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Commercial Drones FM


The commercial drone industry is projected to be worth more than $20 billion in the next 10 years. Commercial Drones FM is the podcast for the drone industry. Your host, Ian Smith—a helicopter pilot and international drone operator—guides you in discovering the people who power the drone industry, the concepts that drive it, and the global industries who already use drones in their businesses today.


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The commercial drone industry is projected to be worth more than $20 billion in the next 10 years. Commercial Drones FM is the podcast for the drone industry. Your host, Ian Smith—a helicopter pilot and international drone operator—guides you in discovering the people who power the drone industry, the concepts that drive it, and the global industries who already use drones in their businesses today.




#099 - Skydio 2

Skydio CEO, Adam Bry, joins the podcast to discuss the company's newest product, Skydio 2—the world's smartest drone. Bry explains the big differences between R1 and Skydio 2, the underlying technology, and commercial applications from partners like Ware, who build on top of Skydio 2 to automate warehouse inventory tracking. In the second half of the episode, Host Ian Smith is joined by Guillaume Delépine, Skydio's Public Safety Lead, to discuss the company's focus on public safety and first response.


#098 - with Dr. Ernest Earon

Dr. Ernest Earon is EVP of Artificial Intelligence at REIN, AKA


#097 - Impossible Aerospace

Impossible Aerospace is a US startup that manufactures an all-electric, high-endurance multirotor drone called US-1. The drone platform is marketed mainly towards first responders—law enforcement, firefighters, and more. US-1 boasts a flight time of 78 minutes on a total vehicle weight of 17 pounds. Keenan Johnson, one of Impossible Aerospace's co-founders, joined me on this podcast that was recorded at AUVSI's 2019 XPONENTIAL Conference in Chicago, IL.


#096 - PrecisionHawk with CEO, Michael Chasen

Ian Smith is joined by Michael Chasen, CEO of PrecisionHawk. The two discuss the latest from PrecisionHawk and the drone industry as a whole.


#095 - Heavy Lift Drones with Parallel Flight Technologies

Joshua Resnick is CEO of Parallel Flight Technologies. Parallel Flight Technologies make hybrid powertrain, heavy-lift drones for commercial applications. Joshua is an ex-Tesla engineer who worked on their semi-truck. He created an incredibly novel powertrain for drones that gives hours of endurance.


#094 - Multispectral Drone Cameras For Agriculture with MicaSense

Drew Baustian, Business Development Manager at MicaSense, joins Ian to explain the finer points of multispectral drone cameras and imagery for precision agriculture. The pair discuss data capture, the science behind the tech, and use cases where multispectral imagery has been a difference-maker for agriculture end users. MicaSense recently released their Altum multispectral sensor.


#093 - How LAFD Uses Drones

LAFD is one of the largest fire departments in the world. Derrick Ward, a firefighter with 30 years of experience, is spearheading the use of drones as Lead UAS Pilot at LAFD. As Derrick reveals, there are many ways to use drones in fighting fires and on search and rescue missions. But the way to truly supercharge them is by sticking thermal cameras on them. Enter FLIR: the world leader in thermal imaging technology. Ian Smith, along with Randall Warnas, Global sUAS Segment Leader at FLIR, travel to LAFD Station 80s at LAX to discover how Derrick Ward and his team are using drones and thermal cameras to help save lives.


#092 - Fly Your Drone Over People (Legally) with ParaZero

Hear from Avi Lozowick, VP Policy & Strategy at ParaZero, on how to conduct drone operations over people, legally, with ParaZero's drone parachute systems.


#091 - Airbus Urban Air Mobility

Travis Mason is VP and Head of Certification & Regulation, Urban Air Mobility at Airbus. Travis most recently was MC at AUVSI's XPONENTIAL Conference 2019—the largest global gathering of unmanned systems technology in the world. Travis previously was Chief of Staff at Google X and worked with the Wing team on delivery drones. He's passionate about policy—and that's key—as he is charged with helping Airbus' Urban Air Mobility (UAM) technology launch globally. You may know UAM from other popular terminologies, such as but not limited to: flying cars, eVTOL, air taxis, passenger drones, and many more. The UAM challenge touches nearly all facets of policy, technology, society, and even ethics issues (what happens if a passenger-carrying eVTOL aircraft has to choose between saving the souls onboard or bystanders that might be on the ground?) Travis and Ian discuss a variety of issues and challenges around drones, on-demand urban aerial transport, and even the omnipresent urban scooters.


#090 - AirMap with David Hose, CEO

AirMap is a California-based startup that has raised $43.6M to help companies coordinate and scale drone operations in ever-changing airspace conditions. David Hose is AirMap's current CEO. Ian and David discuss:


#089 - Indoor Drone Inspections with Patrick Thevoz

Indoor drone inspections have become an enormous ROI booster for energy companies who own and operate industrial assets. Patrick Thevoz is CEO of Flyability, a Swiss company who specializes in building indoor inspection drones. Their latest drone, Elios 2, is an impressive feat of engineering. Patrick joins Ian to discuss the value that indoor inspection drones are bringing to their large enterprise customers. He also explains the engineering designs and decisions that went into the making of Elios 2.


