Robohub.org
 

Key take-aways from the DroneApps Forum

by
02 October 2015



share this:

DroneApps_Conference_logoThe first DroneApps Forum in Lausanne, Switzerland, recently assembled 150 drone professionals from Europe, the US, Japan, and Australia for a two-day exchange of ideas. What set the event apart was its focus on reporting from commercial drone makers and commercial drone users — a more-than-welcome change from the orchestrated corporate news releases, crowdfunding (over-)promises, and CGI marketing stunts we’ve become accustomed to. 

European, Japanese, and US drone manufacturers were in attendance, with many reporting on the number of flight hours logged by their customers and their market shares. They pointed out current challenges, including the urgent need for more situational awareness for inspection tasks with multicopters, and the need for higher endurance and higher payload for monitoring with small fixed wing planes. 

Operators, including Robin Murphy (Roboticists Without Borders, Center for Robot-Assisted Search and Rescue), Cyberhawk, COWI, and the SNCF (French national railway company), presented case studies that highlighted the benefits and downsides of using drones to replace existing solutions. 

Regulators and legal professionals discussed the current state of legislation in the UK, France, Switzerland, the US, and Canada. They openly shared their concerns related to privacy, criminal activity, and liability — but also pointed out the importance to stay level-headed in spite of anxieties and fears. 

“Not every new technology has to result in a hectic activity of regulators.” – Peter Müller 

Discussions also covered software providers, including those providing aerial image processing such as Pix4d, Acute3D, and Agisoft. 

A number of the presentations are available here.

The picture emerging from this particular 2-day snapshot of the state of the industry showed what’s working today (e.g., fixed wing drones for surveying in the mining industry) and what isn’t (e.g., multicopters for autonomous inspection). Autonomous flight through airspace without obstacles seems to be well understood and operators have logged thousands of hours. Similarly, autonomous takeoff and landing of small fixed wing planes seems to be working remarkably well. However, autonomous flight near obstacles, such as that required for most inspection tasks, remains a challenge without adequate solution across all platforms. 

One key take-away from the forum was the stark contrast between doers, who constantly fly, and talkers, who stage drone flights for marketing and PR to help sell their vision. (Don’t get me wrong — I think both are valid ways to boot-strap a new business, each with its own risks.)

Some other key take-aways from this particular event: 

  • Innovation is led by startups, some of which have already accumulated significant operational experience. Major established players like Lufthansa or Swiss WorldCargo are lagging far behind. 
  • Most hardware and electronics seem to be coming out of Europe. Most high-level software, apps, and cloud applications seem to be coming out of the US. 
  • Drones are used much more to improve current solutions than to pioneer new application areas. 
  • In spite of all the media hype, it’s still very early days for commercial drones. 


tags: , , , , ,


Markus Waibel is a Co-Founder and COO of Verity Studios AG, Co-Founder of Robohub and the ROBOTS Podcast.
Markus Waibel is a Co-Founder and COO of Verity Studios AG, Co-Founder of Robohub and the ROBOTS Podcast.





Related posts :



Robot Talk Episode 89 – Simone Schuerle

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Simone Schuerle from ETH Zürich all about microrobots, medicine and science.
14 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 88 – Lord Ara Darzi

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Lord Ara Darzi from Imperial College London all about robotic surgery - past, present and future.
07 June 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 87 – Isabelle Ormerod

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Isabelle Ormerod from the University of Bristol all about human-centred design and women in robotics.
31 May 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 86 – Mario Di Castro

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Mario Di Castro from CERN all about robotic inspection and maintenance in hazardous environments.
24 May 2024, by

Congratulations to the #ICRA2024 best paper winners

The winners and finalists in the different categories have been announced.
20 May 2024, by

Robot Talk Episode 85 – Margarita Chli

In the latest episode of the Robot Talk podcast, Claire chatted to Margarita Chli from the University of Cyprus all about vision, navigation, and small aerial drones.
17 May 2024, by





Robohub is supported by:




Would you like to learn how to tell impactful stories about your robot or AI system?


scicomm
training the next generation of science communicators in robotics & AI


©2024 - Association for the Understanding of Artificial Intelligence


 












©2021 - ROBOTS Association