Will there be a drone bubble?

Anyone that had a chance to attend (or indeed watch the highly professional video coverage from Shephard News) the recent Xponential conference in New Orleans will have noted the plethora of small commercial UAS firms aiming to make a name for themselves in an increasingly congested marketplace.

It’s an industry moving from its well carved little niche and into the mainstream. In doing so it ends up grabbing the attention of legislators, lawyers and other interests looking to harness its potential.

Or in other words, make some money.

But that’s ok and indeed should be encouraged. Such financial incentives are important in bringing up the level of competence and accountability for companies venturing into the unmanned world.

It was interesting then to note while at the show, and also discussed in the excellent ‘View from Above’ feature in the latest issue of Unmanned Vehicles, how Newco’s are reacting to the news that they really should have some sort of coverage while they whizz over rooftops and bridal trains taking snaps.

Some are moving quickly to get their business above board. Others are not.

Inevitably it will need something to go wrong for a company, maybe by dropping a $5,000 drone onto a Bentley or getting stuck in an industrial chimney, before reality hits home. If you are operating in a commercial capacity, it goes to figure that there should be some sort of insurance requirement.

Also, one might be tempted to say that the commercial industry, certainly for small operators more used to snapping a few photos for interested parties, may well be approaching some sort of bubble. In terms of opportunity, it is in many ways a Wild West, full of prospectors and hopefuls seeking to make their fortune.

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Bad news. Bubbles burst.

One wonders how many small start-ups will succumb to this fate, as the demands for registration, regulation and insurance, make themselves felt. Or else they don’t, get caught out and suffer the consequences.

Drones might well be cool. They may well seem like a sure thing, but it takes more than a little investment and technology to make a sustainable, functioning business.

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