Industry Intel #2

Industry Intel is a collection of business and finance related drone news stories. 

On the Horizon

A coalition of 10 news media organizations has entered into an agreement with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University to test drones for journalism. The group, which includes the New York Times and Associated Press, has long petitioned the Federal Aviation Administration to allow the news media to test drones. Virginia Tech is one of the six national test sites sanctioned by the FAA. (New York Times)

Meanwhile, in a separate partnership, the FAA has allowed CNN to test drones for journalism. The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement will allow CNN to begin testing drones at Georgia Tech Research Institute. The FAA will use the data from these tests as the basis for integrating news collecting drones into the national airspace. (CNN)

The Federal Aviation Administration will allow an agricultural company and a real estate agency to use drones for commercial applications. The Administration granted exemptions to Advanced Aviation Solutions in Star, Idaho, and Douglas Trudeau of Tierra Antigua Realty in Tucson, Arizona. The FAA has so far granted 13 commercial drone exemptions out of 214 requests. (ABC News)

UAS America Fund, LLC, an industry-supported commercial drone advocacy group, submitted a set of possible regulations for small drones to the Federal Aviation Administration. The rules would require operators to have a “demonstrated level of aeronautical knowledge” and to follow the existing rules for small drones, such as a flying under a 400 ft.-ceiling. The proposed rules are intended to get the commercial industry airborne “quickly but safely,” according to a UAS America press release. (Law360)

The results of an Associated Press-GfK poll indicate that a majority of Americans are suspicious of commercial drones. Of the respondents, 21 percent support the idea of commercial drones, while 43 percent are opposed and 35 are undecided. (Associated Press)

Drone maker General Atomics has tested a proof-of-concept sense and avoid system on one of its Predator drones as part of the company’s collaboration with the FAA. Sense and avoid systems will be crucial for the integration of larger, commercial unmanned aircraft into the national airspace. (General Atomics Press Release)

Meanwhile, computer company Intel has partnered with German drone maker Ascending Technologies to develop a system that allows small drones to sense and avoid moving and stationary obstacles, even in complex environments. (Wired)

GoPro is developing a line of personal camera-equipped drones. The drones will be priced between $500 and $1000. Currently, GoPro cameras are favored by drone users. (Wall Street Journal)

Alpha Media, an American broadcasting company, announced that it will start using drones for newsgathering. “We’ve entered into an agreement with a drone manufacturer, and we’ll be flying them in Portland, subject to the FAA’s new guidelines,” said Executive Vice President Scott Mahalick in a statement. The Oregon-based media group owns around 70 radio stations across the United States. (WTAQ)

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin has proposed to convert several Air Force manned U-2 spy planes into optionally-manned aircraft, ostensibly in a bid to compete with the Northrop Grumman Global Hawk spy drone. (Foxtrot Alpha)

The first-ever test flight at Nevada’s drone testing facility came to a very early end when the drone crashed…immediately after launch. (Gizmodo)

La Poste, the French national post service, is developing a multirotor drone to deliver medical supplies to difficult-to-reach areas. (The Telegraph)


Northrop Grumman secured a $657.4 million contract to provide South Korea with four Global Hawk RQ-4B Block 30 drones. The delivery of the four aircraft, two spare engines, and two ground control systems will begin in 2017. (Janes)

Japan officially announced that it will purchase three RQ-10 Global Hawk high-altitude surveillance and reconnaissance drone from the United States. The purchase is part of a broader $239 billion acquisition push, which includes a contract for 17 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft. (Asahi Shimbun)

NASA has awarded defense contractor Lockheed Martin a small research fund to study the feasibility of creating a drone capable of reaching Mach 6.0, which is about 4,500 mph. (Popular Mechanics)

The U.S. Navy awarded Washington-based Boeing Insitu a $41 million contract for three new RQ-21A Blackjack drone systems. The Blackjack is a small surveillance and reconnaissance drone equipped with a larger array of audio and video sensors than the popular Insitu ScanEagle drone. (Oregon Live)

Ehang, a drone startup, raised $10 million in Series A funding. The company, which is based in Beijing and San Francisco, makes the Ghost Drone, an aircraft that can be controlled using a smartphone and that has collected nearly eight times its $100,000 fundraising goal on Indiegogo. (VentureBeat)

Skydio, another startup, unveiled a navigation system for drones that allows the aircraft to maneuver around objects without human intervention by autonomously analyzing the terrain. The company announced $3 million in seed funding from Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Partners. (VentureBeat)

Analysis and Commentary

Dr. Mirko Kovac, a leading robotics professor at Imperial College London, has dedicated himself to finding ways to use drones for good. He sat down with the Center to talk about construction drones, hospital drones, rescue drones, and more.

Speaking at the 2015 International Consumer Electronics Show, Shawn DuBravac, the chief economist for the US Consumer Electronics Association, predicted that the drone industry will grow to $1 billion by 2018. (The Guardian)

At Vice, Jason Koebler argues that drones don’t pose a threat to aircraft as long as hobbyists aren’t flying near an airport.

At CNN, Ben Rooney reports that drone pilots could earn salaries of $100,000 or more when commercial drones become legal in the United States.

Defense contractor Lockheed Martin is reportedly considering developing drones for civil and commercial use. (Executive Biz)

Off the Shelf

Drone maker DJI unveiled the Inspire 1, a semi-professional quadcopter drone with an built-in 4K camera, autonomous flight modes, and retractable landing gears. The Inspire retails for $2,899. (Forbes)

DesignBoom compiled a list of the most notable drone innovations of 2014. The list includes Google’s project Wing and DHL’s package delivery drones.

PC Magazine has put together a gallery of the 15 most interesting drones that were on display at the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show.

India’s Ministry of Defense has announced that it will fund the development of the country’s first combat drones, the Rustom-2. (C4 ISR)

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