DRONELIFE is pleased to present this insightful guest post by Matt Sloane, the Founder and CEO of Skyfire Consulting. As a prominent figure in the drone industry, Matt brings a wealth of expertise and firsthand experience to the table. In this reflective piece, he shares valuable observations on the state of the drone industry in 2023 and offers his predictions for the transformative year ahead, 2024. DRONELIFE neither accepts nor makes payment for guest posts.
2023: Industry Reflections by Matt Sloane
As 2023 draws to a close, I wanted to reflect on a few things about the state of the drone industry, and particularly on the public safety space; as well as make a few educated predictions for 2024!
First, 2023: A Year of Transformation
It’s been an unsettling year in the drone space, not because things are going poorly; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. The industry is realigning itself, reinventing to be ready for what’s coming in 2024 (I’ll get to that in a minute).
There have been mergers, acquisitions, strategic alignments, outright closures and dozens and dozens of horse trades. There are a lot of good people in this industry, some are in places where their talents are well utilized; others in places where they’re underutilized or outright wasted. This is typical in the early stages of any industry! The leader today could be in bankruptcy next year – much as we saw with juggernauts like PercisionHawk.
As the industry shapes into its final – or next form, lots of stuff gets jumbled. But all of that said, 2023 saw some real progress forward. Some real competition in places where it needed to exist, and some definite harbingers of where this is all headed.
It also saw ALOT of infighting, finger pointing and blame games. We saw the stratification of the “pro-China“ vs “anti-China” factions play out in a few spectacular ways; but it remains a hot button issue (perhaps the hottest button) in our industry.
2024: The First Year of a New Drone Era
So what do we have to look forward to in 2024? In so many ways, I believe the history books will record 2024 as the first year of the new drone industry. Gone are the “flying car” style predictions from 10 years ago of drones crisscrossing in the sky, and package delivery in 73 seconds from the time of order.
What will begin to emerge in 2024 is a picture of what the future will really look like. There will be package delivery in more places, but with more realistic expectations, and a lot of blood sweat and tears on the providers. There will be flying cars in more places, but they will be limited.
What will truly start to emerge are “micro-systems” of drone providers offering specific services to specific markets. Drone first responder capabilities are growing, and we’ll see a double-down or triple-down on that. Drones being used for emergency response, medical device delivery, life-saving technology, and much more.
Many former adversaries will find ways to partner – realizing that we’re better together than we are at odds with one another.
I also believe Congress will finally do its job and pass the FAA Reauthorization, the FAA will officially launch the rule making for Part 108, and a path to the future of BVLOS.
In the meantime, the Federal Aviation Administration will continue its heroic, albeit slow forward motion towards this new normal by allowing people who do this the right way early access by waiver.
There will be BIG consolidation among small companies, and a few (albeit fewer) failures than before.
I’m here for all of it!
Congrats on making it through ‘23, and cheers to what will be a very bright 2024!
Matt Sloane is the CEO and founder of Skyfire Consulting and its parent company, Atlanta Drone Group. Before he founded Atlanta Drone Group in 2014, Matt spent 14 years in various roles at CNN in Atlanta, Matt has also worked as a certified Emergency Medical Technician for Emory EMS, working his way up to Chief of Resources and Planning for the department.
Matt is an inaugural member of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) technical committee on drones, a technical advisor to the International Association of Fire Chiefs technology council, and an FAA-certified pilot.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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