Rent a Drone

A con­sult­ing group will help you with it

The Economic Times - - World View - DRAKE BEN­NETT

A strate­gic con­sult­ing firm called 32 Ad­vi­sors has an­nounced the cre­ation of a drone sub­sidiary called Mea­sure. Rather than build or sell drones, the US-based com­pany will of­fer what it calls “Drone as a Ser­vice”. Think Rent-a-Drone. Com­pa­nies that be­lieve they might have use for a drone — but don’t have the money, ex­per­tise, or in­ter­est to buy, run and main­tain their own drone or drone fleet — could hire Mea­sure to do it for them. Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Bran­don Tor­res De­clet is a for­mer leg­isla­tive aide and lob­by­ist spe­cial­is­ing in home­land se­cu­rity is­sues. Here’s what he says about it: “We pro­vide a ‘Drone as a Ser­vice’ plat­form, a turnkey so­lu­tion. So if an oil and gas com­pany tells us, ‘Look, we have to fly our pipe­line ev­ery two weeks,’ we’ll pro­vide the drone, the op­er­a­tor, the sen­sor or other pay­load, and fly it for them.” At a time when drones are get­ting cheaper and widely avail­able, why not just buy one’s own? The an­swer, says De­clet, is that while a quad­copter bought from Ama­zon is fine for a hob­by­ist, pa­trolling hun­dreds of miles of pipe­line or mon­i­tor­ing an in­dus­trial-level farm re­quires larger, more ex­pen­sive, harder-to-fly air­craft able to stay aloft much longer and fly much far­ther.

That’s the sort of craft that cur­rently pa­trols the skies of Ye­men and Pak­istan look­ing for and killing ter­ror­ists. Mea­sure is quick to say that it will not of­fer its ser­vices for mil­i­tary uses. In ad­di­tion to agri­cul­ture and oil and gas, De­clet be­lieves there will be de­mand in search-and-res­cue op­er­a­tions, the pro­tec­tion of en­dan­gered wildlife, po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions, real es­tate pho­tog­ra­phy and so forth. He men­tions ship­ping, an idea Jeff Be­zos fa­mously floated.

The com­pany doesn’t yet have clients, though it is talk­ing with a few po­ten­tial ones, De­clet says. For now, Mea­sure can­not op­er­ate in the US— the FAA is still for­mu­lat­ing rules and reg­u­la­tions for commercial drone use and is sched­uled to re­lease them by 2015.

Mean­while, if any­one tries to ap­pro­pri­ate the phrase “Drone as a Ser­vice,” Mea­sure will not hes­i­tate, says De­clet, to take le­gal ac­tion.

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