We are three weeks into 2019 and drones seem so “2018.” 1UP would like to thank you for the fantastic year we had in 2018. But before moving too far into 2019, we want to take the opportunity to reflect on the company progress and interesting drone news from the past year.
1UP has grown significantly, drone usage has grown in popularity, and UAVs have been used in some truly intriguing ways. Whether your interest is purely as a hobbyist, or you are engaged in professional or commercial drone operations, there has been significant drone news to interest you through 2018.
President Trump created drone news when he signed a memo creating the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program (IPP), which is designed to help the FAA create drone regulations and integrate drones into US airspace. In May, the government unveiled 10 projects it had selected under the program to start testing out the drones in innovative ways, such as making deliveries or flying beyond a pilot’s line of sight. The projects include drone tests conducted by Intel, the City of San Diego, the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, and the City of Reno, Nevada.
In conversely related drone news, federal lawmakers passed an FAA reauthorization bill that gives the government power to take down rogue drones using jamming and other counter-drone measures. In addition, the US House of Representatives signed off on a bill that would, among other things, ban weapons on smaller drones.
In 2018 there were several cases where drones were caught flying dangerously close to passenger jets in cities around the world. A drone came within five feet of a passenger jet’s window as it flew over London. In the United Kingdom, the number of drones nearly missing airplanes increased more than threefold in two years. In addition, the FAA opened investigations into an incident of a drone flying close to an airplane approaching Las Vegas’ airport, and another drone that was spotted flying near the Statue of Liberty in New York.
As late as December 2018, an Aeroméxico airliner possibly crashed into a drone. A UAV may have caused considerable damage to the nose of the Boeing 737 jetliner late in the flight. Crew members reported hearing a loud bang shortly before landing. You may have heard about Gatwick Airport shutting down over Christmas. While investigators are still not sure whether there actually was a rogue drone, there was considerable disruption to London air traffic.
It’s interesting that individuals can figure out cigarettes, cell phones, and chinese food “deliveries,” but Amazon can’t! 2018 saw a massive uptick in the number of drone deliveries reported at prisons globally. Most of the deliveries were carrying drugs and/or cell phones. In January, US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the prison deliveries are becoming an increasing threat, leading to the government and prisons considering the use of drone jammers and other technology to try and stop them.
One of the more recent high-profile cases involved the delivery of Chinese takeout to prisoners at Wheatfield Prison in Dublin, Ireland. The guards failed to notice the drone delivering the food, but discovered takeout containers in the trash. “There’s no other conceivable way a Chinese takeaway could get into the prison other than by a drone,” an unnamed source told the Irish Mirror.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos predicted five years ago that drones would be delivering Amazon packages by now. Safety issues and regulatory hurdles have obviously been a challenge, but an Amazon spokesperson said the company remains “committed to making our goal of delivering packages by drones in 30 minutes or less.”
Despite the skepticism, Amazon continued to apply for or obtain patents to make its drone delivery system a reality. In 2018, the patents included a system that would allow delivery drones to land on trucks for power; a specialized airbag to cushion delivery drops from the sky; and a delivery drone that can react to a person’s voice and hand gestures.
Drones were deployed over nearly every major wildfire and natural disaster across the US in 2018. Authorities used them to follow the fires, survey the land, and map out damages before and after the blazes were extinguished. In addition, police used drones equipped with infrared cameras to search for many missing people. In one case, they were able to locate a missing 11-year-old girl in North Carolina in less than 15 minutes. 1UP Drones was involved in two critical search and rescue operations in 2018.
In related drone news, there were a number of major cases this year of people flying drones during firefighting operations. In many instances, authorities were forced to halt operations while the drone was located and grounded. As a result, some agencies passed laws making it illegal to fly drones near emergency situations, or gave power to authorities to take down drones that are in their way. 1UP Drones provided testimony before the Colorado House Judiciary Committee in 2018 regarding drone interference with first responders.
Roughly 80% of the drones sold in the world are from one Chinese manufacturer (DJI). 1UP believes strongly that the US concerns over security, hacking, and tariffs warranted another major competitor. Intel has a phenomenal enterprise class drone, extensive marketing, connections to the FAA IPP program, and brilliant software developers to bring the next generation of drones and artificial intelligence to market in the years ahead. Read more about our partnership here.
In 2018, 1UP set out to become the defacto standard drone service provider for Colorado Water rights. We have been humbled and very grateful for significant business from several water entities in 2018. Northern Water in Berthod, Co., Genesee Water & Sanitation District, the City of Idledale Water District, and the Colorado Water Congress all requested 1UP services in 2018. Follow the links for more information.
“More precision equals less surprises and more accurate canal rehabilitation estimates…”
Craig Ullman, Vice President, Applegate Group, Inc.
Partnering with the Applegate Group and HTS 3D, 1UP was pleased to conduct our first LiDAR drone project on the west slope of Crawford, Colorado. The data that resulted from this awesome project saved the “boots on the ground” surveyors roughly two months of heavy duty, dangerous surveying, saved the US Bureau of Land Reclamation roughly $20,000, and produced results in two weeks instead of two months. We look forward to many more water rights projects in 2019 and beyond.
When 1UP opened in 2016, our vision was to give our customers a “new perspective” about their business. We often say, “While drones are cool technology, it’s not about the drone, it’s about the data.” For Summit Brick, drones have become a useful tool, providing a fascinating way to perform inventory and asset management. Summit Brick would tell you we are more accurate and timely than walking “piles” of sand, rock, mud, gravel, and bricks measuring X times Y times Z.
In 2018, 1UP revenues grew by 257% and over 100 new customers discovered how drones could be a great benefit to their business. Our most intriguing win going into 2019 includes searching for undetonated munitions in St. George, Utah (follow along for more details to come in April, 2019, after we’ve completed our desert tortoise training and aerial 3D images).
There is nothing more to say, other than “THANK YOU, AND WE ARE VERY GRATEFUL FOR YOUR TRUST IN 1UP.” This is an industry where, two years ago, most people thought a drone was a toy. Today, Goldman Sachs projects that by 2020, drones will represent a $100 billion industry. We know we are at the forefront in developing new use cases to give your business a “new perspective.”