Drone Life News – Amazon Drone Delivery, AIRT-Drone-Responder 2021 Survey, DJI News, US-Made Drones
Weve got a lot of news to hit this week, so were gon na get right into it. Joining us, as always, is the very experience very knowledgeable, miss miriam mcnabb from drone life and miriam. It seems like there is: the hoopla is back on security issues with drones. Chinese drones, american drones, but yet it seems like public safety is still choosing to work with dji. What do you have this week? Music? So the endless story about which kind of platform is appropriate uh goes on. I dont think this one will ever end weve gotten a lot of mileage out of it so far, and we seem to it seems to continue so this week, airt and drone responders released the results of their survey on two public safety, uas programs in the u.s. One of the questions that they asked was: what type of hardware do you use, and the results were just abundantly clear. More than 90 percent of public safety, uas programs are using dji. Drones. Second was autel. Third, you know we came in sort of. We have parrot. We have skydio slur, teledyne fleur is in there in the mix, also, but overwhelming majority dji drones. So you know what does this mean for the sector? Its kind of hard to say other than you know, dji started out dominant theyre, the biggest drone manufacturer in the world, theyre still the dominant manufacturer in 2021, whatever other issues sort of evolve and come to light in the drone industry in the drone community price matters, You know price and functionality really matters.
I also think that the other thing to note is that things dont change very quickly and um. I always find this really fascinating uh. When i look at these surveys about what what the fleet is made up of and if you look at sort of national or international surveys, it can be really interesting that, like 3dr solos are still on the list. You know people are still flying these. They havent even been made for several years, so i think that um, the fleet is slow to turn over. Of course, new public safety agencies are starting uas programs all the time, and so that that does cause some kind of a shift. But the data, at least for this year, is clear: more than 90 percent use, dji thats, not a slight majority thats, a thats, a thats, a dominant sector. There definitely an overwhelming majority of drones. That is for sure, and i know, were even seeing uh some other trends and im sure theres some more data out of these surveys to just you really better understand which dji drones are being utilized by public safety, as we have super powerhouse drones. Now, like the mavic 2 enterprise, dual advance, that has that dual payload, it has zoom video. It has a huge thermal sensor, and so it would be really nice to know if public safety departments are saving money by purchasing those aircraft over. You know more expensive enterprise. Uh drones so more to learn for sure miriam, but that that brings us to our next story, which, as many of you know if youre following well finance or mainstream media or really any news whatsoever im sure you have heard about the infrastructure bill and its easy To assume that the infrastructure bill would actually add a huge boost to the drone industry, as drones are being used to inspect critical infrastructure all over the country.
Yet this may not be the case as well. This bill might limit who can buy what miriam whats the whats the story here: Music yeah the infrastructure bill uh really should help the drone industry to a certain extent. You know so much of that money is earmarked to improve our nations infrastructure and those are things like bridges and railways and roads and uh. As you and i both know, you know, drones can play a critical role in bridge inspections. Road inspections, you know vegetation encroachment, you name it. Drones are being used and the infrastructure bill is worded in such a way to really encourage the use of new technologies. However, bipartisan senator amendment came up last week, so a republican and a democrat sponsored a proposed amendment which would limit those drones purchased with infrastructure funding. I want to make sure that i say this correctly of chinese made drone technology, so it would prohibit the purchase of chinese made drone technology using infrastructure funding so hard to say exactly what that would mean. You know still under discussion. It was generally accepted, as you know, something that congress felt was uh necessary, had been an oversight in the original piece and wanted to add its hard to say who will receive infrastructure funding? Does that mean engineering firms or inspection firms or contractors who who receives those fundings yet to see and what kind of an impact that could have? It also prohibits the purchase, not necessarily the use so really really hard to say how that could play out, but its yet another kind of move on the part of the u.
s government to limit the exposure to chinese made technology and possibly to boost the uh domestic Manufacturing capabilities. You know this brings up a lot of questions miriam like does this mean that all drones that contain chinese parts, because that that would cover quite the gamut, not just uh? You know chinese manufacturers, but quote unquote. American manufacturers, as well yeah, so youve, really hit on the the problem here is that, as these sort of short, broadly worded, um amendments go into place. That leaves a lot of details in a big big gray area and thats exactly the issue so uh. The amendment name sort of listed entities but um, you know we dont know what that means. Does that mean no? No chinese parts, uh thats a problem? Does it mean that it has to meet ftc regulations for made in america? That could mean something different um really problematic when kind of people from outside the industry uh write regulations, they may be designed to solve one problem and they could present a whole lot. More again, like i said if this funding is earmarked for existing engineering firms and contractors with the government and so forth, they may already have their own fleets, and so this could really end up being much more problematic than i think it sounded when they thought of It so well see what happens. Yeah definitely going to be interesting to see how that turns out. I know there is a lot thats in that infrastructure bill that i think many of us are wondering how its related to infrastructure, but it will be very interesting as a whole, and that brings us to our next story.
