From investment to hardware to proof-of-concept to concurrent market shifts, the commercial UAV/drone market continues its transformation from ad-hoc combinations to planned, industrial use.
Context and Timing
The 2014-2018 timeline across the X axis begins with the May 2014 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announcement to accept petitions for commercial UAS exemption under Section 333 of FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012. This “release valve” eventually accounted for more than 5,000 exemptions and enabled some first, concrete steps into commercial drone use within the United States. June 21, 2016, saw FAA release of the Part 107 rule, allowing commercial drone use within certain use parameters, operator certifications, and training.
Investment Ebb and Flow
From the investment perspective, tens of millions of dollars flowed through companies like 3D Robotics, Parrot and GoPro from 2011-2014 as they looked to capitalize on personal, consumer drone use as well as nascent commercial applications in high-end residential and commercial real estate, advertising and others. Downward hardware (drone) pricing pressures have been severe, and subsequent in-kind hardware demand waves have not materialized as planned. In part, this led to a paucity of investment activity and announcements for much of 2016’s second half.
Hardware and Market Focus
The drone (hardware) will continue to evolve and improve. A service life per commercial drone of closer to 1000 hours will embolden service providers to purchase in larger numbers if they wish to own. These drones will be more robust, easier to upgrade, and will be able to operate in a wider spectrum of wind/particulate/precipitation and day/night operations. In an increasingly competitive commercial/industrial drone space, mission-capable rates will be critical to keeping to a schedule and delivering data. So yes, it all starts with the drone.
The software is the alchemy of tying the entire Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) together, from command-and-control to sensor and data integration, to post-processing and delivery. This is critical, as the UAS is a system of systems, all of which must work in concert and have the ability to quickly spiral in new capabilities.
Vertical integration, and/or open architected, highly-reliable systems will pave the way for cross-industry DaaS, and Velocity Group is eager to provide pathways to commercial UAS product, production, and services.
Not sure where you or your company fits in the commercial drone market space? Feel free to “buzz the tower.” Contact us, today!