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  • Charles Wimbley

The Drone Industry Four Critical Lessons Learned in 2020

The drone industry moves at a frenetic pace. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep up with the myriad of innovations, changes and updates that occur on the daily. It almost feels like a year in the drone industry can be measured in dog years. Although there were many critical events that transpired over what can be described as an unforgettable year, here are four significant lessons and takeaways that were learned in 2020:

1. Remote ID is Coming!

At the present moment, drones can fly in complete anonymity. In other words, if you see a drone in the sky, no one, including police authorities, will be able to determine the name of the pilot or the identification of that particular drone. The only time a drone can actually be identified is when it is on ground where the serial number or registration number can easily be viewed on the side of the plastic body shell. Well, things are going to change since the FAA declared that Remote ID is coming to drones in 2022 or 2023. So, what is Remote ID? In simplest terms, it is a specialized wireless broadcast signal that provides authorities - in real time - your drone’s identity via serial number. It’s like having a digital license plate or vin number in the sky. In addition to your ID being revealed, Remote ID will also broadcast important telemetry information such as longitude and latitude of the control station – and more. So for all you drone pilots out there, get ready to be put on blast in the sky and held more accountable – because Remote ID is coming to a drone near you!

2. Drones are Being Used to Fight Covid-19

Unfortunately, we are all currently engaged in a global pandemic – and it is changing almost every aspect of our collective lives. One of many innovative ways to combat Covid-19 is by using drones. To date, there are over 320 uses for these flying platforms…and counting! Because drones can be used in a myriad of ways, drone service providers are repurposing this technology to help humankind fight Covid-19. Here are just a couple of examples:

a) Drones, attached with light speakers in China, promote social distancing by communicating with local citizens not to congregate in large clusters.

b) Agricultural drones in urban areas are used to spray disinfectant on surfaces in order to kill the Covid-19 virus.

c) Drones with thermal sensors can detect the body temperature of potentially sick individuals from a very safe distance – and with great accuracy.

3. Made in America - Government blacklisting of Drone Manufacturer DJI

Right now, China and the United States are currently engaged in a trade war. Dominant drone manufacturer – DJI - is caught in between the cross hairs of this economic showdown. As a result, government contractors are encouraged to source American made drones whenever a job is needed. There is also a concern of data security from China as well. So the US Government has prohibited many of its primary and sub primary contractors from using DJI drones. It is strongly recommended that contractors use American sourced drone companies as their primary flying platform. In today’s drone industry - “Made in America” matters more than ever.

4. Perception of Drones are Changing

Drones are no longer viewed as a novel piece of technology that’s cool or annoyingly intrusive. Drones are now seen as a critical tool for construction, infrastructure, real estate, movie production and much more. This emerging new perception is due to the fact that drones are proving their worth in the marketplace on so many different levels. Drones are able to increase sales, safety, tell a better story, collect critical data, measure with precision, provide savings, gain better insights and even save lives. As a result, drones are proving their value over time and ultimately tearing down the walls of negative perception. In industries such as construction and real estate, drones are viewed as an essential tool that adds tremendous value. Overtime, drones will continue to prove its value and gain even more community acceptance.

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