As many of you know remote id. Well, it was marketed as the first step in many to get us to a world of drone delivery, yet, as many companies have realized well its a whole lot easier to test drone delivery in other countries, not in the united states. Well, it looks like another domino. May have fallen in regards to just how fast i will be able to get my pog juice from amazon whats going on here. All right, im sure theres a story there. I dont know what pog juice is im, not sure i want to ask: oh no, its. The greatest juice ever made and it comes from hawaii and i can only get it on amazon, so yeah. I just. I hope that you know one day i can get that drone delivered, but its like a 10 pound box, so im not really sure, okay, Music. So uh, pog juice aside, a wired magazine, ran a report that suggested that amazon may be downing its drone delivery fleet – and this is a really interesting story for the drone industry in general. If we go back uh kind of several years, you know i remember in 2015, for example, writing an article about the amount of money that amazon was putting into lobbying for drone delivery. You know lobbying at the faa that they were really becoming involved in that regulatory environment. Im sure that you and i were both at conferences where amazon representatives got up and presented their concept of a federated airspace.
They were really pushing for regulations that would enable drone delivery, but along the way, you sort of realize that its very problematic for a firm like amazon, to not only engage in drone delivery but engage in drone manufacturing. So i think that this may have been an issue of of them being actually so early in the cycle that they didnt see a readily available alternative made by a drone manufacturer. But amazon started on this route of developing their own aircraft and, as you know, gravity is a powerful force. Developing an aircraft is not as easy as it may seem and its problematic in addition to having to develop and certify their own aircraft. They also um have chosen to attempt a delivery mechanism that is very challenging, so amazon has been trying to um deliver by sort of landing in in peoples. Backyards thats, not something that uh many other delivery companies are trying to do because thats really problematic. If youre trying to actually land a drone in somebodys yard, you got to be careful that the dogs not running, underneath it all of a sudden or the little kid or the stroller or or what have you. There are a lot of obstacles to deal with uh. There so thats very problematic – and i think third thing that kind of makes amazons efforts to drone delivery. A little bit problematic are that they really um dont have a robust network of supply near their consumer.
So we know of amazons warehouses. As being sort of you know from where i sit somewhere out there on the west coast, certainly they are doing same day as delivery in a lot of communities, so in those communities, clearly they have distributed centers but its hard to go wide scale to do drone Delivery when your supply is somewhat centralized so when walmart tries to do drone delivery. Okay, you know 90, some percent of americans all live within 10 miles of a walmart. They already have a distributed supply, but with amazon they need to redistribute their supply to be closer to their consumer in order to fully utilize drone delivery, and that seems to me to be a long and complex uh problem for them. So the wired article did not say that um amazon is downing their delivery program. What it did say is that they have all but closed their uk delivery hub. That is where they were doing uh most of their testing thats, where they first got permission to do their testing so well see what happens. I think that um, we probably all, owe amazon a debt for uh, putting drone delivery into the public mindset here and were really trying to do a lot of the work uh to get it going. Well see what happens in the future. You know their fleet was certified, so they do have a working aircraft. You know i dont know if theyre just gon na sort of take a step back and figure out where to do their testing and how theyre going to make that work or slow it down.
But i do think that other models, like google wings model of hey, were the delivery service and whatever retail uh partner, wants to work with us, thats, probably going to be a reality before we see amazon delivery, drones yeah, it kind of seems like a roller coaster. Miriam as i i know, you said that amazon got their air worthiness certificate for their drones, which it seemed like. Well now the sky is the limit, but if i remember if it was last year or early this year, that it was reported that amazon prime air had cut most of their staff, so its its really interesting to see. Where does this really lead to? You know? Yeah and like i said, i think we we all sort of owe a debt to some big companies like google. You know the google spin off, that is wing now and amazon, because they did move the ball forward. You know its hard for a smaller company to take the hit for five six seven, who knows how many years of development before profitability um, so i im sure theyll get there eventually, but it looks like they may have hit a roadblock wow. Well, it should be very interesting to see how this turns out also interesting, because amazon, as you know, they utilize ups usps and fedex dependent on the product thats being sold, and it makes you wonder well. Are they seeing success with upss drone program with the google wing program with fedex program, so very, very interesting, but miriam? Thank you again, uh for keeping us up to date here on the drone life news theres, so much going on sometimes its hard to to kind of sift through it all next week, im really excited to be uh joining you from auvsi in atlanta and where im Sure we will have a ton of uh new news to talk about.
Definitely – and i know its gon na be an exciting time. This upcoming quarter as there are a lot of new drones coming out so itll, be very interesting time as well, which is why all of you are going to want to stay tuned, so dont be afraid to leave us a review or subscribe to the show to Listen to it first before others, but miriam. Thank you again so much for joining me, as always its uh its a lot of fun. I learn from you every week, so i really appreciate it likewise always fun to talk to paul well, thank you. Miriam thats gon na do it for us today. Everyone thanks again for joining us for another edition of drone life.