commercial drone business
City lights, Taos

Hi all –

First, I ran a little test and resent last weeks Dronin’ On on Tuesday to those of you who hadn’t opened it. Didn’t seem to make a lot of difference to the open rate which is one of the things I angst about, so we’ll stay with Saturday morning which works better for the news cycle. Hopefully, that works better for you too.

I had a busy week getting things ready for Commercial UAV Expo at the end of October. Halloween will be here before you know it – look forward to seeing
you there.

I got this text message from reader Peter B who runs a drone service business in eastern Washington.

“Hey, so I was wondering if you ever ran into any issues with people threatening to shoot down your drones (or if anyone you know ever has). I’ve been confronted twice this year by non-law enforcement hot heads and their sidearms thinking they own the skies… Luckily I know enough about drone law to spin it back on them and get them to simmer down, but is there a website or drone law blog that explains what should I do if some crazy redneck or meth-head (both are disturbingly common in my region) decides I shouldn’t be flying in ‘their’ area?”

I bring this to your attention because this is a growing problem for drone operators nationwide. If you lurk in the Facebook 107 and Commercial groups, you will discover that a lot of people are having all sorts of encounters of the dangerous kind. There is plenty of demand out there for some kind of “official” identification (I suggested a laminated license) as well as a sheet of legal speak to wave under the nose of over-eager cops who are another frequently identified operating hazard.

The big news of the week was the DJI Mavic Pro launch. This is a little bit like the Detroit Auto Show with Chevy and Ford going back to back. Mavic and Karma: A Tale Of Two Launches is a study in contrasts with remarkably similar messages about simplicity, spontaneity and storytelling from the sky.

DJI host Michael Perry led off with two startling statistics – they have calculated that 560,000,000 stills and videos have been shot from DJI drones over the past 12 months – a 200% increase over the previous 12 months. That reflects their market share – but it also demonstrates that this is something more and more people want to do. That kind of growth can only be good news for retailers with Christmas around the corner.

JD Supra ran an article looking at the insurance implications of Part 107. The attorneys at Michelman & Robinson LLP put it in an interesting context of Value vs. Risk. They noted that “Drones have the potential to both solve problems and save costs across a number of industries. [But] As civilian and commercial use of drones rapidly increases and continues to evolve, the potential for misuse or incidents grows as well.” It’s a thoughtful article which touches on many of the issues operators and insurers are facing.

Jeremiah Karpowicz from Commercial UAV News paid a whirlwind visit to MINExpo 2016, the home of Tonka toys on steroids. Some wonderful pictures. He talked to a lot of people about drones and reported that “The concept of the connected mine is one most attendees were familiar with, but many struggled with the logistics around actually creating or enabling one. How drones will be part of these connected mines is an open question that likely varies from one organization to another, and perhaps even from project to project.” Sounds like something that Elon Musk will put on Mars.

It’s a natural lead in to Drone Implementation And Gartner’s Top 10 Trends which takes a look at the forecast as it applies to “smart machines” (like drones) and a structured process by which enterprises can evaluate the appropriate technologies to support their specific objectives.

Digital Transformation Shifts To How looks at the diminishing role of the CIO and the IT department as many organizations decentralize in order to adopt new technology to meet specific tactical needs. Both of these stories are must read for buyers and sellers – look for more on adoption and implementation
going forward.

You can see this type of transformation looks like in Quantico where the USMC is working to find new ways to “wage four-block war (in) six domains.” (Can’t make it up but it is a pretty fascinating problem.) A big part of the solution is using technology as an equalizer (and which the bad guys are already doing).

“My goal is, at the end of next year, every deployed Marine infantry squad has their own quadcopter for aerial recon” said Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller at the briefing. “Maybe we can even 3D print mini-drones on demand. After all, in 10 years, we’ll be 3D printing chow. It’s gonna disrupt everything we know about supply — which I think is pretty cool.” Oorah! Actually the most remarkable thing about this article is the notion of cooperation with the Army and the Navy.

If you are really interested in disruption and transformation, reader Ping shared a new book called Swarm Troopers by David Hambling. “With modern combat aircraft costing upwards of $100,000,000, the military will face a choice between a single manned plane or a swarm of fifty thousand drones. Except that off-the-shelf electronics are getting more powerful and cheaper, so small drones will continue to fall in price while getting ever more capable.” Subscribe today and get your copy for 99 cents ($0.99)! Definitely a stocking stuffer.

Footnote: The going price for Northrop’s new B21 is US$550M+ – call it two for a billion. Such a deal. You can buy a nice assortment of Mavics, Karmas and extra propellers for that.

Drone racing continues to gain in popularity. International Drone Expo (IDE) will host the finals of the IDE Drone Race Cup championship at the Los Angeles Convention Center December 9-10. Their partner, MultiGP, is designing an indoor race course with advanced obstacles. This should be very cool since we’ll be able to get really close to the action. Mark your calendars. Zoom. Zoom. Zoom.

Fair is fair, so this week the DJI Mavic Pro launch video gets the coveted Eye Candy Tag Award. Is it better? Different – more product oriented, much more international. Not as pretty or as polished, but a better sales piece – and they have FPV goggles too. Once again, simply marvel at the value.

Thanks for reading and for sharing.


Christopher Korody
follow me @dronewriter

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