Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) commonly known as Drones is an emerging technology with tremendous potential to revolutionize the way businesses were traditionally done. For instance, in agriculture sector (one of the major end-users of drones) drones have simplified the operations by aiding aerial crop health monitoring, crop survey & mapping, spraying of pesticides and so on; in industrial sector, drones have aided better and quicker inspection of operation processes. Though drones are an emerging technology, in the past few years, advancement in technology has aided the applications of these systems across industries. Drones are an integral part of future urban commercial as well as civilian applications.
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) market is a highly lucrative with companies drawing attention of venture capitalist with majority of investments flowing into startups. Since 2014, drone companies have raised approximately $300 million of funding. Shenzhen DJI Technology, market leaders for consumer UAS market, has raised $75 million investment backed by Accel Pertners. 3D Robotics has raised nearly $99 million of investment. Airware, Skycatch and Xaircraft have raised nearly $40 million, $21.5 million and$20 million of investment respectively.
As this industry is highly competitive, major players are stressing on differentiating their products from that of their competitors’ products while major focus being on the features offered. Companies are taking efforts to offer sophisticated technology. Earlier companies focused on features such as Wi-Fi, GPS systems, however, now the companies are focusing on more advanced features such as collision avoidance, image recognition, longer endurance & payload capacities and so on.
Shenzhen FLYPRO Aerospace Tech Co., Ltd (FLYPRO) has introduced a UAS, XEagle, with auto follow and obstacle avoidance functions with features such as voice control, smart watch to offer better user experience. Onboard Smarts, a subsidiary of Australian swarm UAV is developing image recognition software to identify and prevent shark attacks. UAS incorporated with this software is expected to be deployed near seas and oceans. Facebook acquired Ascenta, a U.K. based drone maker and aims to launch solar-powered drones to provide high speed internet service worldwide (including inaccessible locations). However, Facebook intends to restrict the use of drone for company’s sole purpose only. Sony’s smartphone division has teamed up with ZMP, a Tokyo based robotics start-up to launch UAS with technologies such as image capture & sensing, IoT as well as cloud computing technologies. Similarly various companies are coming up with technologies and features that would result in paradigm shift of business operations.
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