Real World ROI: Unlocking the Future of Successful Drone Adoption
At this morning’s Commercial UAV Expo Keynotes, Commercial UAV Expo Editor Jeremiah Karpowitz and Skydio Co-Founder and CEO Adam Bry discussed how the concept of automation and reliability inform the ROI of commercial drones.
Skydio’s platform is known for their ground-breaking autonomy, and Bry says that autonomy is key to maximizing the ROI of commercial drones. “We’re at a place in the drone industry where people who are experts in drones have figured out to do all kinds of useful stuff,” said Bry, “but you still need someone who is an expert to do that stuff.”
That need for an expert pilot can limit the scale of commercial drone projects – and limit the value of the commercial drone program. “We think the smarter the drone gets, the more useful it is,” Bry said.
The Software and Hardware Ecosystem—and Beyond
Skydio is recognized primarily as a drone manufacturer – but they also develop software, like their 3D Scan product used for applications like bridge inspection. Bry says that software and hardware go together to drive value.
“People used to say, ‘It’s not the drones, it’s the data,'” says Bry. “But if you want to get good data, the drone matters a lot… So we’ve really focused on making the drone autonomous… then you get consistent, repeatable data.”
It takes more than hardware and software expertise to work with traditional industries to start drone programs, says Bry, pointing out that industry knowledge is a critical piece of implementing new systems. “In general, if you want to change things, it’s really important to understand why things are done the way that they are,” said Bry. “These are industries that have evolved over hundreds of years… you can see opportunity for dramatic change, but if you don’t have a healthy respect for why things are done the way they are, you aren’t going to be able to implement that changes.”
“The drone and the software is only part of drone adoption…there is a lot more that goes into it. It requires specific knowledge of a specific application.”
Getting to scale
Getting industry to scale from small projects to company-wide implementation is a problem that stakeholders across the industry face. Adam Bry believes that limiting the expertise required to fly the drone and gather data is an important part of the equation. “We’re not neutral on this – we think trust-worthy autonomy is really a key benefit,” he says. “If you want to set things up for scale, setting up systems with autonomy in mind… is key to making the technology more useful to more people in the organization.”
Asked for his advice to stakeholders on how to move towards scale, Bry is practical about moving forward within existing constraints and regulations.
“Look for that incremental path forward,” he says. “Have the grand vision in mind, but take that next small step.”
Read more about Skydio:
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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