On “Drones in America,” Guillot and industry leaders, influencers and experts explore the rapidly growing commercial drone industry in the U.S., guiding you through the complex web of technology, policy and more.
In this week’s episode, Guillot is joined by Michael Blades, Vice President of Aerospace, Defense and Security in the Americas at Frost & Sullivan. Blades’ main areas of research and analysis are unmanned systems and training and simulation markets, and he is widely-regarded by the commercial drone industry as an expert and visionary.
Guillot and Blades discuss the types of drone service providers who are poised to continue succeeding in the evolving industry, such as Tom Walker’s company, DroneUp. Blades believes 2020 will see the accelerated consolidation of various service providers and that the companies who establish themselves in niche end-user industries, such as energy/oil & gas, construction, and precision agriculture, will survive the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Blades also discusses his recently-released report, Global Commercial UAS Market Outlook, 2020, wherein he concludes that the commercial drone market is set to transition from a “nascent” to a “growth” stage. Blades echoes Walker’s suggestion that the drone companies who wish to continue growing should focus less on perceived regulatory lags and more on the opportunities available to drone operators under Part 107.
In regards to the Covid-19 pandemic, Blades acknowledges that some companies operating in the commercial drone industry are experiencing economic difficulties. However, Blades also notes that “the smart people who operate drones are going to figure out ways…to help with the Covid response.” For example, Draganfly has been selected to develop a “pandemic drone” that could be used to detect infectious and respiratory conditions while flying over people.
“Expect forward-thinking drone service providers to seek those partnerships that allow them to present prospective clients with comprehensive demonstrations or case studies that prove how their services can help mitigate future black swan events,” Blades explains, agreeing with Guillot that the Covid-19 pandemic will result in a net positive for the commercial drone industry “At the end of this there might be a renewed interest in drones because many existing [uses], and even some uses that we didn’t think of before this, will arise out of this pandemic and…that may drive some different definition on what urgent needs are with respect to the FAA approving or fast-tracking waivers to do things during times like this.”
In addition, Blades and Guillot discuss the importance of shaping public perception of drones and calling attention the great work undertaken by various companies operating in the industry, including AiRXOS and DRONERESPONDERS, as well as by individuals such as DJI’s Romeo Durscher and Adam Lisberg. They also acknowledge the important role played by drone journalists like the Drone Business Center’s Christopher Korody, DroneLife’s Miriam McNabb, Unmanned Airspace’s Philip Butterworth-Hayes, and Commercial UAV News’ Jeremiah Karpowicz.