the DroneDeploy platform.
  • 3DR and DJI announced that 3DR’s “Site Scan” software will now work on DJI drones, starting with the Phantom 4 and eventually expanding from there to support other drones in DJI’s product line.

Hardware + Service

HW+SV is a strong combination and often used as an additional sales channel, or to offer a true end-to-end solution. Drone acquired data must be translated into actions. So why not add value through a partner experienced in data uploads to machinery? The following are a few examples of this strategic partnership:

  • John Deere will offer their customers the Kespry aerial intelligence systems. The deal could prove a boon for sales of Kespry’s drones and data analytics software. It could help John Deere tap into new, high-tech means of generating sales and profits in construction and forestry.
  • Flyability’s and MFE Rentals’ partnership enables the Swiss-based drone manufacturer to accelerate the use of the Elios in North America.
  • Freedom Class and SME360 partnered to manage and promote the newly sanctioned FAI Freedom Class and Freedom 500 Drone Racing series globally.

Software + Software

There are a lot of industry-specific software solutions available today. Yet, these niche products need extensions, exposure, and multifunctionality to successfully make their way into industrial applications. Strategic SW+SW partnerships provide a tremendous competitive advantage. Remember: software eats the word!

  • DroneDeploy and Skyward: the two companies will collaborate on an integrated approach that relieves compliance pain and streamlines overall drone operations.
  • PrecisionHawk and AkitaBox partnered to capture data and automatically generate a 3D point cloud, 2D orthographic views, and 3D mesh data models that can be fed into AkitaBox for further analysis and long term planning.
  • 3DR’s Site Scan software and Pix4D’s leading photogrammetry engine offers an industry first: multi-engine photogrammetry processing for aerial data products.

Software + Service

Software as a service business models have revolutionized the world, and SW+SV sales partnerships can supply additional leverage on these models. Service providers on the other hand often require a niche software solution to launch a new business branch, as our first example shows:

  • Airmap and Rakuten’s UTM platform will provide situational awareness for airspace managers. Rakuten entered the commercial drone field with the launch of the Sora Raku, a drone delivery service in April 2016.
  • Airware and Luck Stone partnered to expand UAV data collection processes. Airware’s technology improves operational efficiency with its powerful analytics tools, which were developed specifically for the mining and aggregate industry.
  • DroneBase and Getty Images, a global leader in visual communication, signed a worldwide content distribution deal with the leading global drone pilot platform DroneBase. The agreement allows the supply of high-quality 4K videos to over one million customers.

Service + Service

A partnership between SV+SV providers is a promise for something big. Presuming that both providers already possess the required hardware, software, and sales channels it represents the most comprehensive (“buy”) offer from a customer’s point of view.

  • Measure and energy provider AES partnered, allowing AES to ramp up the use of drones and to get more and state of the art drones on short notice, along with pilots to help run them wherever they are needed.
  • Geo Wing and Hawk Aerial now extend the range of services, sensors, and platforms and provide each partner with the ability to offer their clients superior survey and map products.
  • Camp Six Labs and 3M’s strategic collaboration will help wind-turbine owners achieve optimal performance and return on investment using 3M’s wind products, while simultaneously leveraging on installation efficiencies provided by Camp Six applicators.

What happens next:

The degree of drone hardware and software maturity is high, but the challenge lies within the integration into existing services and business models. Larger players will play an increasingly important role and make drone technology an essential part of their product/service line. Since competition will become much fiercer in the near future product portfolios based on strategic partnerships will have a great advantage, while the competitive pressure on the lone wolfs will rise.

According to Gartner’s Hype Cycle, we are on our way to the valley of disillusionment. This does not mean that the market will slow down or shrink – it means, the industries realize that there is more to the successful adaptation of drone technology than was assumed a year ago.

Strategic partnerships often lead to mergers or acquisitions which will further drive the market consolidation over the next years. Once the market is sorted and the “plateau of productivity” is reached (in 2-5 short years from now), the number of partnerships will decline. Deal sizes for mergers and acquisitions, however, will increase dramatically.

To push the boundaries of drone flight performance, batteries must become smaller and lighter. It appears that we reached a certain limit when it comes to power density. Lithium-Polymer (Li-Po) and Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) batteries have become very small and affordable, mainly driven by the mobile phone industry. This led to a wide adoption and today it is fair to say that the great majority of commercial unmanned aerial vehicles uses batteries as a power source (~96%).

