Av8Chuck

Do We Need Competition?

Recommended Posts

Most believe that competition in a market is a good thing.  Is it?

How you define competition has a lot to do with how you define the market.  DJI is the $1.5B gorilla in the consumer drone market, I don’t know what overall percentage of market share that is but it must be pretty high.  Are they the market leader in the commercial market?  Depends on how you define it.

The commercial market should not be defined by drone manufacturers, the FAA, or even forums such as this.  It is defined by the problems customers need to be solved.  

By debating the requirements of different commercial applications forums such as this can play an important role in defining and shaping competition.  However, if we want to be relevant then we have to be willing to challenge the prerogatives of large companies, the regulatory process, and even other forums.  And to do that there needs to be a debate, lots of it.  

I’m sure that many of you participate in other drone-related forums and have friends on those forums whose opinions you respect, who are serious about making this their vocation and who you think would add value to this debate.  Please reach out to them and invite them to start or join conversations here.

Also, the Part107 license is only the beginning, let's start discussions about what some of the options or alternatives are to the status quo and create some competition of our own.  :ph34r:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not being facetious here but what is the competition?

I'm running a business writing custom solutions use DJI drones and their sdk. I can go to a client and knock out a proof of concept app for a business within a couple of weeks. Granted the proof of concept app is pretty limited but the drone flies, integrates a mapping solution, comes with a variety of built-in safety solutions like return to home and object avoidance etc.... A full fledged solution that is very user friendly of course takes much longer but the DJI sdks are quite good, have good documentation that is updated frequently, it is actively being developed with a large company (DJI) putting a lot of resources into making the sdk even better. Also DJI has new products coming out on a quarterly or semi-annual basis to make the entire process even simpler.

I began all this writing drone apps using the 3dr ecosystem. It was ok for a while but the sdk (last called tower I think) was not near as sophisticated as what DJI has available. 

I know that intel wants folks to use their drone solution - software and hardware - but quite frankly until Intel or someone else puts millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, behind their solution it will be difficult to develop the intel solution.

If I had a couple of million of dollars from a venture capital fund to develop a drone solution then I can see using pixhawk and other open source items out there, but I do not.

Again I'm not knocking pixhawk and other open source solutions out there. Far from it. I do regret when 3DR was no longer an option for me as a developer.

But again, in all seriousness, what are the other options out there for me that is as good as the DJI ecosystem for me to quickly develop drone solutions that focus on the solutions and not just getting hardware working together or getting the drone to fly?

 

 

Edited by eColumbia99

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
14 hours ago, eColumbia99 said:

I'm not being facetious here but what is the competition?

Again it depends on how we're defining the market.  Clearly, DJI is the largest drone manufacturer but I would argue that they are not the market leader in the commercial market.  Sure a large number of consumers who wanted to hang out a shingle as a professional use their products, but if your measuring market traction based on the "data" being sold and profitability there are better solutions.

Microdrones: https://www.microdrones.com/en/

SenseFly: https://www.sensefly.com/home.html

Ascending Technologies: http://www.asctec.de/en/

Kespry: http://www.asctec.de/en/

Leica: http://uas.leica-geosystems.us/uas.html

Aeryon: https://www.aeryon.com/  

DragonFly: http://www.draganfly.com/

R4Robtics: http://r4robotics.com/

Also, and most importantly, the US Military banned DJI.  Two-thirds of the Civil Infrastructure in the US is managed by the Army Corps of Engineers which prohibits the use of any kind of DJI product.  

Another thing that effects DJI's ability to compete in the commercial market is that professionals want a platform that doesn't require firmware upgrades every month, they NEED to know that the drone will work tomorrow the same that it worked today.  They don't want to show up on a location, regardless of where it is and have to "ask" the manufacturer for "permission" to fly before the drone will arm.  And large enterprise companies want to know that ALL aspects of the data collected by a mission is secure.  Even if the customer is not directly affected by the military ban in the US, large companies, especially those in infrastructure, Oil & Gas, and Utilities, for example, are evaluating alternative products first which will affect DJI sales.   

14 hours ago, eColumbia99 said:

Granted the proof of concept app is pretty limited but the drone flies, integrates a mapping solution, comes with a variety of built-in safety solutions like return to home and object avoidance etc....

Off-the-shelf drones are tightly vertically integrated making them more difficult to integrate into already existing engineering workflows. Sure, DJI has an SDK with an army of people developing some cool tools for the drone, it's not clear that a tool developed in an SDK for the Inspire2 will work with the Phantom or the M600, but even giving DJI the benefit of the doubt that they sort out those issues, that SDK doesn't extend to 3rd party payloads, secure communications or advances mission control.  All drones that I know of with GPS have RTH, however, often times RTH is not the failsafe you want to use around dangerous or expensive objects like cell towers and power substation.  All of our missions are autonomous so we have little or no use for object avoidance. The type of object avoidance on consumer or hobby grade drones does not provide the kind of stand-off capability required for the level of safety necessary for autonomous missions. 

14 hours ago, eColumbia99 said:

I began all this writing drone apps using the 3dr ecosystem. It was ok for a while but the sdk (last called tower I think) was not near as sophisticated as what DJI has available. 

The SDK for PX4/Ardupilot is DroneCode's-DroneKit.  Never really understood why you'd need an SDK for OpenSource software?  Q-Ground Control is the successor to Tower.  QGC is far superior but its still quirky OpenSource. 

14 hours ago, eColumbia99 said:

I know that intel wants folks to use their drone solution - software and hardware - but quite frankly until Intel or someone else puts millions, if not hundreds of millions of dollars, behind their solution it will be difficult to develop the intel solution.

 

Intel, Qualcomm, and Insitu (Boeing), and many others are spending millions.  You're a software developer and you know methodology is important.  The solutions these companies are already demonstrating are orders of magnitude more capable than anything DJI has developed, in part because they are creating open and extensible development platforms that systems integrators, payload manufacturers, and high-end customers can innovate with.  This is what they do, they did not start out as toy manufacturers.      

I'm not saying that DJI will not be a part of the commercial market, but I am saying they are not, nor will they be the market leader.  In fact, I'll go a step further and say that the decisions they make regarding the US Military ban could have a profound effect on their consumer market.  Less than 10% of their revenue comes from commercial applications, yet the commercial applications seem to be influencing 90% of their development and policies.  Every company that loses focus on what got them there goes out of business.

14 hours ago, eColumbia99 said:

Also DJI has new products coming out on a quarterly or semi-annual basis to make the entire process even simpler.

I guess it depends on how you define simpler and coming out with new products.  DJI is selling the Zenmuse Z30 for $8995.  Did they develop it?

Take this:  http://www.accessories-shops.com/sony-camera-series/sony-fcb-ev7520-new-full-hd-30x-colour-block-camera-module---high-sensitivity.html

And mount it on this:  https://store.gremsy.com/product/gremsy-t1/ and save yourself about $6000.

Take this: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1283257-REG/panasonic_dmc_gh5_mirrorless_micro_four.html

And mount it on this:  https://gremsy.com/gremsy-t3/ You can remove this from the drone and mount it on a jib, car mount handheld, remove the camera from the gimbal and use it any way you like provide far more utilization than an X7

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.