In recent years, technology has become the primary focus of businesses around the world. But there are still some industries that haven’t been impacted quite as heavily as others. Drones have been getting a ton of attention on both the public side and commercial side for the creative applications being dreamed up. So when I saw that Planck Aerosystems is using drones as a commercial fishing analytics tool it piqued my interest.
Planck Aerosystems has developed the technology to allow them to operate and manage a small army of drones safely and reliably from far away at sea. I reached out to speak with David Twining, Co-Founder and COO at Planck to find out what the future of this industry looks like from the inside out. I asked David what trends he sees playing out in the future of the drone-as-a-commercial-tool industry. His vision is a combination of intriguing, ambitious, and yet achievable. Here’s what he had to say:
“I’m excited when people ask about future trends. This is a question that gets asked a lot, but the normal answers only look at the near term… perhaps the next 12 months or so. Stuff like precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection, and construction. Those are already happening, and will continue to happen in a big way. But I think it goes far beyond that.
Drones today are where computers were in the ‘60s. They required dedicated operators with specialized training, and they were cordoned off to very specific tasks. Now, everything has a computer in it, and a toddler can be productive with an iPad. Drones are the same way. They’ll be ubiquitous. People will be using drones to perform tasks without even really thinking that they are using drones. It won’t be a special case. It won’t just be the dull, dirty, and dangerous jobs. And they’ll take on forms that we can’t even imagine right now. Using quadcopters to take pictures of bridge pylons is just the tip of the iceberg.
In the future, we’ll see drones performing tasks rather than just collecting data. For example, drones will be used for maintenance and repairs. They’ll paint houses. They’ll trim trees around power lines. They’ll be flying through sewers and elevator shafts. The list is endless.
In the more immediate future, drones will be providing air support to commercial users who did not previously have access to it. That’s what we do. We provide air support to vessels that are very far from shore, where there is no practical way to use land-based manned aircraft. Those sorts of applications will be more and more common in the next 5 years.
But, to go back and answer your question in a more traditional way, which is what you were asking in the first place, I believe that drones will be very effective in places with very costly consequences. Those include emergency response (especially things like wildfires), power infrastructure such as monitoring electrical lines, and all sorts of situational awareness. There are already commercial users for each of these applications.”
I asked David to talk about the future of Planck Aerosystems, he said:
“Planck Aerosystems has developed the core technology to enable small drones to operate effectively, reliably, and safely from vessels at sea. In 5 years drones will be widespread among working boats. 7 to 10 years in the future there will be a drone on every boat, and they will all be using Planck’s technology. Our systems provide actionable data to maritime operators, providing capabilities that are not possible in any other way.”
Comparing one’s own line of work to computers or the internet has become quite cliché in recent years. Everyone claims to be developing the thing that will take the world by storm. With that said, the more I think about the future that David has described the more I think this is an exception.
Robotics as a broad category are expected to explode in the coming decade. Within that broad category, aerial drones provide higher utility than their ground based counterparts in many applications due to their speed, mobility, and accessibility. Combine this with the coming artificial intelligence systems and a infallible work ethic (I’d like to assume robots won’t become lazy as they become smarter) and it isn’t so hard to imagine robots zooming around everywhere. If AI systems alone can’t handle it, you may soon be competing with a drone for your job.