Drone technology has become one of the fastest growing industries within the tech space and it's not hard to understand why. As advancements in batteries and other components have fallen in price in recent years, the practicality of drone utilization within enterprises has risen and now more and more companies have begun utilizing them in a myriad of different use cases.
As the popularity of the tech increases, as has the need for auxiliary services around it to help service, monitor and maintain drones. These considerations were the catalyst behind the creation of the first-ever dedicated incubator and startup service for drone professionals and enthusiast, SUAS Global.
Innovation Enterprise spoke to Robert Garbett, the founder of the Drone Major Group, the company which acquired SUAS Global in 2018, were we discussed the rapidly evolving drone market to get his take on the future of the drones market.
Innovation Enterprise: What constitutes a drone entrepreneur? Is it a growing field?
Robert Garbett: A drone entrepreneur is anyone who sets up a business within the rapidly growing drone industry (surface, underwater, air and space) and it does not necessarily need to be a business which develops drones; it may be in the business of developing counter-drone systems, sensors, charging platforms, cameras, software or even delivering services into the drone industry such as training, insurance or drone-specific finance. The opportunities are endless and as the most rapidly growing industry in history evolves, the opportunities for entrepreneurs are evolving too.
IE: Of the four SUAS (surface, underwater, air and space) types of drones, which sector do you believe is experiencing the most growth?
RG: At the moment, the air sector seems to be in focus with the exploration of new application emerging constantly. Maritime drones (surface and underwater) have recently been evolving rapidly alongside the emergence of the hybrid systems (air and marine or air and ground or all three). This is particularly apparent in the development of passenger carrying vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) systems which are attracting a lot of attention and investment. Space is just now starting to take off (if you will excuse the pun) with the realization that data taken from low orbit layered with lower altitude data is extremely valuable. More recently, there have been developments in the field of satellite management where drones are being designed to move satellites around in space to correct orbits or retire older satellites into a safe terminal orbit. I believe the natural evolution of drones in space is in the role of clean up, exploration and possibly mining. The issue in the short term, however, is the cost associated with launching drones into space which, although it is getting cheaper, is still very expensive.
IE: What will SUAS Global be offering drone industry entrepreneurs and what inspired you to create this service?
RG: The portal was designed to create a hub for the industry in which entrepreneurs can connect, collaborate and get the support that every business needs such as finance, opportunities, tenders, discounts and business support. As Drone Major Group exists to enable the growth of the global drone industry, we decided that a key element to achieving this aim would be to invest in the young businesses and startups which make up the majority in such an emerging market. In addition, we believe that anyone interested in or curious about the industry should have free and open access to engage with the industry. To achieve this, we have made access to the network available for free with some benefits designed specifically for entrepreneurs available via a professional level of membership.
IE: Where do you see your service and the drone industry as a whole in a few years?
RG: SUAS Global is already the largest network in the world which is dedicated to the entire drone industry and I see this continuing to grow as the industry expands. We are adding additional features and benefits constantly and will continue to work with our members to provide them with the support that they need as the industry evolves and it is evolving fast. Indeed, I believe that in two to three years' time, we will see a greater emphasis on hybrid systems and a shift away from operator managed systems to greater automation. This will naturally reduce the growth in the operator sector but there will be a corresponding increase in the growth sectors, such as software development, as the importance of automation and AI increases.
IE: How do current laws regulating drones from country to country affect your service?
RG: Regulations around the world differ wildly at the moment but this does not affect our service at all. We provide access to the latest regulations from around the world and, through our work in the development of global standards for the industry, we are steadily providing a basis from which common regulations can evolve as is the case in manned aviation. The greater issue is in the differences between the regulations for operating in different environments and more work needs to be done to develop common safety and quality standards for the development and operation of drones in each SUAS environment.
IE: If there was one thing you could inform the general public about regarding the state of the drone market, what would it be?
RG: Firstly, I would like to explain that a drone is not just a small flying robot, a drone is any unmanned system which is remotely or autonomously controlled. When taken in this light, it is clear that drones are already being used in a wide range of applications; but as software and computing power expands alongside new developments in manufacturing, and as technologies start to flow across environments, this technology will impact each and every one of us in a positive way. Supported by robust standards and regulations, the drone industry is set to expand even more rapidly in the years to come; so, if you are considering a career in this exciting emerging sector, all the support you need is right here.
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