The current commercial and government drone landscape has a major problem: It's completely fragmented. Proprietary airframes, hardware, and software are all struggling to compete in the shadow of Chinese firm DJI, which has around 70% of the global market and has battled rumors (which it insists are false) that it shares user data with the Chinese government. The commercial drone industry is not scaling as many predicted it would. That's the thinking behind Skynode, a family of drone avionics modules built by Auterion, an open-source-based software platform provider for enterprise and government drones. The idea is that drone developers and manufacturers can plug these physical modules into their stacks instead of starting from scratch building proprietary modules for their hardware or keeping existing modules compliant in a fast-changing regulatory environment.
The drone industry has reached an inflection point, with a handful of companies (think DJI and Amazon) dominating the industry. As a result of the reigning monopolies, it's nearly impossible for any single company to compete against overwhelming market share, along with an inability to easily scale and the fact that companies need to essentially reinvent the wheel to innovate. But that's changing, and in a way that may be familiar to ZDNet readers who witnessed the open source revolution in enterprise computing brought about the likes of Red Hat in the early 1990s. In today's drone landscape, an ecosystem of companies is working together to compete, supported by the government and powered by open source. No single aerospace or drone company can do this alone, but together there's every indication of a new chapter in drone development and competition.
Fifty years ago, Mike Sanders watched with awe and anticipation as the crew of Apollo 11--Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins--splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Landing men on the moon and returning them safely to the earth was a seminal moment in the history of flight, and it had a profound effect on then 7-year-old Sanders, who now heads the Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence & Innovation at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi. Looking back, Sanders says he never expected the day to come when he would be working with NASA on anything, let alone another chapter in the history of flight. But this year, he landed in the middle of one of the most important aeronautical projects of this generation: an effort to build a safe and effective unmanned aircraft system traffic management (UTM) platform. In August, Texas A&M–Corpus Christi's Lone Star UAS Center of Excellence and its partners' workers stood alongside NASA scientists and engineers as they flew 22 small physical and digital drones above and between tall buildings in five areas of Corpus Christi.
Increasingly the line between the two is blurring, with prosumer and sub-$4,000 drones delivering commercial-level quality and advanced flying features that just a few years ago were exclusive to the highest-end equipment. It can be daunting wading into the deep roster of drones designed for enterprise photography and video. Sure, DJI, long the market leader, makes some truly fantastic devices, but before you go out to buy the first Mavic you come across for your business photography needs, take a moment to appreciate the nuanced diversity of UAV hardware out there and understand the strengths and weaknesses of the current offerings across a variety of applications and budgets. To help, here are our top picks for enterprise photography and cinema drones, along with some advice on deciding which photography drone is right for businesses of all sizes. Disclosure: ZDNet may earn an affiliate commission from some of the products featured on this page.
Intermap Technologies ("Intermap"), a global leader in geospatial intelligence solutions, today announced the launch of its Lido Surface Data NEXTView ("NEXTView") data solution, co-developed with Lufthansa Systems, for the Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) market. NEXTView is a high-accuracy, global 3D elevation dataset customized for aviation applications. It is continually refreshed to ensure currency and compliance with regulatory update requirements. The UAS market is composed of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs, or drones) and the control systems that fly them. It is a critical time for UAS technology as it expands in many commercial, government and military applications around the world.