Drones: The Brave New World of Data Collection

Ben_HSMove over Christopher Columbus, it’s a brave new world.

The drones are coming!

Commercial drone use and their associated data collection capabilities are starting to explode in the farming, mining, and construction industries.

Expanded capabilities coupled with ever-decreasing hardware costs are ratcheting up the use of drones for functions previously done via other, very expensive means.

Several years ago, commercial drones with surveillance capabilities ran between $10,000 and $20,000. Now, most companies can get very similar capabilities with new drone hardware that costs between $800 and $1,500!

Just a snapshot of what these things can currently do includes:

• Real-time crop pictures for farmers to see how their plants are growing over hundreds of acres.

• Precision measuring and site layout for the mining and construction industry.

• Inspection of pipe, bridge, and road infrastructure spanning hundreds of miles.

• Real Estate photos of those hidden property gems.

• Monitoring of wildfires.

• Geographic analysis and topographic mapping.

This type of information is called aerial intelligence.

Until drones came along, intelligence of this kind was collected via very expensive platforms, such as satellites and traditional piloted planes outfitted with cameras. If you didn’t have the cash for planes or satellite imagery, you were stuck doing assessments the plain old fashion way, manually on the ground!

As you can imagine, surveying crop status or checking for potholes on a 600-mile road can get pretty tedious if you’re stuck on the ground.

But now, with drone technology, we can survey large areas in hours, not days. And the real-time surveillance data that’s uploaded allows us to take immediate action!

That’s all great, but what if you don’t know how to fly a drone yourself? Well, now there’s a solution for that, too!

Companies are popping up left and right to offer “Drones-As-A-Service,” or just DaaS. These companies connect businesses with qualified drone pilots and their associated hardware and software for a fee. Simply call them up, set up a consulting appointment to tell them what aerial intelligence you want and they do the rest.

One startup called Drone Deploy even offers custom software that automates drone flights and crunches the aerial intelligence data directly on your smart phone!

This past week, the Federal Aviation Administration finalized new rules that make it easier for commercial companies to leverage unmanned aircraft systems commercially.

But wait until you hear this…

If you’re worried about flying your drone onto a governrnment facility and having the secret service come kick down your door, underwater drones are the way to go.

A startup called OpenROV provides an open-source, low-cost underwater robot kit for exploration and education. Its Unmanned Underwater Vehicles, UUVs for short, operate off of open-source software that is completely customizable for your own Hunt for Red October mission.

Now before you get too excited, these underwater beasts come with a 100-meter tether and two to three-hour battery life, but it’s still a lot more productive for your young adolescent than staring at SpongeBob SquarePants on the TV. He can now see him underwater!

Commercial drones, whether aerial or underwater, are here to stay. These mighty contraptions are making quite the splash (no pun intended) as they disrupt industries that need to do business faster, more efficiently, at a fraction of the cost.

As such, I plan to make sure my BioTech Intel Trader subscribers are positioned to profit from this trend.

Now… if I can just get a drone to keep the birds from leaving “gifts” on my yard fence, I’ll be good!


Ben Benoy

Editor, BioTech Intel Trader