Intel has come a long way from just providing chips, and over the last few years the company has moved quickly to the forefront of the drone industry. With a series of acquisitions, including a stake in major Chinese manufacturer Yuneec, and the development of drone technologies that range from development platforms to a fleet of commercial aircraft, Intel is shaping the industry.
1. Intel is changing the way the public thinks about drones.
Intel’s Shooting Star drones – the cool light show display drones that showed up at the Super Bowl this year – have captured public imagination as a celebratory art form, a sort of alternative to traditional fireworks. “You can create precision art – you can use it for telling a story,” says Anil Nanduri, Intel Drone Group’s VP and General Manager. “It gives amazing potential for an artist.”
But the Shooting Star isn’t just for art or entertainment. The Shooting Start demonstrates Intel’s capability to manage a fleet of drones in close formation: something with significant potential for commercial applications. “Light shows are a great way to bring it to the audience – it’s creating awareness,” says Nanduri. “They’re a great way to reach large scale awareness in a short time.” Intel has worked on the Shooting Star technology to expand capabilities, and the fleet can now perform indoors, even without GPS. “We continue to push the technology boundaries,” says Nanduri. “That’s what we at Intel like to do.”
2. They’ve designed the perfect drone for regulators
Intel demonstrated the Falcon 8+ at AUVSI’s Xponential show this year. The commercial-grade 8 blade copter was developed for the industry – and for regulators. Loaded with redundancies and safety features, the drone meets the needs of regulators now and future, and offers the potential to meet the requirements to fly under a variety of conditions. “We’ve invested a lot of our effort in building this solution,” says Nanduri. “FAA has a big problem – they need to solve safety. We’ve been working with the FAA … and they’ve been very willing to work with us. The process has been collaborative.”
Building a commercial drone in anticipation of regulatory requirements and potential objections just makes good business sense. “It’s a pragmatic way of thinking,” Nanduri says. “It bodes well for the industry if we can demonstrate redundant, safe systems.”
3. Intel’s leaders are taking leadership roles in the industry.
Anil Nanduri has become a well-known figure in the drone industry. As has Intel’s CEO, Brian Krzanich. Krzanich is a regular speaker at drone conferences, and has become a leading voice in drone regulation. Krzanich was named head of the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC) shortly after it was announced last year, and spearheads the efforts of a varied group of stakeholders to prioritize drone regulations.
Nanduri sees it as an extension of Intel’s business approach to developing drone technologies. “DAC is an opportunity for us to respond to the needs of the FAA – we’re interested in solving these problems,” he says.
Intel’s stake in the drone business has grown exponentially, as has their position in the industry. While Intel drones may not yet be filling the skies, Intel’s ideas are; and their influence on a developing industry is growing.