We have written before about the risks of drone technology, ranging from irritating to potentially fatal. Despite these, it’s impossible to deny the many positive aspects of drones and the uses they can have - everything from entertainment to entirely practical. With that in mind then, here are 5 drone startups to watch out for this year:
In April 2015, Nepal was hit by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. Over 9,000 lives were lost in this tragic disaster and more than 23,000 more people were injured; however, these huge numbers might have been even more devastating had it not been for drones. Remote villages were assessed and rescue teams dispatched in minutes instead of hours, potentially saving lives.
World heritage structures heavily damaged by the earthquake were mapped and analysed using bespoke tools created by startup SkyCatch. The company aided in the restoration process through data collection and assessment, as well as providing 3D models of the damaged sites to aid in securing funding for rebuilding.
This is the kind of data collection and 3D model creation that SkyCatch is focused on, particularly providing intelligence to construction workers that would otherwise be difficult, time-consuming and costly to gather.
Though Amazon may be the biggest name in the recent surge in excitement around drone delivery, they are far from the only ones to pick up on the idea. And while Amazon may be almost synonymous with shopping, there are still plenty of packages to be shipped from elsewhere.
Intent on giving shipping companies like UPS and FedEx a run for their money, San Jose, CA based startup Skycart is on a mission to deliver packages quickly and affordably. Logistically, drone delivery is a lot simpler and cheaper. Operating costs are significantly lower than a typical courier’s, the journey from A to B does not require a drone to follow winding roads, and unmanned machines can operate – in theory – 24/7/365.
Skycart might be a relatively faint blip on the radar at the moment, but if they play their cards right, they stand a good chance of being right in the centre of the explosion in drone delivery.
Not all drone startups are creating actual drones. The aim of Dronesmith Technologies is ‘enabling drone developers and innovators by providing them with the tools to facilitate the application development process’.
In March 2016, Dronesmith Technologies will be shipping Luci, an advanced flight controller for drones. Boasting reduced size and weight, and a wide range of options, it provides dronesmiths, as the company calls them, ease of development. Those without a large company behind them to custom build everything from scratch will find products like this invaluable.
Lily Robotics Inc. is one of the best known drone startups out there. Though the company’s product, Lily, hasn’t yet launched, they have raised over $15 million in their series A round of funding, and have racked up more than 60,000 pre-orders.
We at Startacus have pooled our drone- and psychology-related expertise and brainstormed tirelessly to work out just why Lily is already doing so well, and we have come to one unavoidable conclusion: she’s SO CUTE!
Touted as an ‘outdoor adventure platform’, the Lily Camera is basically a self-flying and waterproof video camera. Just cruelly hurl it into the air or at a river and it will prevent its imminent doom by taking flight. It will then track you while capturing 1080p 60fps video and take 12mp photographs. Probably as evidence.
As well as watching the company’s stocks soar and its name become widely known, we strongly recommend that you gaze into those cute little eyes.
We’re all aware of the development of unnerving self-driving cars, but what about hurtling through the air with no pilot? Perhaps Vires Aeronautics isn’t yet developing airliners, but it is producing the precursor.
Ora is a fixed-wing unmanned system being designed for commercial applications. The design is intended to increase flight endurance and payload, among other complicated things. It is intended for the support of agriculture, water management, infrastructure monitoring, land mapping, pipeline tracking, disaster relief, and environmental protection.
Though there are smaller drones being developed for some of the same tasks, Ora is more robust and is arguably better suited to bigger farmland (Australian sheep farming, anyone?), government bodies, NGOs, and perhaps even the military.
But we all know the real aim is that one day, when a child asks cabin crew if they can meet the pilot, the answer can be a chilling, ‘There is no pilot.’