When we announced earlier this year that we were going to be working with Sony to bring out the R10C, which has the best sensor in the industry, we also said we were going to do more than just strap a great camera on a Solo. And we did: we've created a custom gimbal and API interface with the R10C that allows Solo Site Scan to not only automatically control every aspect of the camera in real time during flight, but also automatically transfer full-resolution (20 megapixel) images to the cloud wirelessly in near real-time, via our new iOS app. It's out now!
@RPM Solo is fine AP machine but I am totally unconvinced that it really could or should do 'scan' anything more than, as you say, very small areas.
Too bad. The lack of any comments at all on how there may be a non site scan subscribed option is disappointing.
At a cost of 20k to run site scan for 2 years with 1 drone I would definitely go the route of 2x competitors drones (that can cover 2x as much ground per flight), full Pix4D licence and have enough left over to start a decent computer build. It may appeal to inner city small building sites with not much ground to cover and wifi available. One of my solo batteries is lucky to get 10 minutes now with GoPro and gimbal. That just won't do in large scale mining, oil & gas and Ag. That's completely ignoring the fact that the sensor is not the best in the air at all anymore.
I still really like the solo. It will just be used for taking cool pictures and video and showing people how drones work instead of doing work as I had hoped.
Hi Craig, Bombshell of a post.
3DR has a history of leaving preceding customers in the lurch from their first ArduCopters to the Iris and discontinuing phone support on the Solo.
Colin has provided frequent web posts on old and new features and how to use them on the Solo.
I know 3DR is still continuing with the Solo for now, but you have to expect that the (something new) will be coming out fairly soon and it seems clear that 3DR's direction is now towards high end enterprise type uses.
I fear the Solo at least as far as consumer use is concerned is likely to be sidelined, which seems to possibly be indicated by Colin's (departure!)
I know a lot of this has been happening related to 3DR and Dronecode (of which they are a controlling and pivotal member) lately so it will be interesting to see what happens next.
Main 3DR consumer guy and Chief Revenue Officer just left the building - hard to imagine anything going on in that department.
Ive always expected an upgraded camera since the Solo was announced but I thought there might be a consumer option for it.
We are at the dawn of a new age, like the personal computer revolution.
I made S100 computer systems with a Wang look alike Word Processor that I and my business partner wrote in assembler and the first edition of C for the 8080 in CPM and sold them to several companies Real Estate, Ambulance Companies and Blood Banks with software written just to support their business by my business partner).
Terminated business when WordStar came out.
Same thing now, early days, everybody is trying to get as big a slice of the pie as they can and with all the venture capital 3DR has and has spent I suspect their investors are looking for a really big tasty slice.
Whether they get it or not and how long it lasts will be driven by the emerging market realities of commercial drone use as it evolves, right now it is chaos.
And then there are the Chinese, even if we don't go to war with them they may win anyway.
That all sound right.....Rob.
Chaining your business to others, though, is the way of the world. I've spoken to a lot of people in my other industry (web stuff) who chained their business to Facebook. When they mentioned it (and I was mentoring through an org at the time), I had the same attitude as you - like "dude, don't start this whole company based on FB that could cut you off with a code change".
But maybe I was wrong? I think it depends on the time frame and the investment. I wouldn't want to start a two decade plan based on DJI (or other OEM) whims, but if the effort was something that was almost immediately revenue generating (without massive R&D), then I'd go for it. Not much ventured and then not much lost.
The other option is to have control over your hardware - which may be more of a curse than a blessing to some.
Whether DJI or a little guy - they are all somewhat in the same boat. They all throw out their best ideas of what the market wants and then try to learn from it and provide more of the same. I guess what I am saying is to remember that even DJI had little idea of what they were doing a few short years ago - their "secret" is listening and changing quickly to adapt to what people want.
For all the rest of us I think the secret to this business is going to be similar to that of many others - to pick very small niches where we fly under the radar and can build up a speciality that isn't easily copied or cloned.
