Looking ahead to 2022, it is time to start thinking about the 2021 drone industry. Despite the shortage of chips, new regulations, an ongoing global pandemic and the challenges of a growing sector, the drone industry prevailed in 2021. We asked our sponsors and partners to describe the 2021 drone industry in one (or two) word – and that’s what they said.
Brett Kanda, drone industry veteran and VP of Sales and Marketing at BRINC Drones, a maker of drone solutions for law enforcement and first responders, says the industry is changing.
“2021 was a turning point in our industry. We saw that the lion’s share of 90% of the market share with DJI and especially with key executives and employees in North America lost some of its momentum. This has given other manufacturers the opportunity to develop differentiated solutions that may compete with DJI in the near future. We also started to see the landscape change in terms of the mood of the end users. The need for bespoke solutions that solve niche problems increased. Regardless of the industry, the end user is becoming better educated and familiar with robotics and autonomous systems. What we’ve seen and felt as an industry for years is starting to spill over to end users in terms of ROI, value proposition, and capabilities for autonomous systems. “
For the BVLOS fixed wing provider Censys, the further development of the regulations for flights beyond the line of sight (BVLOS) has led to a lot of activity. Disclaimers are increasing, and customers are seeing the opportunity to take advantage of using unmanned systems in the field.
“We have seen an incredible increase in companies looking to start using UAS on a day-to-day basis and companies currently using UAS to grow,” said Kyle Miller, director of business development at Censys. “The number of BVLOS approvals that we won in 2021 and the drones sold are proof of the booming industry.”
Coiled up – like a snake!
Carl Berendtson from Commercial UAV always has an overview – and has a unique bird’s eye view of the drone sector with the largest Rolodex in the industry. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the Commercial UAV Expo had a great show in Vegas this year and is preparing for the future – when the out-of-sight flight will help fuel industry growth even further.
“I would say” coiled up “like a rattlesnake,” says Berendtson. “Held back by external forces, but still stimulated, under the waves. BVLOS will be the catalyst to set the dogs free. “
For the big drone dealer Drone Nerds, 2021 was a year of growth and development. “In a word, accelerated – we’ve seen continued growth in the consumer market and tremendous growth in the introduction of drone technology to the commercial market. So it really is an exciting time to be part of this evolution of hardware, software, and payloads focused on enterprise applications. Our Drone Nerds team loves turning various options into comprehensive solutions and experiencing firsthand the efficiencies that drone technologies bring to many industries. It is incredibly rewarding to see this accelerated growth, ”said Jeremy Schneiderman, CEO of Drone Nerds.
For Heisha Tech, manufacturer of battery charging and automation solutions for COTS drones, 2021 was a great year – and they expect 2022 to be even better. According to Lu Ling, CEO of Heisha Tech, there was a lot of development in fully automated drone systems in 2021. “In 2021, in a boxing industry, the drone developed all kinds of resources and set the stage for the world to be ready by 2022,” says Ling. “And 5G drones will create a fast lane for the industry.”
Optelos offers data management solutions designed to make drone data more valuable to enterprise customers. In 2021, the drone industry has shifted to a new focus on value and actionable insights, says Chief Revenue Officer Edward Sztuka.
“In 2021, we saw the use of drones in facility inspection applications continue to grow in several industries. Companies are going beyond the unstructured data generated by drones and increasingly looking to convert that data into “actionable” insights to deliver results that directly improve and streamline existing processes, ”says Sztuka. “For the market to continue growing, drone technology companies need to provide industry-specific expertise and insights from the data collected by drones to deliver meaningful breakthroughs to their customers.”
SimActive, developer of the Correlator 3D ™ software suite, provides photogrammetry solutions for a wide variety of industries including surveying, construction, agriculture, forestry, and mining. Dr. Philippe Simard, President of SimActive, says Dr. Philippe Simard, President of SimActive, said that drone programs are becoming more and more valuable to customers as drone platforms and sensors continue to evolve. “The technology is maturing as more and more highly developed sensors such as LiDAR are used,” says Simard.
Skyfish is a US-based manufacturer of precision drone solutions. Skyfish CEO Orest Pilskalns says 2021 was a year of growth for Skyfish – and agrees that the drone industry will mature. “The industry has just matured a bit, with more customer dynamics than ever, and more scale was required.”
As the drone industry matures, Pilskalns sees greater specialization in the functionality of drone platforms. “The use cases in the commercial drone industry are becoming more and more defined and verticalized,” says Pilskalns. “The value of ‘technology-ready’ drone-based photogrammetry is being recognized.”
“Engineers are now able to use drones to precisely inspect, measure and analyze critical infrastructures to meet regulatory requirements. With drone photogrammetry, for example, cell phone towers can now be modeled precisely in 3D in order to create technical quality ‘mounting maps’ that can be signed by the supervisory authorities … and this was not the case last year. “
Teledyne FLIR manufactures the thermal sensors that power a large and growing area of commercial drone use. From search and rescue operations to roof inspections, thermal imaging cameras combined with unmanned systems offer incredible value and an ever-growing field of possibilities.
New products and new use cases have defined 2021, says Kelly Brodbeck, Teledyne FLIR Product Management Executive. “Missions and technologies evolve along with features like improved thermal imaging performance and functionality along with reduced weight, size and cost,” says Brodbeck. “Matching needs and skills supports safer and more successful life-saving missions and more efficient industrial inspections.”
Dr. Will Austin, president of Warren County Community College, says the pandemic provided a unique backdrop for the drone industry to emerge in day-to-day work:
“2021 has shown remarkable development for the drone industry as the pandemic provided time for many technology goals to be achieved; Now we just need the regulators in 2022 to catch up with the industry goals and all the newly realized AI improvements to the systems. At the same time, our society saw the massive rejection of boring, dangerous, and dirty work by those who refused to return as the pandemic subsided; Let the drone industry provide robotic solutions for employers to revitalize our economy. It is likely that in the years to come, the drone industry will be recognized as the entrepreneurial venture that has allowed us to return to a new normal as we redefine the labor standards of the future. “
After all, our friend Sami Sarkus, the brilliant artist behind the HosiHo aerial photo page, summed it up wonderfully: “It was the most hectic, unpredictable and unpredictable year we’ve ever had, but ultimately the best since 2014! “
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional marketplace for drone services, and a passionate observer of the emerging drone industry and regulatory environment for drones. Author of over 3,000 articles focusing on the commercial drone space, Miriam is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam graduated from the University of Chicago and has over 20 years experience in high-tech sales and marketing for emerging technologies.
For advice or writing on the drone industry, email Miriam.
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