Cyberhawk, a Scotland-based drone inspection company, has logged over 18,000 flights and accomplished 25 world firsts with drones since their founding in 2008. The nine-year-old company has done the first drone oil rig inspection, wind turbine inspection, transmission tower inspection, and even the first internal chimney inspection.
Cyberhawk CEO, Chris Fleming, joins Ian for an uncut interview where the two dive deep into how Cyberhawk accomplishes industrial drone inspections for massive, global companies. Chris explains how using drones for flare stack inspections can save oil and gas companies $1.5 million per day in recovered production costs, showcasing how much is really at stake when providing services to their multi-billion dollar clients.
This is just one of the reasons that helps understand why, "if your hands aren't shaking, you aren't flying for Cyberhawk."
Drone Industry Review is a special, quarterly podcast series brought to you by Commercial Drones FM. It briefs listeners on the most important and newsworthy happenings from the previous quarter in the drone industry. Covered topics include drone hardware, software, regulations, funding, M&A, delivery drones, and how drones affected various industries in that quarter. This is the second episode in this series where we conduct the Drone Industry Review of Q2 2017.
Ian takes you to Europe where he investigates the inner workings of how a drone industry market report is created. To do that, he heads to Warsaw, Poland to speak with Adam Wiśniewski, Director of the Drone Powered Solutions team at PwC, who released a series of drone industry reports titled, "Clarity from above" that peg the total, global drone industry's addressable market at $127.3 billion.
Ian also makes a quick detour to London where he links up with Adam Bailey, Director at XYZ Kingfisher APS, a high-end drone service provider. Adam and Ian discuss the PwC drone reports and how they relate to reality.
Karen Jackson is Secretary of Technology for the Commonwealth of Virginia. She is the first female to hold that position.
Ian asks Karen to explain why Virginia is trying to lead the way for unmanned innovations in drones and driverless cars. Plus, the two discuss the dichotomy between state vs. local vs. federal regulation of commercial drone operations. Ian and Karen come to discover that a patchwork of regulatory differences could be very confusing for businesses who are looking to leverage drone technology.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) is Washington's largest private utility. They provide electricity, natural gas, and generation to their territory. Among other assets, PSE manages over 2,000 miles of linear transmission network in the Pacific Northwest and the company has recently been conducting pilot tests with drones.
Our guest, Mitch Droz, is a Commercial Development Manager in the Emerging Technologies group at Puget Sound Energy and is a certified Part 107 pilot.
Mitch and Ian take a deep dive into the myriad of ways in which drones are being used in the energy and utilities sector today. Mitch explains the use cases and value drivers which drones help Puget Sound Energy discover while using drone technology on dams, transmission lines, monitoring vegetation, inspecting transmission towers, and more.
This episode was brought to you by the Energy Drone Coalition Summit whose inaugural event is taking place in Houston, Texas on June 20th and 21st, 2017. Commercial Drones FM podcast listeners get 20% off tickets by using discount code "CDFM20". Visit the website at http://stonefortgroup.com/energy-drone-coalition-2017/
In April 2017, 3D Robotics raised a $53 million Series D round, bringing total funding to over $178 million. Daniel McKinnon is VP of Product at 3D Robotics and holds a Ph.D. in chemical engineering. He started at 3DR as a Product Manager and worked his way up the ladder. Dan is also an advisor at Agribotix, an analytics platform for farmers, which he co-founded. Dan and Ian discuss the aftermath of 3DR's Solo drone—the catalyst of the company's recent pivot from hardware to software—and get an inside look at why the company is now focusing on enterprise drone software for the construction industry with their newest product, Site Scan.
DroneSeed works with timber companies and non-profits to plant tree seeds, spray them with herbicides, and monitor their growth—all with drones. They're based in Seattle, Washington and are the first company approved by the FAA to deliver agricultural payloads by drone swarms. CEO Grant Canary and CTO Jeff Prouty join Ian to discuss how their drone company is built to help the planet maintain sustainable growth in the forestry industry and offset carbon emissions.
As evidenced by the mature corporate and general aviation industries, the drone industry has an opportunity to flourish with pilots who advocate proper standards. One prerequisite to getting a big contract for operating a drone for large organizations is understanding that these companies are risk-averse. They cannot risk hiring a contractor to operate drones for them if the operator cannot furnish proof of compliance to proper standards.
One way drone operators can begin developing this culture of safety is by implementing an SMS program, establishing documentation practices, and creating a drone operations manual.
Harrison Wolf is Technical Chair for the ASTM sUAS Operational Risk Assessment Standard, teaches safety management for drones at USC, and has his own drone consultancy called Wolf UAS. Harrison joins Ian to discuss how focusing on being a safe, compliant drone company can lead to huge rewards and has the benefit of setting yourself apart from the crowd of casual drone pilots.
