Drone startups transforming unstructured environments are reshaping the ways we collect data, transport goods, and protect our property.
Manufacturers: Startups in this category develop and manufacture drones or drone-related hardware. Companies such as DJI Innovations develop and manufacture aerial robotics technology for both commercial and recreational use. Others, like Zero Zero Robotics, manufacture exclusively consumer drones that act as portable autonomous flying cameras. In addition, companies like Global Energy Transmission Corporation, on the other hand, are focused on manufacturing long distance, high power wireless power solutions for industrial applications.
Terrestrial Imagery & Mapping: Companies in this category focus on imagery and mapping of land. Airware is an example of a terrestrial imagery & mapping company that allows enterprises to plan, fly, and analyze aerial data. Similar companies, such as Propeller, offer a platform that automatically processes photos from drones into maps, models, and inspection data. These companies typically focus on mapping for the construction, mining, telecommunications, waste management, and energy & utilities industries, among others.
Precision Agriculture: These startups have a number of similarities to terrestrial imagery & mapping companies; however, they focus strictly on the agricultural applications. Companies like TerrAvion help farms take a high-tech approach to improving yield and revenue with aerial imaging and data analytics. Raptor Maps uses remote sensing and data analytics to monitor crop health, which helps to reduce environmental impact while increasing crop yields.
Inspection & Monitoring: Companies in this category focus on infrastructure inspection or infrastructure health monitoring. Though these companies operate in many of the same industries as the terrestrial imagery & mapping companies, these startups offer services at closer proximity. For example, CyPhy Works is focused on research and development of small unmanned flying robots to be used for infrastructure inspections. Flyability, similarly, is a collision-tolerant drone used mainly for industrial inspection. SkyX Systems and Sky-Futures, on the other hand, monitor structures in the oil & gas industries exclusively.
Delivery & Transport: Startups including Starship Technologies are building fleets of self-driving delivery robots designed to deliver goods locally within 30 minutes. Others, such as Matternet, are creating automated delivery networks for goods, built on a network of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) operating autonomously.
Entertainment: Companies such as Verge provide events and venues showcasing live drone performances. Other companies, such as Cape Productions, offer customers the ability to fly drones and record media content remotely.
Non-Aerial: Startups in this category fit the definition of drones but are non-aerial in nature. For example, Clearpath Robotics is automating many of the world’s most dangerous jobs with intelligent service robots. Though they do manufacture aerial drones, they are heavily focused on land and marine drone technology. Other examples include Saildrone, which collects ocean data from a fleet of unmanned, autonomous sailing drones.
Navigation & Autonomy: These companies are focused on enabling autonomy or helping drones better navigate their environments. Companies such as Echodyne are developing high-performance agile imaging radar hardware with computer vision software for classification, recognition, and perception. Others, such as Iris Automation, are enabling safer drone operation through intelligent collision avoidance systems.
Airspace Management: Startups like Unifly provide Unmanned Traffic Management and Drone Operations Management Software. Others, like Airmap, provide a comprehensive digital map that allows unmanned aircraft system (UAS or drone) operators to visualize the airspace around them, including areas where they may not be permitted to fly.
Military & Defense: Companies like Dedrone have engineered a system that provides early warning of illegal UAVs and is used to protect industrial plants, government buildings, and other critical infrastructure. Others, such as Aptonomy, develop intelligent security drones that serve as flying security guards, while Aeryon Labs allows police, military, and civil users to easily collect real-time aerial intelligence.
Insurance Providers: Startups in this category provide insurance for drone flyers. Flock aggregates and analyzes data to quantify drone flight risks in real-time and Verifly provides on-demand, precision drone insurance.
Marketplace: These companies look to connect people through online portals. DroneBase provides on-demand drone services where customers can prompt a local drone pilot to capture imagery, video, maps, and analysis for a given project. Botlink operates a platform that connects drones to industry and gives operators real-time access to the data they collect.
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