Contributed by Measure's VP of Product Strategy, Dave Bowen
As usual, AUVSI Xponential brought together a broad group of organizations working in the unmanned systems space, including autonomous cars, marine vehicles, and, of course, drones. While the group was as diverse as ever, we noted several major trends in the commercial drone industry that were showcased at the event.
Dave Bowen, VP of Product Strategy, at AUVSI Xponential.
Expanding the Use of Drones in Energy
The adoption of commercial drones in a diverse range of industries continues to accelerate, with the energy sector in particular showing strong growth.Companies that have experimented with drones on a small scale are beginning to expand the use of the technology across their organizations. During the panel discussion “From Starting to Scaling: User Perspectives on Building a UAS Program” Measure’s CSO, Jesse Stepler, contributed insights Measure has gathered helping Fortune 500 companies develop their drone programs through advisory services, customized SOPs and training, flight & data engineering services, and the provision of Measure’s Ground Control drone program management software. The other panel participants, including representatives from Shell, FPL, and Entergy, reflect the strong drone growth occurring in the energy sector.
Jesse Stepler (far left on panel), CSO at Measure, during his session on scaling drone operations.
The growth experienced by the energy sector has helped lift the industry, and Measure has been no exception. We recently enjoyed our best quarter of bookings to date and were honored to announce at Xponential that we received Frost & Sullivan’s 2019 Frost Radar Best Practices Award for Growth Excellence in the Drone Services Provider market.
Providing More Value with Targeted Solutions
Two of the major factors driving growth are the continued development of targeted solutions addressing specific industry needs and improved analytics to evaluate the impact of drone adoption through these solutions.In essence, commercial drone offerings are generating more value for end users that is being measured more precisely.
Assel Ayapova (third from left), Global Drone Program Manager for AES, with her panel on drone inspections.
Assel Ayapova, the Global Drone Program Manager for Measure partner and Fortune 500 energy company AES, shared her perspective on the importance of measuring drone investment ROI as programs scale on a panel entitled “Inspections Using Drones: Making the Business Case and Avoiding Pitfalls.” As Assel stated, AES has already generated millions of dollars in value through the use of commercial drone technology to supplement or replace existing methods of inspecting its energy production and distribution infrastructure. By measuring that impact in terms of dollars, AES has been able to easily justify the creation of one of the most advanced drone programs in the energy sector.
Measure has worked with AES and other customers to refine our product and service offerings based on the value-driven feedback we receive. One request that many end users have been making has been for more AI-driven analysis of sensor data. We noticed a lot of companies with improved AI products, and while there is still a long way to go for this technology to fully mature, Measure is seeing real use cases emerge now that are driving down the costs and improving the output of drone data processing and analytics. In fact, Measure recently announced its ongoing work with AES and Google to utilize Google’s AutoML platform for detection and classification of damage on wind turbines.
Strategic Partnerships on the Rise
We are happy to say that much of the value-driven growth we saw on display at Xponential has been a result of industry stakeholders working together.The drone data value chain is complex and involves numerous points of failure. Measure has adopted an approach of optimizing this value chain by working with best-in-class partners to tackle specialized parts of this workflow. Ultimately, end users of drone data are looking for full-stack solutions; to create a one-stop shop for our customers, Measure leverages numerous partnerships.
Dave and Brendon Conroy (right), Measure's VP of Flight Operations, with partners from AES and AiRXOS.
At Xponential, Measure was excited to announce a partnership with AiRXOS that will open up new operational use cases with huge potential returns by enabling BVLOS inspections. AiRXOS, part of GE Aviation, offers products and services that help advance integration of drone technology into the national airspace, and has received precedent-setting waivers for true BVLOS. By combining AiRXOS’ expertise accessing airspace with Measure’s established drone services pedigree, we will be offering turnkey drone services for use cases ranging from transmission and distribution line inspection to pipeline surveys to oil well inspection—unlocking massive commercial value.
This year’s Xponential show marked another year of expansion for the commercial drone industry and Measure. We look forward to the exciting developments set to occur before the next show!