Simply adding more batteries to the system will not create the flight times and payload capacities you are looking for. Now what? Given the current status of specific energies, there are some things to consider in order to achieve higher payloads and longer flight times:

The mass-specific energy (how much power [Wh] per unit mass [kg]) and the volumetric specific energy (how much power [Wh] per unit volume [l]).

Reducing this to the energy source alone would be wrong since the whole system (energy source + propulsion system) has an influence on flight performance. A source with an extremely high energy density (e.g. Kerosene or H2) will not help if the propulsion system (e.g. turbine or fuel cell) is extremely heavy and outweighs the savings.

The efficiency factors of the propulsion systems are very different too: While a battery powered system transforms 73% of the provided energy into movement, a fuel-cell provides 44% and a combustion engine only 39%.

Another factor influencing the decision for an energy source is the intended mission. Is the drone supposed to fly very long distances or carry high payloads? Is the drone going to fly in a limited radius or far away and above the clouds? These questions have a strong influence on the energy-source decision since they allow very different scenarios of operation.

Taking the propulsion system, the mission and the need to increase the energy density into account brings us back to the sources. The graph below shows the specific energy densities per source on a double logarithmic scale:


Yes, batteries again. The good thing about batteries is the infrastructure – they can be charged anywhere, in most cases can be transported without limitations, nothing can be spilled or inflamed, and ‘re-fueling’ is done easily by exchanging the battery blocks.

Li-Po and Li-Ion are the most common sources for drones but it does not mean that the journey ends here. Lithium-Thionyl-chloride batteries (Li-SOCl2) promise a 2 times higher energy density per kg compared to Li-Po batteries, Lithium-Air-batteries (Li-air) promise to be almost 7 times higher. However, they are not widely available and they come with a certain price tag. Lithium-Sulfur-batteries (Li-S) may succeed Li-ion cells because of their higher energy density (factor 1,8) and reduced costs from the use of sulfur. 

Hydrogen fuel-cells

Fuel-cells are fascinating: No direct pollution, no sound and they are powered by an extremely powerful source: H2. Comparing liquid H2 with the energy density [Wh/kg] of a Li-Po-battery, there lies a factor 150 between them! This alone is reason enough to bring hydrogen-fuels UAV to the market.

One company looking to take advantage of these opportunities is Protonex, a subsidiary of Burnaby-based fuel cell developer Ballard Power Systems. They recently delivered their proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells to Insitu, a subsidiary of U.S. aerospace giant Boeing that produces military- and industrial-grade, long-endurance, fixed-wing drones, i.e. the “Phantom Eye” or “ScanEagle”.

H3 dynamics and HES Energy Systems which is a cooperation between ST Aerospace, DSO, HES Energy Systems and FSTD Singapore has resulted in a breakthrough in solid-hydrogen on demand powered systems. H3 Dynamics, a developer of robotics technologies, has therefore announced the release of “Hywings”, a hand-launchable fixed-wing UAV capable of 10-hour flight durations and distances of up to 500km.

Hycopter by Horizon Unmanned System reaches four hours of flight without a payload and 2.5 hours of flight time with a 2-pound payload.  This drone makes use of its “hollow” structure to store energy in the form of hydrogen instead of air, eliminating energy storage weight.

MicroMulticopter Aero Technology, Co. Ltd. (MMC) is commercializing Hydrogen fuel-cells for drones, called the “H-1 Fuel Cell”. In addition, the “HyDrone 1550” is the world’s first hydrogen-powered drone designed and manufactured by MMC.

Korean Hylium Industries, Inc. is developing drones with a 4 hours flight time; Montreal-based EnergyOr “H2Quad-1000” reaches 2 hours flight endurance with 1 kg payload.

Intelligent Energy is also selling fuel-cell powered drones and claims: “Intelligent Energy’s air-cooled fuel cell systems run on hydrogen and ambient air to produce clean DC power in a simple, cost-effective, robust and lightweight package. They have a higher energy to mass ratio than battery-based systems and can be refueled in a few minutes.”

Metro skyways Ltd, a subsidiary of Urban Aeronautics announced in April 2017 that the company is developing a four passengers hydrogen-powered VTOL flying car, the “CityHawk”.

Petrol, Kerosene, Methanol, Ethanol, LPG Propane

There are many well established petrol-powered solutions available – some of them with a remarkable flight performance. UAV Factory’s “Penguin C” fixed-wing can fly more than 20 hours with one full tank of gasoline, Siebel’s “CAMCOPTER S-100”, 6 hours.

