The skies are now full of flying robots capable of taking aerial photos and subsequently deriving data from those photos with the aid of AI. Unlike a dystopian nightmare come true however, these unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are changing the face of 3D jobs which are tasks that are dangerous, dirty and difficult to humans. Leading the industry in Malaysia is Aerodyne Group, a premier enterprise solutions provider specialising in asset management and rectification through the use of drones.
Aerodyne Group, now ranked fifth globally in its field, was founded by Kamarul A, a charismatic man who believes in the limitless potential of DroneTech in the future. “The drone alone is a dumb equipment that’s now getting more intelligent but the more important thing is how we can use drones to gather data analytics”, he shares with a smile as he talks about Aerodyne’s three pivoting focus after being in the industry for 5 years.
Starting from a humble beginning of 3 team members in 2014, Aerodyne Group now spans 272 employees with execution offices in London, Santiago, India, Denmark and Russia. In their early days, Aerodyne began to provide visual solutions using drones but realised that it cannot scale up without disrupting itself and pivoting to the next stage: deriving data solutions from visuals provided by their drones.
The company then naturally found itself restrained once more a while after and with a streak of boldness, Kamarul decided to up the ante for his company and take them for a deep dive into new territories with advanced analytics and to incorporate the use of artificial intelligence that strives to give customers total solutions that they can opt to integrate with their own internal software. Today, the company has assimilated into a new role: providing total managed services to their customers which includes intervention and rectification work.
Driven by the belief that it’s not necessary nor the wisest decision to reinvent the wheel but to use what’s available in the market, Kamarul can now reflect back to his entrepreneurial journey with pride. Aerodyne is currently a one-stop centre for all things drone related and their business operations are currently expanding at an incredible rate; they have just entered India, the second largest market in the world.
Aerodyne has taken an uncommon approach to the industry, it does not create its own drones or its sensors in-house, preferring to utilise what’s already available in the market to create value-added services with existing technology. Using drones created by other firms, they have added age old processing into their data analytics and imbued the use of AI together with cloud solutions to provide the best asset management services to their clientele.
What’s more interesting is their business model which priorities Malaysia, the birthplace of Malaysia, as a home base in addition to their execution offices in other regions such as Europe, South America, Asia and Russia. While the execution offices provide other support, all data is channeled back to Malaysia processing. Their Malaysian office is also the base of their core technological development for all things drone.
The biggest challenge of their business journey is yet to come: to break the ceiling on the current limitation of drone innovation with air mobility as well as to disrupt the norm of regulations and acceptance of widespread drone use. Air mobility in particular is an undiscovered terrain that’s now gathering a lot of interest with over 50 cities worldwide that have either ran trial operations with it or have pledge to do so, says Kamarul.
Aerodyne sees great potential and value in an early entrance to the air mobility segment. As such, they have begun key research into it with their partner from Japan, hoping to be the first and most ready provider of the service when air mobility becomes mainstream in 2030. Today, the segment is forecasted to become ready by 2021 onwards with some prototypes being presented by the end of this year.
With the disruption of the norm, it’s an ever-shifting landscape for drone operators such as Aerodyne. This is particularly true for countries with stringent regulations and unfriendly regulators who are slow to respond to the innovations that could change the way industries operate. However, Kamarul notes that regulators everywhere are starting to reconsider their hard stance on commercial drones as stakeholders and enthusiasts all come together to promote the adoption of DroneTech worldwide.
As the technology evolves into better, safer and more diversified drone use, the regulators are starting to catch up albeit at an individual pace as per their country’s support of the new tech disruptor. For some, the global recognition has pushed the regulators to take on leadership roles to develop the technology. It’s a constant game of flux with these regulators, as the technology gain more traction and users, they eventually relent but also take into consideration the aviation, privacy and security risks that drones pose to their locality.
Misconceptions about drone technology are rife but are regularly challenged by the ever-changing improvements by the manufacturers and drone operators alike. While the perception towards drones used to revolve around them being unsafe and posing privacy risks, they are now much safer and professional operators are bound by their license ethic code to respect privacy and public security.
Drone technology is far from perfect and needs support from users and regulators alike to mature into a widespread technology that can be utilized for both personal and commercial use. Musing on the future of drone tech in both Malaysia and globally, Kamarul says, “In Malaysia, it’s growing right now. With everyone working together, we can spur the mass adoption of DroneTech and everyone can benefit equally”.