Drones are coming of age as they enter the public consciousness and commercial arena as more than military weapons or unmanned experimental crafts or science fiction fantasy.

Drones started life in the military but now find themselves in parcel transportation, surveillance, inspecting civil projects like roads and bridges, or mapping. They are also being used in commercial work such as real estate. Hip and tech savvy realtors are offering the service of drone based videos of your home or property.  Of course there are people who are also using them for fun photos and videos, entertainment and sometimes nefarious uses.

Our forthcoming report (2016) includes an assessment of the capabilities of the companies and products. The market is roughly divided into three segments:

Consumer drones

These go from toy like inexpensive drones costing $75 to $200 to more robust, higher quality video and photo taking consumer drones that could be described as prosumer level.

Examples include GoPro’s Karma to be introduced in 2016.

Enterprise Drones and Transportation Companies

Google, Facebook, Amazon look ready to introduce their own versions of drones in 2016. Deutsche Post, Fed-Ex are examples of ‘pure’ transportation companies developing drones for their own use.

Defense, government and military

Lockheed, Boeing and others

Here are just a few of the top drone companies:

DJI http://www.dji.com/

Founded in 2006,  DJI is a Chinese technology company headquartered in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, China. It manufactures commercial and recreational unmanned aerial vehicles for aerial photography and videography.

Parrot http://www.parrot.com/usa/

Parrot was founded in 1994 and  is a wireless products manufacturer company, based in Paris, France. Parrot’s introduced its first drone, the Parrot AR.Drone, in 2001, and has continued expanding its product line to include the Mini-Drone, AR Drone 3.0 Bebop and Parrot Skycontroller, a RC-like remote control equipped with a Wi-Fi amplifier for extended flight range.

Airware www.airware.com

Airware has developed flexible, cost-effective autopilots that serve as the “brains” for drones. San Francisco based Airware’s autopilots have been implemented in drones that have delivered vaccines to remote locations in Southeast Asia and gtracked the endangered withe rhino in a conservancy in Kenya. in 2014 Airware announced a $10.7 million Series A round of funding (Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures.)

Matternet  www.mttr.net

Develop and deploy a low-cost, low-energy network of drones to anywhere in the world, particularly in places with inefficient or non-existent road infrastructure. Matternet’s drones transport small packages for courier transportation in congested cities or vaccines to the developing world. Matternet was formed at silicon valley’s Singularity University in 2011. Matternet ONE is the first smart drone for transportation. “Send things through the air — magically, with the touch of a button.”

Skycatch https://www.skycatch.com/

Skycatch helps property owners keep track of vast geographic areas by capturing data. e.g. Real-time mapping of construction projects.Skycatch drones have been used by SolarCity and First Solar, both installers of solar panels. Skycatch raised over $13 million in equity funding.