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article imageIs now the time to invest in drones?

By Tim Sandle     Sep 4, 2018 in Business
As companies are increasingly turning towards drone technology to solve big and small problems, considerable investment is being made in drone startups. The market now generates billions in revenue.
Drones are versatile and their uses vary, from delivering urgent medical supplies, to taking images in hard-to-access areas, and for military purposes (where drones can be equipped to kill). With such a range of applications, it's no surprise that drone use is increasing and that many investors are looking to drone companies for the next money-growing opportunity.
As an example of the impact that drone applications are having on mature economies, drone use will add to GDP of most countries (two percent for the U.K. alone according to recent research from PwC — "Drones could add £42bn to UK GDP by 2030").
Taking the U.K. analysis, the research finds there will be more than 76,000 drones in use across U.K. skies by 2030. Around a third of these will probably be utilized by the public sector (sectors like defense, health and education), potentially adding £7.7 billion ($10 billion) to the economy.
In conversation with Forbes, Kevin Bolen, Principal, Innovation & Enterprise Solutions at KPMG notes the high level of investment that is taking place into drone technology. He also notes that even for big companies, there will be a reliance upon startups: "As the demand for drones increases, the scale and efficiency of the companies servicing this demand will grow and they will continue to optimize the performance and range of offerings faster than an individual firm could handle on their own."
Drones coming from startups will also cause considerable disruption. A Market Watch report finds that the next generation of commercial drones could replace much of the current commercial airfreight delivery systems. Applications threatening established process include 3D mapping, commercial pipeline observation, border patrol, package delivery, photography and agriculture. One advantage with drones over traditional means of surveillance is that drones are more energy efficient, last longer and have a significantly lower cost of operation than manned aircraft.
In the U.S. there are some 681 drone startups, which is the highest in the world. This is followed by 129 in China and 76 in India, according to an assessment by Bloomberg.
An example of an aggressive entry startup is Auterion. The Swiss company has recently raised $10 million in funding for its open source commercial drone operating system. The company has also launched its drone operating system an enterprise version, to be made available to other startups.
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