INTERGEO always throws up something new. The key things I took away from the show this year revolve around how tough the industry is and new technology. Continuing on from my first blog post regarding tough market conditions and the emergence of Africa, this second blog post shares my thoughts on UAVs and disruptive technology.
The last few years have seen an incredible explosion in the number of UAV platforms and suppliers targeting the geospatial market. Whilst UAV’s undoubtedly have a huge role to play in the future of aerial survey, I find it hard to believe that many of these companies will establish a long term business in this market.
Today it feels like there are too many companies chasing too few opportunities in a crowded and as yet mostly unproven market. There will inevitably be a cull at some point with the survival of the fittest falling into one of two types:
Providers of UAV survey as a service that are able to convert their ideas into a commercially viable model (such as Skeye who impressed me with their deeper understanding of the challenges of survey than many of their competitors); or
UAV hardware manufacturers with deep pockets able to play the long game (such as Leica and Trimble)
The current market reminds me very much of the LiDAR market in the 1990’s, with lots of companies trying to jump on the bandwagon at a time when many customers are still sceptical of the services UAV can actually provide. Back then, LiDAR (many chose to spell it LIEdar!) was still very much an unproven technology, whereas today it is well established and accepted in the geospatial market and asked for by name.
UAV will become mainstream just like LiDAR, of that there is little doubt, but it still is very much in its infancy with some significant growing pains still to come!
The Xcam Revolution
Getmapping was lucky to have one of our key partners, Waldo Air, over from the US to share our stand this year. Getmapping and Waldo Air have just signed a strategic deal to create a new joint venture company – GeoXphere, which was soft launched at Intergeo (having only been signed the week before).
GeoXphere has been formed to combine the power of Waldo Air’s Xcam survey technology with Getmapping’s web-based solutions software to provide users with the ability to capture and deliver imagery to their clients quickly and easily using the revolutionary Xcam camera system (that sits on the outside of an aircraft) and the Xmap web GIS software to deliver the resultant data. For more information visit www.GeoXphere.com.
The Xcam is disruptive technology, not least because it does not require all of the traditional survey support (an aircraft with an internal camera hole, IMU etc) and is available to lease rather than just buy. As you would expect, there was huge interest in the GeoXphere concept at the show and the stand was inundated with interested potential partners and end users.
Over the coming months we will see Xcam pushing for a place between UAV’s and Large Format systems around the world and changing the way some projects are undertaken across the survey market.