#088 - Commercial UAV Expo

You’re about to hear an in-the-field, or rather, “around-the-pool” compilation of quick-take interviews with people with different backgrounds from 15 drone companies at Commercial UAV Expo 2018. The UAV Expo it’s a great place to be in October and perfectly situated and spaced 6-months from AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL so if you wanted, you can hit those two shows every year and then call it a day. This audio is from the Poolside Happy Hour from Commercial UAV Expo 2018. A big thanks to everyone who chatted with me (sorry if I butchered the spelling of your name! Was hard to transcribe from the audio):


#087 - DroneDeploy's Drone Mapping Software with Jono Millin

Jono Millin is co-founder and Chief Customer Officer (CCO) at DroneDeploy, a software company that specializes in building solutions for mapping business assets with drones. Jono goes in-depth into how DroneDeploy is leveraging computer vision, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to augment their in-house photogrammetry pipeline, Map Engine. DroneDeploy is a series C stage, venture-funded startup founded in 2013. The company has pioneered many technologies for aerial mapping and drone operations including Live Map (and Thermal Live Map), a new Counting A.I. module, and the hosts the world's largest App Market platform for drone data.


#086 - Flying Cars & eVTOL Aircraft

Can you imagine yourself buzzing around the urban landscape in a flying car in 2025? Bell—and companies such as Uber and Airbus—really want you to be. Whether you call it a flying taxi, a flying car, eVTOL aircraft, passenger drone, or air taxi, it all means the same thing—the future of urban mobility is approaching and it will manifest in electric aviation. Bell, one of the world's largest helicopter manufacturers, showcased their Nexus prototype hexacopter eVTOL aircraft (flying car) at CES 2019. I was there with Scott Drennan, Vice President of Innovation at Bell to have a chat about Bell Nexus and our destiny of advancing urban air mobility.


#085 - Drone Insurance with Brandon Packman of SkyWatch.AI

All about on-demand, risk-based drone insurance, featuring Brandon Packman, Head of Business Development at SkyWatch.AI. SkyWatch.AI is an innovative startup offering customers a new twist on drone insurance.


#084 - Drones At Skyward, A Verizon Company with Mariah Scott

Why did Verizon, a $30+ billion telecommunications company, acquire Skyward, a 4-year-old drone startup out of Portland? Mariah Scott, President of Skyward, joins Ian to discuss exactly that—the decision behind the Verizon acquisition, her thoughts on the direction of the drone industry in 2019, and why the future of UTM (Unmanned Traffic Management) is so critical. "UTM is a concept—it's a system of systems. It's like the internet, it's going to grow up over time. From Skyward's point of view, what we really want to see is global interoperability." - Mariah Scott, President, Skyward, A Verizon Company


#083 - CNN Air with Greg Agvent

Ian is joined by Greg Agvent, the Senior Director of CNN's Aerial Imagery and Reporting Unit—known as CNN Air. When evaluating drones for business, it's easy to think of all the things they can replace. For aerial journalism and newsgathering, helicopters are the first thing that come to mind. But if you think national media organizations are going to fire the helicopters in place of drones... think again. Drones aren't replacing traditional manned aircraft any time soon. The pair discuss how CNN is using drones in their Aerial Imagery and Reporting Unit; the types of hardware and software they use, when it's best to use a drone (or a helicopter), and getting the first waiver allowing the team to perform flights above people in the U.S.


#082 - Kespry Drones & Software with CEO George Mathew

Join Kespry's CEO, George Mathew, and host, Ian Smith, for a deep dive into Kespry's enterprise drone hardware and software offerings and outlook on where the industrial use of drones is heading. And would you like to know what the CEO of one of Airware's direct competitors thinks about them going out of business? Listen on and find out.


#081 - 2018 Drone Market Trends And Analysis with Colin Snow

Colin Snow, AKA "The Drone Analyst", joins the podcast for the 3rd year in a row to talk about his company, Skylogic Research's, annual report on the drone industry for 2018. Colin and Ian dive into five topics and key insights: • DJI's complete domination of 70%+ market share • Customers are buying more expensive drones • Drone service providers are reporting little revenue • High-accuracy mapping techniques are not being adopted quickly • Drone fleet sizes are small and number of flights are lower than anticipated


#080 - senseFly's Newest Drones - eBee X and ANAFI Work

In September 2018, Parrot Group's senseFly released some exciting new professional drones - the eBee X and the ANAFI Work - along with several new camera options. Jean-Thomas Célette, Chief Strategy & Product Officer at Parrot Group, joins Ian to provide an overview of the new drones and camera options from senseFly. New senseFly products include: eBee X drone ANAFI Work drone Aeria X camera Duet T camera S.O.D.A. 3D camera