While once more at home in science fiction than real life, drones have rapidly become a tangible asset for businesses around the world. From Amazon’s drone deliveries to photographers’ aerial shots, there is no denying drones have permeated the modern world.
While the technology has taken the world by storm seemingly overnight, for aficionados John Young and Clayton Earney, the rise of the drone has been a long time coming. Having previously developed drone services together at a facility management company, the duo joined forces with consultant Toby Townrow to form Drone Evolution, after feeling their employer wasn’t exploiting drones to their full potential.
“We found ourselves saying ‘if only it could this, if only it could stay in the air longer’” Says John Young. “This led to conversations about improvement, as well as the other technologies available across the drone industry, many of which were being used by the clients we were servicing. From here we began to focus on the potential of tethered drones, which is where Drone Evolution was born.”
Clayton Earney said: “When we formed the company, we began looking into making it into a real business, focussing on solving some of the immediate challenges within the drone industry, as opposed to thinking about what we can do with them ourselves. It was a truly customer centric approach.”
Today, Drone Evolution caters to three core elements: services, development and consultancy. The services arm of the business allows clients to contract a drone flight, be it for roof inspections, 3-D Mapping, topographic surveys, video photography, thermal imaging or other bespoke activities.
Of course the services element focuses on existing technologies. Development, on the other hand, has seen Drone Evolution create its own tethered drone technology, which offers drone surveillance, security and management. Free flying drones can only stay in the air for around 20 minutes as opposed to a tethered system, which can stay in the air for hours at a time.
“From a security point of view, there are countless opportunities created by our tethered drones, which makes the security market a huge target for us. As such, we’ve set our ambitions globally right from the start, beginning by working with a major UK airport.” said Young.
Earney added: “The last piece of the puzzle for us is training. Commercially and individually, publicly and privately, drones are becoming a centerpiece of the modern world, so training on how to deploy, manage and navigate drones has become a rapidly growing industry. We want to provide a knowledgeable venue for other businesses to safely learn the ropes.”
With a rich history and understanding of drones between the partners, training other businesses to become self-sufficient in this area was always a natural part of Drone Evolution. This includes equipment setup, leasing, consultation and maintenance, among other areas.
“As well as working with security firms, we’re currently looking into security for events; for example, we’re partnering with the UK’s biggest provider of mobile kitchen equipment for global events such as the Olympics.” added Young. “Partnerships like this will be vital as we continue to grow our business, so we’re always on the lookout for interesting new partners.”
Due to the radical cost reductions and safety improvements offered by Drone Evolution, Earney believes future partnerships should be easy to come by. “Many inspections on roofs and other difficult to access areas are still being carried out by humans, which results in a significant amount of deaths each year. With drones, nobody is put at risk and the overhead cost is much cheaper. This is really the core of why we started Drone Evolution; sure, it’s a business benefit, but ultimately the loss of human lives is avoided, which is why we’re so passionate about what we do.”
Indirectly, the security benefits of drone technology expands far outside the world of business. The company is currently in conversation with a UK events company behind some of the country’s leading festivals.
“As well as the obvious benefits of having an eye in the sky, we’re looking at how we can expand that security once the festival is over. This involves monitoring pedestrian routes leaving the festival, ensuring everyone is safe not only at the festival, but long after they’ve made their way home.”
It’s clear then that the world as we know it is more than ready to widely adopt drone technology, but this doesn’t stop Young from looking towards the future.
“In three years’ time, the last of our products should be completed and in the marketplace, which is hugely exciting. By this point we predict between 30-50% of our trade taking place outside the UK as we increase our work with military organisations and defence agencies the world over. To facilitate this we’ll of course be looking to develop more partnerships, as well as taking on a much larger team to support the core elements of our business model.”
Drone Evolution successfully raised its funds through the Angels Invest Co Fund, the very first investment of its type in Wales.
We at ESTnet look forward to seeing what John, Clayton, Toby and the Drone Evolution team have in store for the future, and wish them every success along the way.