Sony is planning to offer commercial drone services targeting the construction, logistics and agriculture industries from the first half of next year.
Aerosense Inc. is a joint-venture between Sony and Japanese-based robotics firm ZMP Inc. which is currently creating automated drones to capture high-definition images and transmit them to the cloud for analysis.
The company’s chief technology officer, Kotaro Sabe, believes that sales will total about 10 billion yen ($82 million) by 2020. While few details have been shared about Sony’s drone venture, it won’t be alone in the market. Amazon, Google, General Electric and Qualcomm are all developing drones designed for commercial applications.
Despite the increase in interest in the drone market, it’s not without its critics. Consumers often cite concerns of safety and privacy when criticizing drones, while the Japanese government has also scrutinized their use. Anti-nuclear protestors delivered radioactive material to the roof of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s office in April, prompting the government to consider strengthening regulation.
The drone industry is also struggling to get off the ground in the UK, after the government denied funding to Astraea.
Astraea (Autonomous Systems Technology Related Airborne Evaluation and Assessment) is a partnership between the likes of BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, QinetiQ, Cobham, Airbus and the UK government, designed to explore how unmanned aircraft can fly in normal airspace.
The goal is to invent systems and equipment to allow drones to operate beyond the current controls. When Astraea requested $46 million in funding however, it was turned down by the government.