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Sony JV underscores bullish outlook for drone market

Posted: 28 Oct 2015 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Sony? drone? joint venture? Aerosense? ZMP?

Government applications including law enforcement; infrastructure monitoring, supply chain management, and research and development contributed to over 40 per cent of market revenues in 2014, according to MarketsandMarkets. In addition to Sony, other drone players include Airware, Parrot and 3D Robotics in the U.S.

Other potential applications for drones include their use in search-and-rescue missions, mapping and agriculture, according to MarketsandMarkets.

However, the drone market remains in a nascent stage. Potential issues may arise that could limit their adoption for supply chain management and other applications. The Federal Aviation Administration in the U.S., for example, proposed rules earlier this year restricting drones use for outdoor applications. Among the measures, drones would not be allowed to fly at an altitude of more than 152m. Drones would also need to remain in eye contact with human operators at all times, according to the proposed rules. If passed, the restrictions would thus limit the use of drones from Sony and other OEMs for use in inventory management in outdoor environments.

Besides potential governmental regulations limiting their adoption, the larges-scale use of drones for supply chain management applications also remains largely untested. Sony's and other drones offer an exciting menu of possible uses, but it will ultimately be up to businesses to incorporate them into their supply chain management practices.

"While promising, everything is still up in the air how they will be used for supply chain and other applications. It still remains to be seen if the business mode will be viable," Kara said. "Will drone suppliers remain in business even if they are able to sell a million of these things? And if they [do to] do that, will they still be able to sell a million of them the year after that?"

- Bruce Gain

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