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What To Think Of The UAS Industry

How can we sum up the current unmanned aircraft systems industry? Our team gets asked that all the time.
By Luke Geiver | August 27, 2015

How can we sum up the current unmanned aircraft systems industry? Our team gets asked that all the time. If you are in the industry yourself, it is most likely something you’ve attempted to do for both internal and external communication reasons. The simple answer, I would argue, is that we can’t. But, don’t let the inability to explain the industry as booming, busting, stalled or growing as a driving factor that sets the context for all UAS industry questions. From our perspective, not being able to accurately summarize the industry (at least in a magazine length or less) is more than anything, a positive reference point from which to start all conversations on UAVs, drones, payloads, etc.

Look at our newsletter this week. The compilation of stories is greatly varied and diverse. A researcher is looking to a small platform to drop pheromone paste onto cranberry marshes in Wisconsin in an effort to stall the presence of cranberry destructing moths. The U.S. FAA, a week after issuing a report on small UAV encounters or sightings with manned aircraft, is taking heat that it hasn’t done more or taken more action to stop such reports from ballooning in the future. An Israel Defense firm has decided to make the leap across the pond and bring its large UAV expertise to the ag fields of North Dakota. The project, slated to use a large UAV for crop data, will be the first-ever in the U.S. A Texas sensor firm has collaborated with a startup drone company to collect information on the Internet of Things, a.k.a, the wireless connection between computers, modems, light switches, etc. Sony, a brand any television or electronics owner most likely has seen or has in their dwelling, is entering the drone market by offering a platform in 2016. And, Trimble, a surveying company that has made a foothold in the UAS world with its fixed-wing UAV, has added to its fleet offering and will now provide a multirotor to its current and future customers.

So how do you sum all of that up? Maybe our scope of coverage is so large it is difficult for us to accurately do so. Either way, here are some thoughts. First, I would like to welcome feedback from anyone in the industry on their thoughts/perspectives of the industry. I plan to post some of that feedback in a future blog post to give people a snapshot sense of the industry. Second, if I had to offer a quick summation, I would say this: there is energy in the industry, the kind you can’t see or hear but you can sense. It’s like the car radio or the television when either is on, but idled on a silent station. All it takes is the flip of a button resulting in and a blast of music or colorful image to remind us of that energy. The UAS industry is like that situation in many ways. We know there are tremendous applications being performed with UAVs every day, (If you are lucky like us, you’ll get to talk with the actual companies and operators every day) but we don’t’ always get to see or hear about them. Pretty soon (there are more than 1,000 commercially exempt UAS operators, firms or entities that can commercially fly for profit), no matter what you hear or see about regulations, debates, issues, etc., UAS and drones will be a part of our everyday life because the energy and usefulness they provide is too great. It’s not like many of us can ever remember a day without SiriusXM radio or a flat-screen TV.

Send your feedback to lgeiver@bbiinternational.com (BBI International is the publishing company of the magazine and website, FYI).