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  • Writer's pictureDilip Kumar

Top 10 Companies pioneering Drone in a Box solutions

Updated: Mar 21, 2021

During the 2000s, drones weren't so popular as they are today. This all changed with DJI's phantom series of drones covering the entire consumer segment. They became so popular that they overshadowed their competition such as Yuneec, Autel and Parrot. This was possible because of their ability to cater to the needs of the price sensitive consumer segment with a variety of models with different feature sets. Also, their marketing efforts were responsible for creating the hobbyist, consumer drone industry that is prevalent today. They flooded the market with their offerings such that each of their competition was reduced to a mere 5% of the market. But with the current political climate surrounding chinese manufacturers and the recent DJI ban, it has provided an opportunity for many players to up the game a little and into the future.


Where is the future heading towards?

It was not long before enterprise customers realized the potential that drones have in revolutionize their industry and segment. Soon companies started using drones to automate many arduous and manual tasks which involved risking human lives. The benefits that drones can bring was obvious. They save time for completing tasks which required multiple days to complete. They reduced risk of lives of the people. Hence the modern day drone programs were born.


The future of drones is in automating even the most manual things that are done with drones. With the advent of Unmanned Aircraft System Traffic Management (UTM) and Beyold Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) waivers, the drone industry is all set to grow to their full potential. Normally, to run a drone program, an on-field RPA operator is required to control the drone's flight according to the mission plan and to keep it in Visual Line-of-Sight. Additional crew members might be needed based on the drone program. The primary responsibility of the RPA operator is to launch the drones from a safe platform, perform the required tasks using the drones and then land the drones again safely. Imagine being able to do all this at the leisure of your own office or an indoor command center.


This is where Drone in a Box solutions play a vital role. They allow you to launch, operate and land the drones all by themselves from a remote location without the need for an on-field operator. All Drone in a Box solutions are targeted at the enterprise users as it is a relatively huge investment and does not make much sense for a consumer.


Some of the companies that are all set to leverage this growth spurt are given below:


Percepto is the current world leader in deploying drone in a box solution for enterprise use cases such as continuous monitoring and persistent situational awareness. It consists of the Sparrow Drone in a Box solution. They are known for being the first to integrate a Parachute to Safety feature approved by ASTM. Their AIM platform can also be integrated into the Boston Dynamics' Spot robot for fully autonomous inspections. They are also one of the 10 companies to attain airworthiness criteria from the FAA.



This is the only company to be permitted by the FAA to conduct fully autonomous drone operations as of now. This was possible using the Scout Systems which comprises the Scout drones, the ScoutBase drone in a box platform for charging, take-off, landing & data transmission. Also, the ScoutView software is used to control the entire drone operations. The Scout drones also feature obstacle avoidance based on acoustics to fly safe of flying objects such as birds during automated inspections. Currently these solutions are deployed in agriculture industry for mapping and analytics.




The Skydio 2 has been making waves because of it's one of a kind autonomy allowing even novice users to become expert pilots. The footage shot from these drones look amazing even though there is no manual piloting required. They also became popular among the enterprise users when the NCDOT was granted the first BVLOS waiver for bridge inspection using the Skydio 2 drones. What you might not have realized is that Skydio also has a drone in a box platform called as Skydio Dock.


The Skydio Dock is a one of a kind solution which allows you to perform continuous inspection and monitoring of your infrastructure and site. This is a concept that is still under development and should be launched in Q4 2021.



Parrot & Hoverseen

Parrot is an European drone manufacturer for both consumer and enterprise users. They focus on the enterprise & military segment via the ANAFI USA & ANAFI Thermal drones. To takes things up a notch they have been collaborating with Hoverseen to build a base station for the ANAFI drones to make into a drone in a box solution. We still need to wait and see how it turns out.



SkyCharge (Previously SkySense) + FlytBase

What started out as an autonomous and remote UAV charging pad was transformed into a full on launch and landing pad with storage ability. They could also be the cheapest drone in a box solution based on their features and specs. It could be an ideal solution for industries where huge investments is not an option. For example, the agriculture industry could benefit from such low-cost drone in a box solutions in the future. While they provide only the charging infrastructure, a mission planning app such as FlytBase might be needed to control the drones.



What differentiates Airobotics from the other drone in a box solution providers is that they go one step further by providing a robotic arm inside to automatically change payloads and exchange batteries on the drone. Their solution is targeted at industries such as mining, security, inspection, Mapping and surveying. They provide proprietary drones, the base station as well the software that works in tandem with all the components.


The Skeyetech drone in a box solution has been designed to provide fully autonomous, around-the-clock security & surveillance services. They can also be integrated with Video Management Systems for quick deployment into existing security sensor networks.


The drone in a box solutions from ICAROS are called as Smart Aerial Monitoring Systems or SAMS for short. They are one of the indigenous systems made in the USA. They provide variants of SAMS which support both untethered and tethered (SAMS-T) drone operations at various price points. There SAMS-T can be used for situational awareness missions without any intermittent stop because the tethered connections allow for transmission of both data and power.



Easy Aerial is also another leading provider of drone in a box solutions headquartered in the USA. The SAMS-T from Easy Aerial are primarily meant to be used for area monitoring & perimeter security. Their primary customer base is the military and governmental organizations.


The AtlasNEST is a docking station intended to be used with the AtlasPro drone from Atlas Dynamics. It allows for automatic battery charging and swapping which in turn allows for running fully automated and programmed drone missions.



The DroneCore is an end to end drone in a box solution which consists of the DroneSentry, the DroneHome & the DroneIQ system. The company Asylon Incorporated intends to automate all the operations that are needed to run a drone program.


Bonus: Avy

Avy is a netherland based startup focused on building aviation technology for life saving applications. One such example is their drone in a box solution which uses their Aera drone to support first responders by providing situational awareness. Interestingly enough, this is the only drone in a box solution on this list that uses a fixed wing design for flight and multi-rotors for VTOL (similar to the delivery drone from Wing)



Conclusion

That was 11 companies that are working hard to bring out the future of drone tech. Drone in a box might seem too futuristic right now, but once regulations are properly set in place there is no denying the inevitable. Automation will take over. And that's where drone in a box will be required. Also, the current cost of implementing a drone in a box solution might be a barrier to entry for many industries. But as technology becomes more and more affordable, the adoption of drone in a box solutions will take off 🚀.


Wish to know more about the latest happenings in the drone industry? Follow me on twitter @TheJDilipKumar

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