Just like Uber; only its for drones

The good thing about new technology is that sometimes you just have to follow a template that has worked well before.

That is exactly what the entrepreneurs at Aquiline Drones, an American drone solutions provider have done; they took the ride hailing solutions made popular by Uber and applied them to their drone services.

And it should work, from the sound of it.

Called the Flight to the Future, the project will see Aquiline training drone pilots to be their own bosses who – after acquiring drone piloting skills registering their operations – will log into and keep an eye on the start-up’s drone-for-hire app for job opportunities in their vicinity.

“AD Flight to the Future is a collection of carefully tailored courses, supported by an online curriculum and business formation recipe that allow you to start your own professional UAV business,” says Aquiline Drones co-founder and CEO, Barry Alexander. “It is an opportunity for drone pilots to be their own boss, work from a safe environment and have their own hours.  You have to adapt but you can do it under your terms.  This is a chance to get out of unemployment, leave the present and reinvent yourself for the high technology future.”

See? Just like Uber; only its drones.  

And you can actually see this model working, especially in Africa. People or organisations needing drones for the short-term will download the app, fill in the details of where they need the drone and for what services. An available provider will then respond, and just like that everybody is happy.

With drone technology spreading like veldt fire on the continent, there are arguments to be made for a ready market being available for drone operators who may want to offer the drone-sharing services to clients around where they live. Small and medium scale farmers need drone technology for precision agriculture purposes, but they may not know how to get the services. And the end of the year is usually a busy time with wedding ceremonies that could do with a few overhead shots.

There are countless companies that offer drones as a service, in which instances, they second trained staff along with the drones to help their clients out. The only thing missing is the app.

Barry Alexander

Drone delivery should be the easiest target, as it may mean only ferrying a product from one place to another; it is practically the same service being offered by drone delivery provider Zipline in Rwanda and Ghana – only that with Zipline, instead of a dedicated app, you have to do it through direct text messages, a phone call, or through social messaging apps.

Who knows; perhaps the next big thing for emergency medical drone delivery in Africa is the creation of an app that tells your exact location, making it easy for the drone in terms of directions, and gives you options on what is available in the store. All you have to do is click on what you need.

Just like uber; only it is for drones.

Based in Connecticut, USA, Aquiline Drones was founded by Alexander, who said he was looking for a final entrepreneurial endeavour after retiring from a dream pilot career that took him all over the world in Boeing 747s. Alexander reckons that – with the current uncertainty in the airline industry that has been one of the most severely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic – his company’s platform can offer out-of-work manned aircrafts pilots something to do.

“The current Covid-19 pandemic has changed our societies,” says Alexander. “We have changed the way we work, and the way we live. Millions have lost their jobs and regardless of Herculean efforts made on all fronts, the future continues to be uncertain. The aviation industry has been hit particularly hard, and it has to adapt and find solutions for this dramatically changed environment.”

That adaptation could see many pilots exchanging manned controls of their plans for the unmanned experience with drones. Michelle Bishop, an aeroplane pilot who is planning to venture into Aquiline Drones’ programme, told CNN Business she hoped it will be worth her time.

“Even if everything goes back to the way it was five months ago, [the drone certification program] is still not a lost investment, because it’s still something interesting that I can do and still fly full time.”


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