Product Previews at Commercial UAV Expo: What the Drone Industry is Doing This Year

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Commercial UAV Expo Americas started today in Las Vegas, and as the global audience gathered, 16 great drone industry companies took the stage for 15 minutes to let the industry know what they’ve been doing this year – and what new offerings are now on the table. A mix of drone, software, sensor and ecosystem companies presented – and proved that while the industry hype may be slowing down, company development isn’t.   Here are just a few of the new developments presented: from a multinational deep in the defense industry, a commercial and recreational drone provider, and an autonomous drone system for tower inspections and more.

Harris Corporation: Multinational Harris Corporation has had a significant presence in the drone industry, primarily in the military market.  The corporation recently merged with L3 Technology, and they’re now a 50,000 employee company called L3Harris.  The company’s tagline is “L3Harris Technologies Fast. Forward” and company representatives told the audience that the company is engaged in aerial technology well beyond defense hardware.  L3Harris’ Geospatial Solutions Group is creating enterprise software solutions to manage geospatial data.  They offer commercial, off-the-shelf software as well as enterprise solutions.   They use deep-learning technology to help companies get the most out of their aerial data – in commercial enterprise areas like utilities and rail.  The dashboard-based software connects deep learning identifiers with some business logic, to help extract value from large sets of aerial data.

Autel Robotics:  Autel has been one of our favorites since they put out the best Thanksgiving drone video we’ve ever seen.  They’ve come a long way from trying to make a turkey dinner with a drone, however.  The foldable, compact Evo – launched in 2018 – is a powerful tool in a small form factor.  Company representatives claim that the drone can be up 30 seconds after its out of the box; and they emphasize that they don’t geofence unless the country requires it (currently only China) and that while they notify if the flight is in a restricted area, they don’t prevent flight.  They also offer other solutions like Live Deck – situational awareness streamed directly to a screen without interfering with the pilot.  Next up for Autel: the Dragonfish, a fixed-wing VTOL with a 100 minute flight time, demonstrated at Commercial UAV Expo.  A 10x optical zoom camera is currently integrated – they’re working on thermal and other sensors.

Skyfish: Here’s a company you may not have heard of – but you might want to.  Skyfish is a software company focused on the engineering vertical, and they’re trying to get actionable, engineering grade data for large critical infrastructure from drones.  To do that, they’ve developed an autonomous system to gather perfect data.  It starts with a flight planning, navigation and ground control software; then a tiny onboard computer allows the drone to deal with conditions and issues.  A smart gimbal provides precision angles.  Skyfish also offers a large industrial drone – but they integrate with any Pixhawk 2.1 or DJI A3-based airframe; and they integrate with Bentley, Pix4D, and Autodesk data processing solutions.









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