Leading drone-manufacturer DJI is entering the fray of developing drone fleet management systems, effectively competing against companies like vHive, Google, Nokia and more. As the major market share holder when it comes to producing actual unmanned aerial vehicles, it seems that Shenzhen-based DJI is keen on cornering the software side of things, too. Meet FlightHub, DJI’s enterprise software squarely aimed at providing a cohesive management system for corporate clients eager to safely and effectively manage their drone fleets.
The primary industries this sort of software currently targets are construction, inspection, and disaster response or search-and-rescue scenarios. More and more affected companies are realizing that they can reduce costs while simultaneously increasing efficiency, effectively maximizing their overall business. Measure has proven that wind-farms greatly benefit from supplanting inspectors on the ground with drones in the air—it takes less time, provides the same data, and often results in a more accurate analysis. This revelation is occurring to an increasing swath of industries, and DJI is simply taking the logical next step—getting into the drone fleet management system market.
According to DJI’s press release, FlightHub’s central conceit is the appeal of connectivity—several drone fleets can work together in the same location at the same time, collaborating for maximum efficiency, and relaying any relevant information to any of the teams’ pilots and users on the ground. DJI’s head of enterprise partnerships Jan Gasparic says, “As commercial use of drone technology increases each day, businesses need a solution that lets them scale their operations quickly and efficiently manage their growing fleets and teams across multiple locations.”
To be frank, we’ve reported on numerous companies entering the drone fleet management sector for quite some time now. The pitch is always the same: we’ll make your business run better, drones are an invaluable tool, and you’ll be left behind without them. It’s not that we don’t disagree, for the most part —it’s simply that these announcements don’t usually tell us anything new. DJI is touting its ‘Map View’ and ‘Real-Time View’ abilities as striking features, but displaying camera, sensor, and telemetry data in addition to a real-time map isn’t really anything new. Just recently, we’ve seen Parrot implement virtually the same tech into its new app, compatible with two of their new drones.
In any case, FlightHub will certainly be incredibly beneficial to those in need of managing numerous drones. Reportedly, it offers information regarding local drone regulations, informs of no-fly zones, and takes advantage of DJI’s 'Geospatial Environment Online' (GEO) geofencing system. Additionally, up to four drones can stream live video feeds simultaneously. This is all very useful stuff for those in the aforementioned industries, keen on implementing UAVs into their line of work.
Earlier this year, DJI came under added public scrutiny when the Pentagon banned all DJI-related equipment from the US military due to cyber-vulnerability concerns. This quickly resulted in DJI developing a ‘Local Data Mode’ - an offline alternative to assuage those with fears of having their data stolen. DJI is adamant that these concerns are no longer of any value, stating that “FlightHub data management operations have been pre-assessed in accordance with SOC2 AICPA standards. Future versions of FlightHub will have the option to integrate with private clouds for organizations that demand the highest level of data security.”
Ultimately, DJI joining this particular field of the drone business makes all the sense in the world. Having dominated the drone-manufacturing business for years now, it’s logical for the Chinese drone company to dip its toes into the next big thing, which is clearly establishing a cohesive, secure system that manages mass amounts of drones simultaneously. With the White House recently ramping up efforts to standardize regulations and push drone delivery into reality, it’s no surprise that more and more companies are interested in securing themselves a small market share of that pie.