Great guest post by Rosalie Bartlett, top drone analyst. Working with amazing startups! Advisor @uaviators. Love tech, traveling, baking, learning, dogs & people. My Drone Newsletter =

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2015 was a big year for Commercial Drones. Drones were used in so many innovative ways! A few examples include:

Now that it’s 2016 (Happy New Year!) – what exciting things can we expect to see this year?

I created a survey, where I asked folks in the Commercial Drone Industry if they’d please answer three questions: What will we see more of in 2016? Less of? What are you most excited about?

Here’s what they said:

“Hopefully the FAA NPRM will become law and everyone can take the test and fly. The main 333 barrier is the requirement to have a pilots license, the NPRM did away with this. It will be interesting to see if this changes. Looking forward also to BVLOS to make Ag flights with fixed wings more efficient. 250 to 400 acres in LOS is too limiting. We need a new line of High quality VTOL fixed wing for commercial operations. Get the efficiency of 50 minute flight times, but with ease of take off and landing. Robust but lightweight carbon composites, low cost, as easy to use as today’s multirotors. Curious who will fill the gap left by 3DR, presently the X8, Aero and Iris+ are getting discontinued. So the Solo is the main 3DR drone. Can that compete against the many DJI drones in the small commercial sector? The future looks bright, but I do see more regulations for commercial drones. In particular we have to accept the NAS rules and become professionals. This will mean flight training schools, maintenance shops and lots of paperwork such as maintenance records and flight plans. If we want to be accepted by manned aviation we need to be professional. The end result is that although hobbyist drone numbers will continue to explode, there will be enough of a training and cost barrier to commercial drones (see Australia) to keep numbers growing steadily.” – @theUAVguy (Kextrel LLC)

“Large Asian companies will be dumping drones on the market to increase (establish) market share. Customers will choose design for compelling user experience, who has time to learn a whole new technology? US Brands will start to establish themselves.”Helen Greiner (CyPhy Works)

“2016 will be the year that sensor technology comes of age. This means drones will be better equipped to detect and avoid objects, and fly safely within close proximity of structures. Proving this improved safety will be vital to increasing public acceptance of drones. In turn, regulatory bodies will be in a better position to consider more flexible rules regarding drone use, which will benefit businesses both large and small. From retailers such as Amazon, wanting to bring drone delivery to the masses, through to precision farmers, who are increasingly using drones to monitor the health of their crops from above, this enhanced safety will bring us one step closer to realizing the full potential of the technology.” – Jean-Christophe Zufferey (senseFly)

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“2016 is set to be a year of big changes for the commercial drone industry with the long-promised FAA rules coming into effect. Much depends on what the actual wording of the language is but it seems likely that sUAS operations within line of sight will present a low administrative hurdle for businesses. Companies offering services will quickly thrive in agriculture, surveying, construction, inspection and other similar industries while package delivery, power line inspection and other geographically spread out applications will need to wait for BLOS rules. The industry has matured quite a bit over the last year with application-specific solutions now available making it finally possible for drones to live up to much of the hype that has surrounded them until now.” – Jeff Taylor (Event 38 Unmanned Systems)

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“It’s just the beginning. After 3 years in the industry, I’m deeply convinced that drones are entering a new phase, with data analytics at the heart of this evolution.” – Emmanuel de Maistre (Redbird)

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“Probably much of the same despite the hope for change to regulations. There should be some interesting new startups to accompany the manufacturers. It seems the trade show scene will rumble on. We look forward to meeting with customers to prepare them for what is to come and get them acquainted with the technologies and regulations. We are most excited about our upcoming work in Africa, relating to poaching, counter terrorism and the illegal use of dynamite for fishing. We have had great feedback from several partners who will be accompanying us on these trips across Tanzania, Mali and Zanzibar. Hope you all had a great year. See you in 2016.” –  Nathaniel Milner (Flier Group Inc)

