VIDEO: Sony’s Drone Takes Flight

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Sony shows off Aerosense camera drone prototype.

Sony unveiled on Monday an impressive new industrial drone that some critics are saying could finally help the company pull off the turnaround it’s been waiting for.Due out next year, the drones are expected to carry loads of up to 22 pounds, and fly more than two hours at a maximum speed of 106 mph, according to The Wall Street Journal.Created as part of a tie-up with robotics company ZMP, the Aerosense venture combines Sony’s networking and sensing hardware with ZMP’s expertise to create the flying, watching robot.The buzz surrounding Sony’s unveiling of a drone prototype Monday — the fruit of a joint venture called Aerosense between Sony and Tokyo-based startup ZMP — was the latest sign that the company’s turnaround attempts are continuing to gain traction in the markets.

Japanese company Sony has released videos of two prototypes of its drones that they are creating, the AS-DTO1-E ‘experimental machine’ and the AS-MCO1-P prototype. By combining Sony’s imaging and telecommunications know-how with ZMP’s automated driving and robotics technologies, Aerosense aims to build drones, as well as serve other needs like measuring, surveying, observing, and inspecting. “By making it automated, drones will be considerably safer because many of [the] accidents today are caused by human errors,” Taniguchi said during a news conference, as reported by the Journal.

Investors seemed to share that optimism today as Sony’s stock rallied early — rising over 6 percent — the biggest intraday movement since February, though it traded lower in the day as a wide range of Asian tech stocks fell. The company’s unveiling also comes weeks after it reported a tripling of profits in the first quarter after slugging through losses for six of the past seven years, according to Bloomberg. Attendees to January’s CES in Las Vegas got a look at just how popular drones are becoming—from wrist-worn flying devices to tank-sized models for military use.

Sony had paired with ZMP Inc., a robotics firm specializing in autopilot technology, to offer commercial clients a method of aerial surveillance, using drones to inspect “aging infrastructure and survey land that is difficult to access.” Potential clients included farms and oil and gas companies. And though the legality of privacy and security concerns remain contested, experts say the money will largely come from big players in the commercial drone service business. “Application services, data services, licensing and legal services – once you start adding all of this into the mix, the size of the marketplace starts growing very, very quickly,” Dan Kara, an ABI Research analyst, told CNBC. Commercial drone use is still restricted in the U.S., but the FAA is working on new regulations to allow their use for things like package delivery by Amazon. It’s likely to be good news for internet and technology companies, including Amazon and Google, which are currently studying drones for package delivery.

By late afternoon in Tokyo, Panasonic sunk back to nearly 4 percent below its opening, and Nintendo lost much of its gains, though it was still up 2.5 percent. As Amazon prepares to start its drone delivery services next year, Sony will also begin catering to the commercial sector, Aerosense chief technology officer Kotaro Sabe told Bloomberg, specifically targeting the construction, logistics, and agriculture industries. The drone unveiling makes Sony just the latest major tech company to enter the space in a big way, with the likes of Amazon, Facebook, and Google all testing their own drones. Aerosense’s differentiator is supposed to be around its focus on business/enterprise customers, with services such as the inspection of aged infrastructure and surveying of difficult-to-access land. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which looks after airspace safety in the UK, recently launched a new drone awareness initiative, to encourage owners of unmanned aerial vehicles to operate them safely.

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