Drone-as-a-service (DaaS) offerings are third party based unmanned aerial systems or vehicles that use embedded systems (hardware and software) to capture and analyze data for others.

Others include Asset Managers.

Asset Managers are always interested in how to reduce their operating expenses. Methods include buying or leasing fixed and tangible assets. It is time to include (DaaS) offerings and services into their discussions.

Why?

Improving market conditions. The United States (US) market will exceed $18 Billion by 2022. (www.marketwatch.com)

More innovation. Artificial Intelligence equipped drones. Will improve safety (collision avoidance) and navigation (urban environments). Improving use and data quality.

Improving regulatory climate. The (US) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is modifying its regulatory position. To encourage commercial drone adoption that focuses on pilots not products.

Being cool. Momentum for using commercial drones is building. It will come from logistic and retail sectors. As vendors, such as, (www.amazon.com ),  (www.target.com) and (www.ups.com) begin to popularize drone usage.

Who?

Owning a drone is attractive yet for some the attraction may not last due to additional costs. Prices are dependent upon payloads, software and accessories. For example, drone manufactures, such as, DJI (https://store.dji.com ) list the Matrice 600 Pro on their website for $4,999.00. This excludes purchasing batteries, chargers, controllers, kits and flying time.

Asset Managers must factor in controllers, mechanical, personnel, power and regulatory costs.

If paying for a service is the better option. The marketplace is offering customizable (vertical-specific applications), platform-based or app-based (DaaS) services. These offerings are not exclusive.  Augmenting (DaaS) with other service providers is a possibility.

Vertical Applications. Companies, such as (www.floridaprofly.com), (www.kespry.com ) and (www.measure.com) offer (DaaS) to selected industries. That includes agriculture, construction, environmental, mining, transportation and mapping and surveying. These type companies offer  expertise in the form of customized equipment and/or vertical specific software. For example, Kespry offers “data software packages.” Shifting the focus away from drones to software.

All-in-One offerings. Companies bundle various hardware and software into a drone platform. Which is multi-functional and on-demand offering automated data processing services. For example, (www.airoboticsdrones.com) and (www.skycatch.com).

App-based models. Leverage the app economy and crowd-sourcing models to offer licensed pilots to anyone. These independent contractors, sort of, perform ad hoc or specific missions to collect and analyze data. For example (www.dronebase.com) offers licensed pilots in all 50 states.

These companies listed and others, such as, (www.airwave.com) and (https://3dr.com) offer multi-services from each of these categories.  Some by expertise and others by partnerships, such as, DJI with Dronebase. 

What To Do?

Compare the pros and cons of owning a drone or paying for services.

• What is your use case? Wedding photographers primarily use drones outdoors not indoors. A recent Skylogic study posted on (www.droneanalyst.com) website. List primary service areas for (DaaS). To include: aerial imagery, video, geospatial surveying and mapping. If you expect to collect large datasets requiring real time analysis. To reveal patterns and trends then consider (DaaS).

• What is your total investment? The initial outlay for a commercial-grade drone to operate includes, hardware and software, parts, power supplies, liability insurance and training personnel.

• Can you minimize business disruption? Do not assume DaaS augments traditional data collection, analysis and storage procedures. Data quality and standards apply for various datasets. Some asset managers prefer local to cloud-based processing. Thus, robust data management policies and procedures should be in force. Especially, if data captured is to be downloaded in real time.

• Can you integrate with enterprise asset management systems? As IoT, mobile devices and sensors proliferate. Asset Managers must adapt existing enterprise asset management systems. Drones using image recognition software should be able to update inventory systems. As they locate missing copper pipes in real-time.

• What is your zip code? DaaS offerings tend to be local or regional. The FAA is the exclusive regulatory authority over commercial drone usage. Yet, some state and local jurisdictions may retain minimal oversight authority. Affecting locales, prices and services.

• Do you know how to manage success or failure? This market faces challenges:

Cyber security (hacking),
Data quality and integration,
Liability (responsible party),
Privacy (over collecting) of data.

How can you aim small and miss small?

Follow drone-adept agriculture and energy sectors. Both are cognizant of how to make a good use case in terms of improving efficiency, data processing, time saved, dispersed and different locales, safety and overall costs. Imagine drones swarming over cornfields diagnosing and treating for pests or diseases or scanning neighborhoods for power disruptions in minutes.

What Do You Think?

Author Disclosure

I am the author of this article and it expresses my own opinions. I have no vested interest in any of the products, firms or institutions mentioned in this post. Nor does the Analyst Syndicate. This is not a sponsored post.