As you note, if someone else can do it they will. I will add in my own words "there is always someone willing to do the same thing you are for less money" - and then it becomes a race to the bottom.
I invest a little through Drone.VC and some of the ventures that interested me the most were those outside of what we usually think about. One company made water drones to rid golf course ponds of those pooping geese. Another is into the underground mining biz.
I'd rather be the guy (the ONLY guy) selling Golf Course and Parks and Recreation little water drones for clearing birds than fighting it out in the Big Ring with the 800 lb. Gorillas.
Develop the Ardu overseeder or dog poop collector and the world may beat a path to your door.
Well, even this... What I'm seeing in the industry, is that most commercial operators expect to pay starvation wages for their pilots. I've talked to several who are playing only $30k/year. They're basically betting on the fact that these systems are dead-nuts easy to operate, and the job is "fun", so they won't need to pay much to attract workers. I think people will find they get what they pay for, as is usually the case for labor. But this is how things will be.
Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It would be fairly straight forward to take an existing flying wing, or make one from scratch (let's face it, these things are not complicated), put Arduplane on it, a camera, etc. I really am surprised nobody has done it yet. The harder thing is the data analysis part. But lots of companies making those.
But this highlights the problem I see with the industry. Nobody wants to make the hardware. They all want to do the big-data side of things, I guess they see that's the part they can charge money for. Or rather, a recurring revenue stream. Hardware is harder, especially since it's not OK to ship unfinished product, and then fix it with updates. But the problem as I see it is that with everybody wanting to do the data side, and few making hardware, what are the end users going to use to gather the raw data? It's a big problem for their business I think. Because Ebee is really the only company I see doing this really well. So, your big-data-only company is directly competing with a company that is doing it all, and doing it all well. You expect your customers to figure out the hardware side themselves... well let me know how that works out for you.
Look at PrecisionHawk, one of the few other companies attempting to do both sides. But from what I see, their customers are really not happy with the performance of the airplane. Then when they decided to do a multirotor, they just went to DJI. That means that their business is basically shackled to a Chinese giant who has shown time and time again, that they will just do whatever they want, regardless of how their customers feel about it. You have NO control over your hardware.
While it may be a new industry, the concept of price vs. value is nothing new at all.
And - the concept of attempting to save money isn't either.
Even in the enterprise the regular laws of economics apply (other than a few suckers). For many years 40K word processing systems were an accepted expense - but ONLY because there was no alternative. As soon as the PC and Wordstar (and then Word) could do much of the job, the old Harris and Wang systems went the way of the DoDo bird.
But I don't think you can compare drones to even this - because the Wang and Harris systems were mature and proven over decades to do the job while most of the drone enterprise systems are newer and don't have much of a track record.
I think Drones will follow - to some extent - the same general curve as computers. That is, stock models with optional software (and perhaps hardware) will eventually be able to do most of the everyday tasks for most people - which brings the effective cost to almost nothing (other than the people - the operators).
But there will also be large markets in the specialty end of things (like process control computer today, etc.) - however, those will not be consumer models with a new cam strapped to them, but "from scratch" finer tuned systems that - as Rob notes - solve a problem out-of-the-box.
I note that the Solo 12.2K says it's for "a single project" where the true Enterprises are asked to contact 3DR for the presumably much higher prices.
If I had to hazard a guess the real idea here would be to perfect the software and services and then lease/sell it to suit a number of various models. Tough row to hoe, tho (hey, that rhymes!) because most of these markets don't hardly exist yet.
Rob, what is to stop another company from cloning the eBee to some extent? Is it really that hard to put together all the parts to make it "just work"? Amazing that Parrot makes these decent high end models and yet their consumer stuff was so poorly implemented.
@Ben - I don't think the "start high and take vacations" type of pricing works in the modern world. It seems that prices don't get chipped away - more like they get blown away. It's hard to readjust from charging $50K a year to $99 a month.
But, hey, the market speaks much louder than any of us. It's a new world now since Aug 29th - exciting times - and it will be years before we can sort out what works and what does not.