“sUSB Expo 2014 showed signs of a maturing drone industry,” said Antoine Martin of Unmanned Vehicle Systems Consulting.
The sold-out 2nd annual sUSB Expo 2014, held in San Francisco earlier this month, focused on small UAVs for commercial use. A large foreign representation (mostly from Europe), supplemented attendees from the movie industry, UAV manufacturers, insurance companies, public users, the FAA, drone startups, and large corporations.
According to Martin, “The attendees and UAV sector as a whole appears to be still figuring out who does what, why, which business models work, who has funding, the new products in development, and lots of informal conversations about the ‘drone’ sector.”
There are, however, signs that the sector is maturing:
- Increasing acquisitions, and exponential level of investment
- Local and state government prevail as public economic drivers and setting regulations
- Large businesses take an interest in UAV and need to have their ‘UAV strategy’
- Foreign tech commercialization, especially of European companies coming to the US
- Pressure to regulate the airspace, the FAA getting loser and loser in what constitute illegal operations
- Several choices for insurance exist
- Fading stigma about privacy and about the military connotation
“The UAV remains a niche but emerging sector in the US: customers and users of UAVs are mostly new, ROI is unproven for most applications, and repeat customers are rare. And the sUSB Conference was a great place for the shakers and movers of the drone industry to inspire, educate and comfort buyers and stakeholders to buy and sign on the dotted line for investment, partnerships, and sales,” said Unmanned Vehicle Systems Consulting's Antoine Martin.