5 Recent Events Involving Drones – Part I

 

* DJI Looking to Become First Billion Dollar Drone Company                                

Rated by Business Insider as having two of the top consumer drones on the market, Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI) reportedly earned $500 million in revenue in 2014. In 2013, the company raked in around $125 million in revenue. In other words, DJI’s revenue quadrupled in one year. Furthermore, the company doesn’t anticipate slowing down any time soon. Its sales in 2015 are projected to bring in over $1 billion in revenue. DJI’s popular brand of Phantom drones contributed to the increase in sales. The company is expecting a boost from its new Inspire line, the first of model of which can take 12-megapixel pictures and record 4K videos.

DJI is attempting to take advantage of the growth in drone investments by obtaining venture capital funds. According to data from CB Insights, the level of funding in the drone industry increased by 104% from 2013 to 2014. With the additional capital, DJI could possibly expand its production capacity and develop future Inspire models. The company will certainly look to become the cream of the crop in the drone space.

* FAA Proposes Regulations on Consumer Drones                                                    

About one month ago, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drafted rules on consumer drones that might deal a huge blow to the drone market. A few of the regulations that were proposed included the following:

  • 1.Unique licenses are required for people who fly UAV’s
  • 2.Drones can only be flown during the daytime
  • 3.The unmanned aircraft cannot be flown near bystanders
  • 4.The speed limit is 100 miles per hour (160 kilometers per hour)
  • 5.Maximum altitude is 500 feet (152 meters)
  • 6.Drones must stay in the user’s line of sight

Companies such as Amazon that wish to use drones as delivery vehicles could be negatively affected by these regulations if they are approved. For instance, a delivery drone would easily violate the line of sight rule. The barring of nighttime flights and the speed limit would delay shipments to customers.

The proposals will not become laws until a review process has been completed, and it can reportedly take at least one year to complete. Those who have financial interests in the consumer drone space will surely pay close attention to future developments.

* Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Inspires Japanese Drone Innovation                      

This past Wednesday marked the four-year anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. That event is one of only two nuclear meltdowns in history to be classified as a level 7 (the highest designation) occurrence; the Chernobyl disaster is the only other one.

However, the event has arguably helped spark drone innovation in Japan. Currently, drones are being used to measure levels of radiation at the Fukushima nuclear site. In addition, the Fukushima Prefecture announced plans to manage the mass production of hexacopters (drones with six rotors instead of four). These devices will initially be used to help sanitation crews monitor radiation levels at the nuclear site. Prior to these developments, Japan had been relatively slow in pioneering the drone market, despite its endowment of human capital in technological fields. But an emphasis on radiation safety, which was brought about by a catastrophe, is motivating the country to flex its technological muscle in the drone space.

The Autonomous Control Systems Laboratory will be responsible for hexacopter production. These drones are not initially expected to be affordable for the general public. The projected cost of buying one drone is between ¥2 million and ¥3 million (US $16,485 - $24,727). Therefore, businesses will likely comprise the majority of the demand for Japanese-produced hexacopters. However, the drone boom is only beginning in Japan. One can reasonably expect that a nation with such technological savvy will increase the efficiency of drone production over time. This could lower prices enough to encourage Japanese consumers to purchase domestically produced UAV’s.

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