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“A lot of law suits, 360 degree videos on YouTube, massive data integration problems.” – Kiat Oboler, Esq (Unmanned Aviation Group, LLC)

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“2015 was the year of drone cowboys, media scrutiny, and big funding rounds based on evaluations. 2016 is going to see tighter enforcement of commercial operations around the country. The year will be filled with less UAV manufacturers and more data hardware and software suppliers. We will also see the rise of professional service providers that operate in a safe and reliable fashion. The media will look past the privacy and safety issues and begin to focus more on the applications that can save not only the environment but lives as well.” – Brett Kanda (Verascan)

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“2016 will see a need for more infrastructure inspections using aerial data analytics with engineered solutions. This data will provide actionable items for solutions for land surveys, utility lines an distribution, dams and bridges, energy and especially rail/ transportation. The sooner we get to the BVLOS, the sooner ROI’s will be more robust for customers and will provide efficiencies to build a model to be monetized. I think the biggest opportunity will be for utilities to see and understand how to transport the RPA’s from site to site. I see swarms of drones. I see underwater mapping for ports and bridge inspections. I see advancements in data mapping with orthomosaic applications for vegetation growth and measurement. Probably the biggest opportunity will be using drone as a service. Why own a piece of equipment you use once or twice a year when you can rent it? You negate the capital costs to maintain it and the other sundry costs, such as insurance and payroll. It makes sense to be the SME (Subject Matter Expert).” – Bob Johnson (Solusia Air)

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“More ‘remote sensing’ activity as payloads shrink in size and weight. More multi-rotor options than fixed wing. Precision agriculture a booming market unto itself.” – Christopher Van Veen (Headwall Photonics, Inc.)

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“Diversity of uses: We are seeing a huge uptick in the perception of the varied ways drones can impact many types of business, from the more established photography of documentaries, real estate and events, to precision agriculture, 3d mapping and modeling of construction and wildlife management. We are working with so many fascinating industries and learning together how to use drones and software to help them solve problems they never thought were solvable. We are receiving inquiries and ideas from an amazing array of industries, working with them to ideate and test some truly incredible uses for drones, and improving automation and capabilities… taking our favorite “flying robots” to the next level of value to humanity. Shakeouts: Much like the internet industry in the late ’90s, there is also starting to be a shake out of companies that started a small drone services company, but didn’t realize that to be successful, it’s more than just flying your Phantom around. From marketing, social media and client relations, to video editing, software operations to building business relationships, drone services is like any other complex business venture. I’ve been in marketing for 20 years, and the drone services industry is moving fast and furious, keeping the most dedicated teams on their toes and at 110% dedication way past a fabled 40-hour work week. The daily operational situation is further complicated by the speed at which this industry is moving and growing, as well as the complexity of driving real business value to dozens of industries that you have to learn about and connect with. It’s not easy, and we’ll see a drop off of the companies that aren’t really driving business value. ” – Charlie Browning (Eagle Iris Aerial Video Marketing)

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“More acceptance, more equipment, more business.” – Rick Dobbins (Sky Sight Imaging)

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“We have seen big changes this year in the drone industry, we went from really expensive systems with a very limited feature set, to cheaper systems (<1000) with very powerful computers that can now do really advanced computations on board. I believe 2016 will be the year where we will see more intelligence brought on board drones, things like object avoidance, path planning, more precise control, safety features all will be brought on board. A lot of this will be driven by the high demand consumer drones are seeing, and as more and more people start buying these drones we will see more and more accidents and mishaps. And as manufacturers catch on we will see more technology be put in place to prevent them. 2016 will be the year of the so called Smart Drones.” – Jaime Machuca(Droidika)

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What do you think we’ll see this year? I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to leave a comment. You can also tweet me @rosalieinc.

Thank you!  Rosalie

If you enjoyed this post – you might like my Commercial Drone Newsletter. Sharing news about how drones are being used for business. Once a day. Monday through Friday. 


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