Drone Industry Major Partners Drive Innovation and Growth

What do Intel, Verizon, and John Deere tractors have in common?  An interest in what emerging autonomous unmanned aircraft systems can do.  Each of these companies have partnered with and/or bought a stake in the companies they work with to bring a blending of technology to market.

Intel acquired Ascending Technologies, a well established German Multi-rotor drone manufacturer, this past year.  They were already working together integrating the Intel collision avoidance sensor system designed for small UAS, called “RealSense.”  Together they have the design, sensor, chip manufacturing and programming experience needed to do almost anything.   The first collaboration, of course, was the Swarming drones that can put on a light show and display a heavenly view of the company logo.

Verizon just acquired Skyward, a drone operations software platform.  The Skyward Partner Network is tied in with PrecisionHawk, Drone Deploy and SenseFly to automate flight data logging. They have tested using drones to roll out temporary cell service to emergency situations or outdoor events.  They were early pioneers on studying 3G and 4G network use for drone control BVLOS, (see this article).  Verizon definitely wants to capitalize on monthly access accounts for drones.

Meanwhile, AT&T has paired with QualComm to test it’s LTE networks for use in control and data transfer from drones, while in the air.  BVLOS flight is expected to be one of the best uses for this pairing of technology.

John Deere is very technology oriented, as one of the first to integrate GPS systems with autonomous control of their farm & Construction machinery.  Now they have partnered with Kespry Drone, a California based Drone manufacturer, that also maintains a cloud service data delivery system.  The Kespry drone uses 900mhz to communicate with a tablet controller, that delivers the data automatically to a cloud account using the cellular modem in the tablet.  John Deere will use the Kespry drone’s precision sensors to create three-dimensional models of everything below. The models are accurate within centimeters, which then translates into precise agricultural practices, construction analysis and maps.

Recently, Caterpillar made an equity investment in AirWare, which firm recently acquired RedBird, (read all about it here).   It won’t be long before the only employees needed in a mining operation will be the Programmers.   Using Drones in an intelligent way can help the construction and mining industries cut costs while improving efficiency, is the thought at Caterpillar.

Now let’s get back to Intel for a minute.  Intel invested 60 million dollars into the electronics firm Yuneec in 2015.  This year, however, Yuneec has announced it will eliminate over half of it’s US staff.  That could mean that Intel was more interested in their manufacturing capacity for consumer drones, and the “People Carrying” products that Yuneec produces, like their electric plane, the E430.    This two-seater  won the Lindberg prize for electric aircraft at AirVenture in 2010.

And that is just the beginning of the story.  Intel announced in March 2017 that it would purchase the Israeli Technology Firm Mobileye for between $14 – $15 Billion U.S.   Mobileye is a leading supplier of collision avoidance systems for  Automobiles.

And then there is the E-Volo Multi-Rotor Project…

Who would have thought ten years ago that these companies would be in Aerospace, Photogrametry, Collision Avoidance, Defense?