The beauty of this energy source lies within the combination of high mass-specific energy [Wh/kg] and high volumetric-specific energy [Wh/l]. Compared to Li-Po batteries, gasoline multiplies 48x in mass-density and 13x in volumetric density. Combustion engines, in addition, are robust, small, light-weight and have a good specific fuel consumption.

Another advantage when it comes to endurance is, that gasoline-powered UAVs lose weight over time making the platform lighter and therewith increase the range.

Gas-Electric Hybrids

Great examples are hybrid gas-electric engines from Pegasus Aeronautics based in Waterloo, Ontario or YEAIR from Berlin, Germany. Both combine the quick reactions of an electric motor with the advantages of gasoline powered flight. 

Solar Power

Solar cells have increased their efficiency over the last years from 10% to almost 46% and reach a power ratio of around 175W/m2. To power a drone exclusively with solar a large surface – like the upper side of a wing – is required. They can, however, work very well as range-extenders for multirotor drones as well.

Silicon Valley tech companies are exploring the potential of solar-powered drones: Facebook is making progress with its “Aquila” HALE-UAV (High Altitude, Long Endurance) to bring Wifi to rural areas, and Google X gave solar a shot with its now-defunct Titan.

“Zephyr” by Airbus is a High Altitude Pseudo-Satellite (HAPS) that fills a capability gap between satellites and UAVs. It runs exclusively on solar power and flies above the weather and commercial air traffic, as it reaches a cruising level of up to 70,000 feet. Boeing’s “Solar Eagle” was canceled in 2012.

OpenRobotix Labs is developing a Mars aerial rover – they also built the “XSOL-E1”, a solar powered quadcopter. A company spokesperson outlined that flight time “depends on a lot of factors, but generally, we can extend a 15 min flight up to 40 to 45 minutes using the solar assist technology.”

Solar Hybrids

Solar Hybrids (solar + battery) reach astonishing endurances. Alta Devices and PowerOasis have announced they are “partnering to develop the world’s first reference design for integrated solar and Li-ion battery power systems for small UAVs”. The reference architecture will target 2-4 meter (6.5-13 feet) span UAVs, using 5s-7s Li-ion batteries. The release date for the design is late 2017.


Tethered systems allow ‘unlimited’ flight time in a small radius – perfect for surveillance and reconnaissance. The “T1” tether system by MMC can support most drones, such as MMC “TDrone 1200”, DJI “Matrice 600”, DJI “S1000”, Yuneec “Typhoon H”, Intel “Falcon 8+”, Microdrones “md4-1000”, and many more. There are similar projects from Bluevigil, Elistair, Drone Aviation Corp and SPH Engineering.


Will graphene bring SuperCaps to new heights? In February 2015 General Electrics was sponsoring research work on supercapacitors. Primary energy sources such as internal combustion engines, fuel-cells and batteries work well as a continuous source of low power, but cannot efficiently handle peak power demands or recapture energy because they discharge and recharge slowly. Supercapacitors deliver quick bursts of energy during peak power demands and then quickly store energy and capture excess power that would otherwise be lost.

It seems that the capacitors are far behind the batteries in energy density but they appear to be a great vehicle to enhance agile gas-electric hybrid configurations.


Laser Motive has developed the UAV power-link technology, which power-beams drones equipped with a laser receiver. In 2012 “Lockheed Martin, with the assistance of Laser Motive, demonstrated its “Stalker” drone flying for a continuous 48 hours using a laser-based charging system.” Tom Koonce, Stalker program manager, said: “A ground-to-air recharging system like this allows us to provide practically unlimited flight endurance to extend and expand the mission profiles that the Stalker vehicle can fulfill.”

Germany-based Ascending Technologies together with Laser Motive proofed the efficiency this technology back in 2010 on a small quadcopter drone with a 12 hours’ flight.

Bottom line

All drone energy sources have their individual advantages making the usefulness mission specific. Hybrid solutions (source and propulsion system) are in line with the transition towards cleaner energies. Today it seems to be a wise choice to take the best of two worlds since hybrids allow to equalize drawbacks from a single technology. Furthermore, it might be a smart move to see where other industries are heading (e.g. automotive), since these are good multipliers when it comes to future cost reduction due to mass production and availability of infrastructure.