Why The Drone Industry Has Not Reached Its Peak – Yet

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Spain's aircraft startups are shooting for the drone industry. Apart from a testing center open to anyone interested, there's a whole lot more to discover:

Barcelona is mostly known outside of Spain for its beaches, bars, sangria and never ending parties. That being said, there’s a growing startup scene as hot as the weather. Highly qualified technical profiles, relatively low salaries compared to the European average and the fact that the city itself is in love with innovation makes it a great testbed for early stage startups. Although what comes to one’s mind is typically apps, developers and digital media, there is certainly much more… if you raise your eyes above the skyline.

Good Examples Of The Industry

Since the massive breakthrough of remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS), better known as drones, a dynamic ecosystem has formed around these technologies. It’s quite amazing what a simple sensor can provide when put just a few meters above the ground.

In the film industry, Flyscan Barcelona is the case of a professional airline pilot who took his experience away from the cockpit and started sitting on the ground to shoot ads and movies with flying cameras. They are nowadays working in their own technology to make current aircrafts safer.

Companies like Hemav, founded by aeronautical engineers, are using drones for industrial inspection and also what’s called “precision agriculture”. That helps farmers to analyze and track the status of the crops for an optimal harvest.

Innovation: New Uses & What’s To Come

Benefits in these fields are critical when talking about emergency organizations. DEA Drones is building the foundations for fire- and policemen of the future by allowing them to use drones in their operations and connecting many other sensors to a single platform using internet.

In the particular case of dangerous events, there is also one company who took drone capabilities to a whole other level. Singular Aircraft started to look for a way to provide a solution for pilots who risked their lives conducting aerial fire fighting operations. They are building the largest fixed-wing drones in the industry especially designed for heavy payload cargo and fire extinguishing.

There is an obvious drawback in this world: regulation. Such a new technology with still unknown possibilities raises safety and privacy concerns among citizens, that’s why it is a very restricted activity. Not surprisingly, someone got that covered too: CATUAV, a very experienced company in the sector, built the BCN Drone Center. It consists of an obstacle free airfield with 2500 ha of segregated airspace only intended for drone flights. It’s the biggest place to test and fly UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) in southern Europe and is open to all companies, universities and interested individuals. Located in the Moianès natural region, only one hour by car from Barcelona, they can be easily contacted through their website.

So what does the future hold? Once the main technical, operational and legal issues are solved, it’s a matter of time until anyone without a scientific background can benefit from it. See, for instance, Malloy Aeronautics in UK with a Star Wars-like vehicle called the Hoverbike and Ehang in China with their Ehang 184. Both are testing new ways of human transportation without the need of roads or any infrastructure, and are easier to drive than a manual car. And this is just the beginning before autonomous commercial flights can start happening. These guys are taking the first steps towards a safer and more efficient world, so better keep an eye on them!

Everything’s changing and if you haven’t noticed those changes yet, take a look around: they might be on their way to deliver your pizza…



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Photo credit: Don McCullough via Visual hunt / CC BY