Expert Interview Series: Kay Wackwitz of Drone Industry Insights On The State Of The Drone Industry And How To Incorporate Drones Into Your Business

Drone industry

Kay Wackwitz is the CEO & Founder of Drone Industry Insights, the leading market research company for commercial drones.

BusinessInsider posted a report on the state of the current drone market, as of 2015. They predict that military drone spending will rise to $13 billion by 2023. Why will the drone industry continue to rise in the military sector?

Commercial drones – just like military drones – are becoming more and more capable. An increasing amount of tasks can be transferred to drones, while decreasing the costs.

They also forecast that civilian drone spending will be up to $3 billion by 2024. What are some of the fastest-growing sectors of civilian drone operation, from what you’ve observed?

Currently, the biggest growth is evident in the industrial and agricultural sector. Applications in agriculture are rather easy and the risk in case of a crash is very low. However these solutions must compete with other sources of information, such as satellites. The industrial sector (mining, construction, inspection, etc.) is booming due to an incredibly fast development in sensors, infrastructure and software. Today you can scan an area within minutes and upload the data into a cloud while still in flight. Something nobody could even imagine a few years ago.

While military drone spending still greatly exceeds the civilian market, the civilian drone market is actually reported to be growing faster. Certain statistics claim that civilian drone ownership is expected to rise 19% between 2015 – 2020, whereas the military sector is only supposed to rise 5%. Why are drones so popular among civilians? What’s the cause of all the excitement?

Civilian drones are primarily perceived as great toys. Since chip prices dropped massively a few years ago (caused by the dawn of the smartphone area) recreational and commercial drone technology became affordable. Large scale production in China reduced manufacturing costs even more. The excitement is caused by the seemingly endless possibilities that are connected to the use of drones, while creating privacy issues and security concerns at the same time.

One of the things that’s holding the Unmanned Aeronautic Vehicle (UAV) industry back is FAA regulations, which could be lifted as early as the first quarter of 2017. What impact might the FAA regulations being lifted have on the drone industry?

The impact would be huge, especially for the commercial drone industry. The most valuable modes of operations are “beyond-visual-line-of-sight” (BVLOS) and “autonomous”. The moment these modes are available, business models will become very efficient and clear regulations will increase safety at the same time.

The drone market was expected to be worth $8.2 billion by 2018, but is already valued at $10.1 billion, as of 2015. Why is the drone market even exceeding people’s expectations?

Because it is unpredictable. Catalytic effects from other industries will continue to boost the drone ecosystem. A few month ago, for example, payloads like LiDAR scanners were too bulky and too heavy for drones. Only a few platforms were capable to lift them and to provide high-quality results. Today they are tiny and weight only a few hundred grams. This technology driven evolution will continue to exceed all expectations over the next years.

A spokesperson for the Association For Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) predicts that once the FAA lifts their regulations, the drone industry could create 70,000 new jobs and $13.6 billion in revenue, annually. What are some ways that drones might help foster new job growth?

The demand for drone created data will rise. This, of course. needs pilots, system integrators, engineers and developers. The main aspect, however, will be data analytics as sensors and systems become more capable. The result of each and every flight will be a large amount of data – data that needs to make sense.

What are some industries that might start to incorporate drones in the next few years, that haven’t already?

I think that there is hardly any industry left which is not using drones or is at least exploring its’ potential today. In most cases regulations currently inhibit the development of the promising industry verticals.

For a business that’s just starting to incorporate drones into their infrastruture, how might they go about getting started? How might they find the best model for their needs? Do they need any software to make best use of UAVs?

There are a lot questions that need to be asked before jumping into a drone business. If you prepare the start carefully you will be able to rapidly scale your business over the next years. First of all, you have to look into the value-chain and where the effects of drone operation come to play. What’s you budget? Make or buy? What sensor and software is able to provide the desired results? What are the personal costs for preparation, operation and analytics? All questions regarding business development are answered in the “Drone Business Development Guide 2016” and more specifically for each use-case in our „Drone Application Report” series starting this autumn.

Drone professional Alex Gomar, of HEMAV, states on Droneii’s website that “The next aeronautical revolution goes through drones and this is impossible without a big data revolution. I believe that big data is the helix of the drone.” First of all, how might drones bring about an aeronautical revolution? What is the relationship between drones and big data? How might a business take advantage of the big data gathered by a drone to make their business more successful or efficient?

The statement is absolutely true. Drones are capable of creating vast amounts of data in a short period of time. This leaves you with analytics. If you are able to handle this it gives you a head start to your competitors. Creating a frequent set of data e.g. in agriculture will show you dry spots in your field or where pesticides are necessary. Instead of watering and dusting the entire field you can now preserve resources while increasing yield.

Why do drone operators need to insure their UAVs? What are some of the potential risks of operating an uninsured drone?

Drone insurance is essential, both for recreational and commercial operators. Especially in densely populated areas the impact of a drone crash can be disastrous or even fatal. Lost GPS signals or the loss of sight are the main cause for crashes and buildings or trees are additionally increasing the risk of a crash. The damage that a lost drone can do is huge – a damage each operator will be held financially responsible for if not insured.

Want to know more about drone insurance? Contact us today!


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