Airware isn’t going after the hobbyist market—those RC helicopters, planes and quadcopters that can be bought for as little as $100.
Airware is all about commercial aircraft—all manner of fixed-wings and choppers that range from a few thousand to tens of thousands of dollars, depending on what they do, says Airware CEO Jonathan Downey. Think somewhere between military-grade and consumer: “It’s definitely a nascent market, but there is a huge unmet need,” says Downey, a commercial-rated pilot himself.
In Japan, for example, farmers are using drones to monitor high-value crops in precision agriculture settings. Drones equipped with cameras and chemical-sniffing sensors are also being deployed to zip over miles of power lines in Europe and oil pipelines in Africa. In the French Alps they are being used to aid in mountain search-and-rescue, and again in Africa drones equipped with RFID tag readers are keeping tabs on animals and helping with anti-poaching efforts. “Anywhere it is too expensive or too dangerous to send in a person,” Downey says.