Promising growth sectors are hard to come by these days, but drones are shaping up as just such an industry. Barely in existence just 15 years ago, drones are becoming more important in the US military, and across an increasing number of commercial enterprises.
Earlier this year, the release of a drone model called the DJI Phantom 3 further lowered the tech barrier and many industries have begun integrating the technology.
Consumer drone retailer Drones Etc., along with many other retailers are now offering this model. It has also been rumored big box stores may carry drones this Christmas shopping season.
They are far less expensive to own and operate than manned aircraft, and they can go where manned aircraft can’t. Those two factors alone make it a highly promising industry to invest in.
Where are the best opportunities to invest in drone technology right now?
There are some mixed plays – since the industry is still in its infancy – but there are a number of companies that are poised to become leaders in the field.
Here are ten such companies.
The company that gave us wearable video cameras is also developing it’s own line of drones for consumer use. The company plans to sell airborne drone cameras to ordinary citizens. It seems like a natural development given the company’s current core camera business.
The company hasn’t provided many specifics in regard to the drone camera itself, but it’s easy to imagine the potential applications. They could have use in photography (think aerial shots of weddings and other special events), use in shopping for new homes to buy or even neighborhoods to move to. And what about use as a last minute courier service for small businesses? The possibilities are unlimited, and GoPro has the name recognition – and the technology link – to make it all work profitably.
Though not a direct provider of drones, InvenSense does provide an important technology that drones require – micro-electro-mechanical system gyroscopes for motion tracking devices. These are already in use in smartphones and tablets, as well as drones.
As the size of the drone market grows, the need for gyroscopes will increase in step. InvenSense hopes to capture a large share of that market, which should insure a bright future for this company.
Google is another example of an indirect play on drones, since drones are not a part of the company’s core business, and may never be. Google has acquired a series of robotics companies, and last year they acquired Titan Aerospace. Titan makes drones that can fly up to the edge of the earth’s atmosphere – 65,000 feet – and remain in flight for up to three years. These drones will be part of Google’s “Project Loon”, which is an ambitious program designed to bring the internet to the most remote corners of the globe.
It’s not hard to imagine that this will also have a positive impact on Google Maps, enabling the application to get more and better images of the entire earth’s surface, even areas considered too remote to be reached by more conventional methods.
The Titan drones are about the size of jets, and rely on solar energy for their power, which is why they can stay in flight for so long. They could give Google a global reach that no other competitor can match.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com