August 14, 2022

Drone companies want other robots besides drones — and here’s proof


Given that you’re reading The Drone Girl, you mostly want to read about drones, surely. But the reality is, drones have paved a way for other robots besides drones to proliferate. We’re increasingly seeing drone companies themselves start to sell or operate other robots that don’t necessarily fly.

And data from the DroneAnalyst 2021 Market Sector Report proves it with more than just anecdotal evidence. That report found that 17% of organizations or companies with drone programs have already purchased at least one other type of robotics system. An additional 22% say they at least have plans to do so.

The reality is that — while we’ve fallen in love with drones — flying robots are just one of a myriad of uncrewed or robotic systems.

Energy and utility companies are especially interested in branching out their root collections, with 63% of companies in that category suggesting their intent to purchase other robots, according to DroneAnalyst.

Of those that have purchased other robotics systems, the most popular ones are:

  1. Quadruped systems
  2. Other ground-based imaging systems
  3. Maritime systems
  4. Other system
Chart via DroneAnalyst

Most of the other robots are also ground-based systems. Maritime systems take up the smallest chunk of the pie. There was a brief underwater drone craze that seemed to peak around 2017 with drones including PowerVision’s PowerRay. Underwater drones like the PowerRay are still easily available for purchase, but we don’t hear much about them. Other types of maritime systems include uncrewed sonar boats and rovers.

powerray powervision
The PowerVision PowerRay underwater drone

Some major drone companies have recently made big moves into the realm of other robots besides drones. In 2021, drone mapping startup DroneDeploy announced that it had acquired Rocos, a New Zealand-based robotics software company. Rocos builds a cloud platform meant for building and managing all sorts of robotic operations, agnostic to actual robot type.

And the year prior, DroneDeploy announced the launch of 360 Walkthrough, which works with both aerial and any on-the-ground 360-cameras (hand-held or robotic). 360 Walkthrough, which provides comprehensive digital reconstruction of any job site, has been used by prominent companies including Boston Dynamics, which is famous for its creepy cool parkour robot.

Spot Boston Dynamics 360 Walkthrough
The Spot robot, from Boston Dynamics, can work with DroneDeploy’s 360Walkthrough.

Even drone hobbyists are beginning to turn their attention to other sorts of robots. Popular drone training site Drone Dojo, which is famous for its course teaching you how to build a Raspberry Pi drone (and its accompanying Raspberry Pi drone kit) recently launched a separate Pixhawk Rover Kit. That kit relies on ArduRover and Raspberry Pi to help hobbyists and small business owners build rovers for similar use cases to what drones might do, but on the ground, such as obstacle avoidance, rover delivery and computer vision.

Why other robots besides drones are important

A transition between drones and other robots makes sense. For example, a solar company might fly a drone over a solar power plant to identify thermal hotspots. From there, ground robots could automatically activate, walking under the hotspot to identify the exact problem – all with no human intervention needed.

And drone entrepreneurs can likely profit off of this interest in other tech.

“This opens an opportunity for OEMs, developers, service providers and resellers in the sUAS space to extend into other uncrewed domains,” according to a DroneAnalyst statement. “Our findings show adoption of other robotic systems exists, and we assume it is likely to grow in the coming years as more robotic systems reach maturity. Drone industry stakeholders will be smart to consider how they may be able to enter the broader industrial robotics market while business and agency users consider their need for uncrewed systems holistically instead of focusing on just a single domain.”

Check out the entire DroneAnalyst 2021 Drone Market Sector Report here.

The post Drone companies want other robots besides drones — and here’s proof appeared first on The Drone Girl.


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