What was 2016 like for the drone industry?
In Volume 2 of “Stories of the Drone,” we hear from Sally French, a reporter with Market Watch and a drone enthusiast. She is also The Drone Girl and writes a blog under that same name. She’s been covering the drone industry for four years. In this episode, she talks about some of the stories from 2016 and what we might expect to see in 2017. We had a great conversation about drones, technology, events and even learned a few new things about Sally herself.
In The Episode
- [01:23] Introduction. Sally French is The Drone Girl,
- [02:32] 2016 in Review. 2016 saw the implementation of Part 107, new DJI Phantoms, the collapsible drones like the Mavic and many new companies in the commercial area.
- [00:00] The Year In One Word. If there was one word to describe 2016, Sally thinks it would be “Adolescence”. It seems there were times when the industry could move forward assertively, but there were also rules or requirements that kept companies and operators from doing all of the things they wanted to do.
- [04:23] Covering the Drone Indus try. Sally has been reporting on the drone industry since 2013. She is a reporter and analyst for Market Watch, a subsidiary of the Wall Street Journal. She has also taken on some freelance work, most recently with Drone 360 Magazine and some pieces for a photography publication.
- [04:58] Notable Stories. 2016 was the year of “Sense and Avoid” Sally comments on some of news and opportunities surrounding sense and avoid and the companies using the technology. The trend towards smaller, collapsible drones (Yuneec Breeze and DJI’s Mavic) was also notable and could lead to growth in the portable drone market. 2017 could be the year where some consumer drone companies grow and dominate the market or fall to the wayside. As seen by the GoPro Karma, manufacturing drones is a highly competitive endeavor and there a lots of risk. And DJI continues to put pressure on other companies with the release of their new drones.
- [10:11] Keeping with the “drones”. It’s hard keep up with DJI’s pace of releasing new drones. Sally recommends the Phantom 3 Pro for those wanting to buy a good quality drone. With the release of the Phantom 4, the price on the Phantom 3 has fallen dramatically and offers a great value for a drone with 4K video.
- [11:48] Sally’s favorite story of 2016. Of all of the stories covered by Sally in 2016, her favorite was the Drone Conference in Dubai. While many may criticize the U.S. drone regulations, regulations in other countries can be far more onerous. For example, in Dubai, it’s legal to fly a drone, but video and imagery cannot be taken from the air. Commercial operations require a fee for each day the drone is flown, as much as $300 per day.
- [14:34] Standouts in 2016. In Sally’s opinion some of the people that stood out in 2016 including Natalie Chung who is leading Intel’s drone and light show and Michael Huerta who leads the FAA and the efforts to integrate UAVs into the national airspace and his decision to allow schools to use drones for educational purposes.
- [17:21] EAA Air Venture Show. Sally was invited to attend the EAA Air Ventures Show in Oshkosh , Wisconsin. EAA Air Ventures is one of the world’s largest air shows, attracting 550,000 people from 80 countries. Sally talks about the experience of attending this show in participating in drone workshops.
- [19:35] Women in Drones. One of Sally’s passions is advancing the role and involvement of women in the drone industry. She talks about the progress made in 2016 in this area and notes that more and more women are appearing on conference panels talking about drones, business and applications. Some notable women include Natalie Cheng at Autel, Rhianna Lakin of Amelia Droneharts, Sharon Rossmark of AeroVista Innovations, Abby Lyle, drone photographer and educator, and Faine Greenwood, a researcher at Harvard,
- [21:40] Who should we follow on Twitter. If you’re looking for good, reliable and timely information on the drone industry, a few of Sally’s favorite people are David and Sara Oneal of The Drone Show, Ben Popper at The Verge and Ryan Mack at Forbes.
- [22:11] The Drone Invasion. Sally appeared in the recently released documentary on the drone industry, called The Drone Invasion. She shares her perspective in appearing in the movie and on the movie itself.
- [23:16] Sally in 2016. In 2016, Sally did a lot of traveling, participating in several drone conferences and shows. She went to the Middle East for the first time, attended South by Southwest and connected with women in the FAA. She also passed her Part 107 Certification Test, and she shares what it was like to take the test.
- [24:56] Current Drones. Sally received a Mavic the day this interview was held and looks forward to flying it. She’s been flying the Xstar from Autel, Yuneec Typhoon H and also tried her first racing drone. Sally wrote an article in 2016 on how to put together a low cost FPV racing system for indoor flying using the Blade Nano QX.
- [26:55] Causes. Sally supports Amelia Droneharts for women who are interested in flying or the drone industry.
- [27:20] Power Lifting. Sally reveals that she has taken up power lifting. She is currently training for a competition in March.
- [27:50] What to expect in 2017. 2017 looks to be a year characterized by dynamic changes in the drone industry, as companies respond to changing demands in the marketplace. There may be quite a bit of restructuring by some companies in response to these demands.
- [29:29] Closing.