We have seen such significant interest in our services outside of the region that it was time to expand our business, and positioning, to serve a greater market demand. It is our mission and vision to improve business for the many industries involved in land management and environmental sciences in the Northern Nevada region and now throughout North America.
MARKET GROWTH: The industrial drone market is an opportunity that is projected by BI Research to reach over $12 billion in 2021, up from just over $8 billion last year. The FAA forecasts shipments of commercial “drones” in the United States will more than quadruple from 600k to 2.4 million units by 2018. Goldman Sachs reports that the total available market is over $20B. This is fueled by reduced regulation, new technologies, and integrated product solutions solving industry problems.
MARKETPLACE PROBLEMS: The consumer “drone” industry is exploding with new entrants, but competition for end-to-end industrial service providers has remained small. There are relatively few competitors in the market effectively addressing the problems of:
- FAA authorization for professional flight operations
- Off the shelf aircraft meeting customer’s actual needs
- Workflow complexity for flight ops and data analysis
- Sub-system integration with current practices
- Lengthy Data processing and analysis time
- Product durability particularly within the industrial environment
One of the most obvious sectors within the industry is aerial mapping. In comparison to existing practices, low altitude Unmanned Autonomous Vehicles (UAV) carrying various miniaturized sensors can produce survey grade three dimensional maps and vegetative analysis cheaply and easily. However, fixed wing survey UAV systems from companies like Sensefly and Trimble can cost $35,000 to $55,000 before purchasing the required post processing software or higher-end data collection sensors. LiDAR capable UAVs sell for more than $250,000. These prices are extraordinary and the aircraft are not durable and are ill suited for industrial applications. In each case the operator must navigate through a complex array of connectors, batteries, data management processes, and radio frequency issues. These complexities are often just a small portion of the challenge when facing regulatory issues, crew requirements, and business requirements.
AboveGeo can address all of these customer problems by providing affordable,
robust and simple flight systems.
THE SOLUTION: AboveGeo offers a patent pending fixed wing UAS with simplified take off and autonomous flight routing in a specific area. The aircraft’s sensors collect the type of data suitable to the customer’s needs, return to launch and land with a minimum of user inputs. When the user connects the UAV to a single cable the collected data, flight logs, and relevant information is automatically uploaded to the Internet and all the onboard batteries begin charging for the next flight.
Within hours, combined data is published to the user’s browser based map utility and the customer can take action on the information provided. A report is provided to the user on all the details of the flight including an analysis of the flight logs, reporting to the FAA, and alerts on upcoming maintenance requirements for the vehicle and its component systems. The entire process of complex gadgetry, file management, post processing, and data analysis is removed from the customer’s workflow. AboveGeo’s LiDAR equipped aircraft provide similar capabilities with real time output of results processed onboard.
FAA regulations are daunting and as technology develops, potential customers will adopt slowly. While AboveGeo’s customers are becoming familiar with the benefits of UAV based solutions, we will provide flight operations as a service. With decades of experience building and flying remotely controlled aircraft combined with experience gained while providing flight operations to industrial customers, AboveGeo will become a complete service provider to the emerging market.
THE MARKET – UAS MAPPING: Although the specifics of the “Drone Industry” are murky due to regulatory confusion in the US, one of the most obvious applications for the industry is mapping and inspection for construction, land management, and agriculture. The aircraft and sensor technology required by customer needs include fixed wing and multi-rotor air frames using a combination of RGB, NDVI, multi-spectral imaging, and/or LiDAR systems, all of which are part of AboveGeo’s service offerings. These technologies are only now becoming available for integration into aerial systems. AboveGeo will incorporate the advances of a rapidly growing technology base within integrated solutions for industrial partners.
MARKET TRACTION: Off-the-shelf “drones” provide excellent aerial photography for enthusiasts. While consumer devices enable beginners to quickly claim expertise, camera drones cannot achieve the goals of an industrial application and a “prosumer” often does not have sufficient capabilities to create industrial products servicing an industrial client’s needs. AboveNV has offered, and the market has recognized, the professional value that is needed to effectively deliver autonomous systems and services in a growing industry. Over the past few months, AboveGeo has performed services and established business relationships with customers including:
- SOC-USA / Hawthorne Army Depot
- Q&D Construction
- USDA/ National Resources Conservation Services
- US Fish & Wildlife Service
- NV Department of Transportation
- NV Department of Wildlife – Maps & Data
- UNR College of Agriculture, Biotech, & Natural Resources
- UNR College of Education / Fleishman Planetarium
- Truckee Meadows Community College
DEVELOPMENT PARTNERS: AboveNV has entered into development agreements with
- Cherokee Nation Technologies – Government contractor and master dispatching agent for federal agency flight operations
- F3 and Associates – Surveying, 3D data capture, measurement and visualization for industrial sectors
- NM Group – Surveying / mapping, asset modeling, and engineering for aerial LiDAR inspections on transmission lines
- Nevada Institute for Autonomous Systems – Nevada’s FAA UAV test site administration
- Nevada Advanced Autonomous System Innovation Center – UNR’s UAS development group
- University of Michigan Tech Research Institute – USDOT research technology for mapping the condition of unpaved roads
- The Cube @ Midtown – Business incubator and startup community center
- Event38 – manufacturer of precision agriculture aircraft and data processing services
- Sweepwings – airframe designers and unmanned sports professionals
Outreach Information: We work closely with learning institutions such as the University of Nevada Reno’s STEM Education department teaching in-service classes to teachers on Aerial Robotics. Our outreach program attends local maker fairs and air shows. We’ve taught classes at the Reno Air Races and held short courses for high school students in conjunction with Truckee Meadows Community College’s Workforce Development & Community Education. We’re creating a curriculum for the Northern Nevada school systems focusing on the Search and Rescue Challenge, a STEM program from the Academy of Model Aeronautics. We expect to hold courses for adults via the UNR Extended Studies program for both enthusiasts and professional development.