With Amazon and Google working on autonomous delivery drones and dozens of quadcopters on the market already, it seems the unmanned flying vehicles are here to stay. But for businesses to make the most of what that offers, an infrastructure will need to be built around this fledgling industry to make sure it operates safely, fairly and efficiently.
That means there’s plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs, and not just in making the drones themselves. Take Verifly, a new startup that aims to make drone flight safer. It’s founded by the American entrepreneur Jay Bregman, who also had a hand in launching the British taxi app startup Hailo back in 2010.
Verifly plans to create a register of operators, connect them with authorities and use technology to help them comply with local regulations. It might sound a bit functional and dull, but Bregman’s clearly got something right – the startup has just netted £1.4m from investors including Irelandia Aviation (run by Declan Ryan, of the family behind Ryanair) and The Accelerator Group.
‘People are scared of drones. All they hear about are the problems. We’re here to promote trust,’ Bregman told the Sunday Times. ‘There should be a world where people are not nervous when they see a drone making a delivery.’
Regulators have keen caught napping by the explosion in popularity of drones and in many countries there are no specific laws about the way drones should be operated. But Bregman said Europe was well ahead of the US in that regard - and for that reason the UK and Ireland have the potential to be world-leaders in drone technology.