3D Robotics was slated to become the GM of the drone world. The Silicon Valley-based drone manufacturer led by former Wired magazine editor in chief and technology pundit Chris Anderson was poised to dominate the U.S. UAS manufacturing market with deals that included distribution with Best Buy. Then the bottom fell out.
Chinese-manufacturer DJI pushed out new models, lowered prices by 30%, and started dominating the marketplace in the same manner Japanese manufactured automobiles and stereo equipment did in the 1980's. It was a move that setback the U.S. drone making industry substantially.
With the consumer drone market now waning as the commercial drone market expands, 3D Robotics has pivoted its business model to become a software provider of drone-based solutions targeting the $8 billion per-year global construction industry.
Their new service is called Site Scan and combines flying drones with software to track the progress of construction projects, and pot potential problems from the air. Although an industry analyst questioned whether Site Scan will help 3D Robotics take off again, Anderson believes the world’s construction industry needs a technology upgrade, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
“You don’t think about construction that much, but it’s all around you and it’s a huge source of employment,” Anderson said during a press briefing this week. “It’s the infrastructure of our nations and it is in many ways still living in the paper era. So what we need to do is digitize the construction industry.”
Site Scan provides a solution for construction managers to track progress, monitor resources, and detect potential problems before the exacerbate. It is a good solution, but one that finds itself in already crowded marketplace. Whether or not will will be enough to salvage 3D Robotics remains to be seen.