Nowadays, drones come in many shapes and sizes and are used for multiple tasks, from package delivery to surveillance, weapon deployment, agricultural crop spraying, and disinfecting urban areas. This article looks at some of the key players operating in the drone space, including Amazon.com, Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN), Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL), Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL), Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE: LMT), and Draganfly Inc. (NASDAQ: DPRO) (CSE: DPRO) (FSE: 3U8).
The way drones are piloted also varies. Some are remotely piloted, often by mobile phone. Others are autonomous but blind, requiring ground-based communications systems for spatial awareness. Amazon’s delivery drones are even more sophisticated. They use an industry-leading sense-and-avoid system to ensure safety at scale. Meanwhile, some military-grade drones can carry weighty loads, but this comes at a multi-million-dollar price point.
Fast Drone Deliveries React to Rising Consumerism
Amazon.com, Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) has been developing its drone delivery division since 2016. Amazon Prime Air now plans to launch its fully electric drone delivery service in two US cities this year, in Lockeford, California, and College Station, Texas. It also plans to conduct drone testing at three additional US locations.
As consumerism has soared, so has demand for super-fast deliveries. And Amazon’s drone advancement means consumers should receive their smaller orders within 60 minutes.
Amazon’s drones have a robust design, a sense-and-avoid system and flight paths are planned to avoid other aircraft and fully comply with aviation regulations. This means that the drone will make a safe and sensible decision if an obstacle appears, such as a pet or child. Likewise, the drone should be trusted to make an operative decision if the environment changes, such as adverse weather conditions.
Amazon is no longer simply an online retailer selling a wide range of products. The company’s advancements in tech continue to surprise and impress investors and consumers alike.
It’s not just drone technology that’s advancing. Commercial highways are in the pipeline to help safeguard commercial drone flights. Indeed, the UK will soon be home to the world’s first drone superhighway. The Skyway project, a 165-mile drone delivery path, will connect the airspace between major UK cities.
Drone Innovation in Peace and War
Apple Inc (NASDAQ: AAPL) has not officially announced its involvement in developing drone technology, but rumors are out there. Late last year, Apple filed patent applications describing small UAVs powered by an iPhone, portable gaming system or wireless controllers. It seems safe to assume that if Apple does produce a drone, it will be of the highest spec and covetable design that consumers have come to expect from the iPhone maker.
Like Amazon, Apple is a hugely innovative company. It designs, manufactures, and markets a growing range of personal tech. The company also offers payment, digital content, cloud and advertising services. Apple’s customers range from individual consumers to small & mid-sized business, education, enterprise and government markets worldwide.
Google parent Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ: GOOGL) owns and operates Wing, a drone delivery company. In July 2022, Alphabet unveiled a series of new prototype aircraft designed to carry different size packages, including heavier bundles. The company said these new drones will share the same underlying components with the aircraft it uses to deliver pharmaceuticals and other small packages in the suburbs of Dallas-Fort Worth. Wing recently surpassed 250,000 commercial deliveries.
However, the war in Ukraine has brought the spotlight back on the role drones play in modern warfare. Indeed, defense contractors recently outlined how artificial intelligence and other technologies will be used in the newest warplanes.
Lockheed Martin Corp (NYSE: LMT) is reportedly considering a mix of expendable drone wingmen and more advanced autonomous systems for the US Air Force to use in conjunction with its manned fighters. These expendable drones would be much cheaper than advanced systems but may be needed in the event of further global conflict.
Lockheed Martin is a global security company involved in advanced tech R&D and manufacturing. The company's businesses span space, telecommunications, electronics, information and services, aeronautics, energy, and systems integration. Lockheed Martin operates worldwide.
Draganfly Inc. (NASDAQ: DPRO) (CSE: DPRO) (FSE: 3U8) is another drone manufacturer supplying drones to help Ukraine. Draganfly recently sent a second shipment of its Medical Response and Search and Rescue drones for immediate deployment with Revived Soldiers Ukraine (RSU).
RSU is a top Ukrainian non-profit organization dedicated to providing aid to the people of Ukraine. The organization’s programs focus on medical response and rehabilitation of injured soldiers.
Draganfly has over 20 years of innovation in developing drone technology. It is a trusted name in UAV hardware, software, sensors, and services. In addition to the initial shipments it sent, the company donated an additional three. The order came from Draganfly’s channel partner Coldchain Delivery System for up to 200 units.
Iryna Vashchuk Discipio, President of RSU, said:
Draganfly’s Medical Response Drones are helping to ensure we can access hotspots in Ukraine. Draganfly’s ability to provide high-tech solutions is crucial in providing timely and safe medical supplies to communities affected in this crisis.
This latest shipment of Medical Response Drones has been equipped with custom hardware and software updates developed by the Draganfly team. These updates include an automatic payload drop function that uses proximity sensors for safe cargo release from several feet above the ground, a significantly expanded communication range, and enhanced first-person viewing capabilities that allow for day or night operations.
Draganfly’s Medical Response Drone can carry up to 35 pounds. When equipped with the Company’s temperature-managed Medical Response Payload Box, the drone can transport temperature-sensitive medical supplies, including insulin/medicines, blood, pharmaceuticals, vaccines, water, and wound care kits.
Draganfly released record Q2 earnings results with revenue of $2.37m, up 19.6% Y/Y. During the quarter, Draganfly launched its Heavy Lift and Commander 3 XL Drones. This “Swiss Army Knife” of drones is capable of drop and winch-down systems to transport up to 26 pounds of payload. It also performs extremely well in light rain and snow.
Draganfly manufactures drone and UAV technologies. The company offers assembled multi-rotor-helicopters, industrial aerial video, civilian small unmanned, and wireless video systems, as well as providing custom engineering, training, simulation consulting, software, and UAV services. Draganfly serves customers worldwide.
As consumerism, war, a global food crisis and climate change contribute to the growing demand for drones, these key players are ones to watch.