Sony is launching a company to produce camera drones in a partnership with the autonomous driving startup ZMP.
The new drone manufacturer, Aerosense, will use Sony’s imaging, sensing and networking technology from its smartphone range to create aerial surveillance and reconnaissance drones for businesses.
ZMP will provide the robotics expertise to make them fly. Sony will not sell drones but will lease them for “measuring, surveying, observing, and inspecting”.
Large civil drones capable of carrying high-powered photography and video equipment have proven useful in the movie and television industry, but their use in construction and other industries for surveying dangerous or difficult to reach areas is in its infancy.
Drones are expected to be one of the growth areas in electronics, as the sensors and technologies needed to sustain stable flight have become cheaper, making them a viable device for both business and consumer products.
The availability of basic consumer drones for less than £50 has caused issues around privacy and safety, with aircraft near-misses becoming an increasing concern.
Legislation over drone use has held back their development. In the UK drones with cameras must not be flown within 50m of a building or a person or within 150 metres of a built-up area and kept below 400 feet. The drone must always be flown within 500m of the pilot and within their line of sight.
In the US, where Amazon and other companies are attempting to develop drone technology for delivery services among other uses, rules governing drone flight are under revision by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
Medical supplies were successfully delivered to a remote clinic via drone in an FAA-approved trial last week.
Sony is hoping that its drone company will be ahead of the curve for industrial use, competing with Yamaha and others in Japan and companies such as Australian firm Flirtey on the global stage.
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