The InterDrone conference held September 7th-9th in Las Vegas promoted itself as the largest commercial drone show in the North America. Considering they had 3500 attendees from 54 different countries and 150 exhibitors I’d say that’s an accurate statement. Although these numbers are notable the real indicator of how fast the industry is becoming service-orientated is not the number of exhibitors but rather the type of exhibitors.
Trade shows like InterDrone are no longer a pure play of just drone exhibitors. We now see flight training schools like Autel Robotics (https://www.autelrobotics.com) and Dartdrones (https://www.dartdrones.com). Insurance companies like Verifly (verifly.com/interdrone)are offering on demand liability insurance and there was even an ETF fund exhibitor (http://www.etf.com/IFLY) that only invests in drone-related companies.
Another illustration of how rapidly the commercial sector is developing comes from 3 DR’s Chris Anderson’s keynote speech. He pointed out that several years ago processing drone information was usually done by downloading the data from an SD card after the UAV landed. Although this was certainly less expensive than manned operations, it wasn’t a complete solution because the data could only be analyzed after the drone landed. In some incidences post flight data processing revealed the mission, for whatever reason, needed to be flown again. This could be a costly procedure especially if the area to be flown was a significant distance from the office.
In the future, Anderson explained, we will be able to avoid issues like this by using cloud based technology and real-time streaming data analysis. We should be able to connect drones to smart phones and to the cloud and clouds to other clouds said Anderson. Future drones need to be built around a native cloud architecture.
The content below is not meant to be a comprehensive list of products and services exhibited at InterDrone. I’ve simply a selected a few products I felt were interesting or unique.
- Dronifi (http://www.dronifi.com) Dronifi, one of the InterDrone exhibitors, is a Southern California startup that provides a service that could be a precursor to what Anderson is promoting. Data collected by drone pilots is sent to Dronifi where it is stitched and analyzed. Custom data reports are then generated and sent back. The UAV pilot then adds his logo and presents the information to his customer. This is an end-to-end service that lets drone operators concentrate on flying while Dronifi does the data analysis.
- Kodak (http://kodakpixpro.com/Americas/) Kodak is partnering with drone manufacture 3DR to promote their new Pixpro Spherical 360 aerial pack camera system. The assembly contains two Kodak SP360 4K VR cameras and a vibration-isolated mount that positions one camera on top of 3DR’s Solo and the other on the bottom of the Solo. This arrangement generates full 360 degree spherical videos. The aerial pack is shipping now at a cost of $999.
There never seems to be a shortage of new drones. Three of the more interesting new entries exhibited at InterDrone are the Yi Erida, the Power Egg and the Yuneec Breeze.
- Yi Erida (http://www.yitechnology.com/drones/index.html) The Yi Erida from Yi Technology is a full carbon body tricopter that claims speeds of 75 miles/hour with a flight time almost 40 minutes. It has a built in gimbal with folding arms and a range of .6 mile. The camera takes 4K video at 30 fps with up to 120 minutes of recording time. Price and availability information is not expected until later this year.
- PowerEgg(http://www.powervision.me/html_en/html/index.html) Power Egg from Power Vision collapses into an egg shaped form for transport or storage. It has an integrated 3-axis gimbal, optical positioning system for stable indoor flights and has both gesture based control and a traditional two-handed joystick controller. PowerEgg will sell for $1288 and is expected to ship mid October
- Yuneec Breeze (http://get.yuneec.com/breeze/) Yuneec’s Breeze, announced at InterDrone, is a small UAV that only weights a pound but shoots 4K video, 13 MB still images and sells for $499. It has five automated flight modes including orbit, follow me, and selfie. The Breeze is controlled by smart phone apps and images and video can be downloaded to your phone and shared on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Flight time is a short twelve minutes but, unlike many of the other products announced at InterDrone, the Breeze is shipping now.
I’d say the 2016 Interdrone Conference and Exposition was a great success considering this is only the second year the show has been in existence. The conference included keynote presentations from Michael Huerta, Administrator of the FAA, the CEO of Yuneec, Tian Yu and Chris Anderson of 3D Robotics. Although DJI and 3DR did not exhibit, they were major sponsors. Next year the show promises to be even bigger because it is moving from the Paris Hotel to a larger facility in the Rio Hotel.