Drone Industry Review is a special podcast series brought to you by Commercial Drones FM. It briefs listeners on the most important and newsworthy happenings from the previous quarter in the drone industry. Covered topics include drone hardware, software, regulations, funding, M&A, delivery drones, and how drones affected various industries in that quarter. The inaugural episode begins with the Drone Industry Review of Q1 2017.
Iris Automation is a Y Combinator startup who recently raised $1.5 million in seed funding to bring sense and avoid technology to drones used for industry. Buzz words like computer vision, deep learning, and artificial intelligence only begin to scratch the surface in describing what the company is building.
To sense issues and avoid them, powerful onboard drone hardware allows Iris Automation's software to track birds and other aircraft, predict their trajectories, reconstruct the scene in 3D at hundreds of meters of range, and then notify the drone operator of issues in real-time—or even take evasive action autonomously.
Alex Harmsen is CEO and co-founder of Iris Automation and joins Ian to discuss why sense and avoid technology is a requirement for building trust in industrial drones—and ultimately, how it should make them boring.
This is the story behind GoPro's harrowing entry into the global drone market. Just 6 days after GoPro released Karma, their first flagship drone, units began to inexplicably fall out of the sky, triggering a global recall of the product. There were many events that led up to this point but were previously unknown to the public. Forbes Staff Writer Ryan Mac joins Ian and tells the tale of how GoPro's Karma drone came to be, how it was rushed for release, and the ensuing aftermath of the global recall once these drones came crashing down. This story is based on Ryan Mac's Forbes article titled, "The Sky Is Falling For GoPro."
Ian reunites with past drone industry colleague, Gretchen West, who is Senior Advisor for Innovation & Technology at Hogan Lovells and Co-Executive Director of the Commercial Drone Alliance. Gretchen has been in the drone industry for 13 years. She brings her refreshingly pragmatic views to the podcast to give a lesson on how power is balanced between President Trump's administration and the FAA. Gretchen also reveals that Section 333 "closed set" exemptions were quietly revoked by the FAA and reviews the challenges of their waiver process, which is available to commercial drone operators. Gretchen and Ian close with some realistic advice to those who are interested in starting a company in the drone industry and suggestions on where the greatest opportunities exist.
On February 26th, 2017, DJI announced the new Matrice 200 platform at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. The Matrice 200 comes in three variants; the M200, M210, and M210 RTK. This new drone platform marks DJI's serious and well-considered entry into industrial-grade drones for enterprise. With hugely useful features like ADS-B, dual and top-mounted gimbals, redundancy, and IP43 classification, this multirotor is poised as an incredible threat to senseFly's Albris, Intel's Falcon 8, and Aerialtronics' Altura Zenith (among others). An estimated 38 minutes of flight time and compatibility with the latest Zenmuse suite of cameras round out the DJI M200's impressive specs. The only thing DJI has left to do is deliver.
Airware is a commercial drone company which was founded in 2011, a couple of years before the drone industry truly began to explode in popularity. They're somewhat notorious for having raised more venture capital funding than nearly any other drone company—over $100 million. Airware recently acquired Redbird, a drone software business which specializes in providing solutions to the mining and quarry industry. Furthermore, shortly after this interview took place, Airware announced that they took on a strategic investment from Caterpillar, the global leader in construction machinery. Buddy Michini, Airware's CTO, has been with the company since the beginning. Buddy sits down with Ian to discuss Airware's history, their strategic enterprise focus towards the mining and utility industries, and reveal learnings from 9 years in commercial drones. The conversation also touches on Airware's work with State Farm Insurance and tips on what skills are useful to start a career in the drone industry.
AT&T has 65,000 cell sites around the U.S. which require constant maintenance. Some of these cell sites can be towers that are hundreds of feet high and others can be massive stadiums with hundreds of antennae. The site maintenance is accomplished by 15,000 tower technicians. Technicians perform their tasks by risking their lives, physically climbing up the cell towers, or burn lots of time walking around stadiums for entire weeks, testing signal strength. Art Pregler is the Director of Construction & Engineering Mobility Systems at AT&T. The company moved from a drone "exploratory phase" in 2015 to "fully operational" in September 2016, with an entirely outsourced model—hiring 3rd party drone service providers. AT&T employs these drone service providers to inspect their cell towers via aerial photos, videos, photogrammetry, and even machine learning. Ian coaxes Art to reveal how—among other things—using drones decreased AT&T's cell site maintenance times from one week, to just four hours, a 900% savings.