Who will top the 2020 drone service providers list?

Commercial drone business intelligence company, Drone Industry Insights are set to release their annual list of Top 20 drone service providers this month.

Last year’s list was led by medical drone delivery services provider, Zipline, whose achievements reflected reflected not only their growth in operations and the opening of distribution centres in Ghana, but also their impressive $190 million investment earlier in 2019.

In a year disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, it will not surprise to see Zipline staying up there with the best drone service providers, as emergency delivery drones rose to prominence as the pandemic persisted.

This year Zipline has continued its stellar operations in Rwanda and Ghana, delivering emergency medical supplies like blood from distribution centres to remote areas in these countries. When the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread, the company expanded its services to include the delivery of COVID-19 equipment like personal protection equipment (PPE) where they were needed.

The company has also started making forays back home in the USA, and have made more than 110,000 deliveries to date.

On a 2019 list dominated by providers of mapping, survey and inspection drone services, Terra Drone were second place – from ninth in 2018 – after the researchers recognised their rapid growth in a variety of industries and geographical regions. The Japanese company has become one of the biggest drone service providers in the world, offering cutting-edge solutions for aerial survey, drone-based infrastructure inspection, drone data processing and analysis to industries that include oil and gas; GIS, utilities, mining and energy. Their networks have expanded to all parts of the world through a partner network of group companies and technology collaborators.

They have opened subsidiary offices in Angola, Australia, Europe, USA, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, India, Middle East and Indonesia.

“Aerodyne have moved up into third place as they too have grown quickly over the past year thanks to strategic partnerships across the globe,” wrote Drone Industry Insights in their 2019 report. “This has been a very impressive growth, but it remains to be seen whether this rate of expansion is manageable for this Malaysia-based drone service provider.”

Crashing into the Top 20 for the first time were Verity Studios and Skylark. Swiss drone show provider Verity were the first drone show providers to make it onto the Top 20 reflecting the growth of this entertainment segment of the drone industry. The company is a leader in indoor drone systems. Founded in 2014, Verity Studios has extensive experience in the creation of spectacular drone shows, providing unique performances for touring productions, resident shows, and one-off events. Its drones have been used by some of the world’s biggest entertainment providers, including Cirque du Soleil and Madison Square Garden, and have performed on stage as part of global tours for major artists including Drake and Metallica. Verity has completed more than 100,000 autonomous flights safely above people, across more than 20 countries worldwide.

They conducted 110 shows involving 104 drones since last year, and were set to feature as part of the special effects at Canadian singer Celine Dion’s tour of North America before Coronavirus forced their plans to be rescheduled.

Only in February last year, the premiered the Verity’s Failsafe, a software that acts as the first line of defence against propulsion system failures at little to no cost to the consumer, significantly increasing the safety and reliability of any quadcopter. When a Failsafe-enabled drone has a propulsion system failure, instead of spinning out of control and crashing to the ground, the drone stays in the air, stabilising itself using sophisticated algorithms. It can then be safely navigated to an appropriate landing location. This type of disaster mitigation has never been achieved or implemented by manufacturers, forcing customers to pay for expensive retrofit systems, like parachutes, in an attempt to make their drones safer.

The 2019 list was dominated by mapping and survey drone service providers

Skylark, meanwhile, as the first Indian company to make it into the Top 20 are likely to majorly benefit from the latest Indian drone regulations. They provide services for drone surveying, drone mapping, and drone videography-based inspection and drone-based solutions for project planning, detailed project reporting, feasibility studies, volumetric analysis, life cycle operations and maintenance of projects and assets.

Besides Zipline, the United States had five other companies in the Top 20 drone service providers – Measure (fifth), Matternet (eighth), Flirtey (eleventh), Avitas Systems (thirteenth) and twentieth placed Drone Dudes. The UK chipped in with fourth placed Cyberhawk, Sky-Futures in ninth and Team UAV, who came nineteenth.

Mapping, Surveying and Inspection were by far the application methods most commonly employed by leading drone service providersin 2019, with thirteen entries in the Top 20. The other six spots were filled by delivery providers (five; up from three last year), and one each for drone shows; and video and photography.

Drone Industry Insights base their rankings on the following indicators: size of company, market shares or sales figures, number of followers, public attention, and the extent of internet activity.

The highest scoring company in each dimension receives a rating of 100 percent, with all other drone companies receiving a lower percentage in linear relation to the score of the highest-ranking company. The total score is an average of all four measured dimensions. A company can reach an index of 100 percent if it leads all considered sources.

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