Jeff Powell, VP
Once every few decades rises a technology that threatens to disrupt how industries operate and function. Drone technology is one of those innovations, uncovering an entire host of possibilities that was unheard of a few years back. While Jeff Powell, VP of Autel Robotics talks about this transformational journey, he stresses on how UAVs are becoming much more common for use within everyday tasks. In addition, these drones are evolving from a hobbyist/videographer’s equipment to being operated in larger capacities for various industries—deeming battery life, distance, and SDK applications as top priority requirements. Owing to this shift, Autel Robotics develops drone technology that suits the needs of the industrial and commercial companies, and evolves their platform as a tool, not as a toy. Operational since 2015, Autel Robotics offers a wide range of consumer, prosumer, and professional grade UAV systems catering to several industries including real estate, construction, and surveying, along with law enforcement, first-responder, and government agencies. In an interview with Enterprise Technology Review, Powell shares insights on the dawn of drones and the challenges associated with its implementation.
HOW IS AUTEL ROBOTICS EFFECTIVELY ADDRESSING THE PRIMARY CHALLENGES IN THE DRONE TECHNOLOGY SPACE?
Currently, our focus is concentrated on the decision makers within the law enforcement and first-responder agencies. The leaders from these industries have given us tremendous feedback and insights into their everyday requirements to be successful in their field. We spent hundreds of hours out in the field, across the country, providing demonstrations of our industry-leading ‘EVO’ drone to various agencies. The feedback we receive is integral for our engineers to make the advancements on current and future platforms.
KINDLY WALK US THROUGH YOUR DRONE TECHNOLOGY SOLUTION ON THE BASIS OF ITS METHODOLOGY, FEATURES, AND BENEFITS INVOLVED.
The EVO camera is ready to fly (RTF), out-of-the-box drone system, which enables any pilot to capture high- quality aerial imagery.
Autel Robotics has custom-built its camera with the highest quality optical glass to deliver crisp, rich color every time, offering best-in-class 4K/60FPS videos at 100Mbps. EVO currently stands as the only unit in the drone ecosystem that offers this high degree of video imagery. In addition, Autel Robotics takes the product to the next level by designing the UAV in a compact, foldable design, while featuring incredible specs in a small package. EVO uses a combination of the Ambarella H2 image processor and the Sony Exmor R 1 / 2.3 (real-glass optics) sensor that enables users to capture and reproduce detailed aerial imagery. In addition, this unique mix of technology permits the recording of high-quality videos in MOV and MP4 formats, while following H.264 or H.265 industry video compression standards.
COULD YOU PLEASE CITE A CASE STUDY ON HOW YOU HAVE ENABLED CLIENTS TO OVERCOME HURDLES AND ATTAIN DESIRED OUTCOMES WITH YOUR INNOVATIVE ARRAY OF SOLUTIONS?
While identifying the needs within the law enforcement and first-responder community, we uncovered a common frustration with long start-up times, geo-fencing limitations, and constant firmware updates of the drones. With our latest product, EVO, we aimed to overcome all of that with a rapidly deployable system and minimal restrictions from us, as a manufacturer. Users can launch EVO in about 45 seconds, and we never lock you out of a restricted flight area or force you to update the firmware. Professionals have increased their dependence on these tools, and we want EVO to be the go-to product for every situation.
WHAT ARE THE STRATEGIES EMPLOYED BY AUTEL ROBOTICS TO THWART THE MARKET COMPETITION AND WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENTIATING FACTORS THAT GIVE IT A COMPETITIVE EDGE?
Taking a customer-centric approach, Autel Robotics provides superior customer support based outside of Seattle, Washington, 7-days-a-week. This enables the users with any issue with their aircraft, to call Autel Robotics and speak to a live agent any time or day of the week. Additionally, we work hard to keep our customers flying their aircraft and find the best solutions to fit their needs. Not to mention, all of our agents hold a Part 107 remote pilot certificate, which helps them to confidently deliver information such as restrictions and specifics about the aircraft and flying conditions. In 2018, we’ve been attending targeted tradeshows and expositions that are specific to professionals requiring eyes in the skies. We value the face-to-face conversations and handshakes over a large, impersonal venue.
ARE THERE ANY FOOTPRINT EXPANSION PLANS OR PLATFORM ENHANCEMENT STRATEGIES THAT YOU CAN SHED LIGHT UPON?
We are developing solutions for professionals in both the com me r c i a l and industrial areas. On the basis of first-hand feedback, Autel Robotics was able to debut its fixed-wing drone ‘Kestrel’, which was showcased in CES 2016. The company is continually developing their software and hardware capabilities while looking at similar platforms with a smaller footprint. We are eager to provide these platforms to our partners and advance the Autel Robotics brand in the UAV industry. Through further innovation, the company plans to offer more advanced solutions and capabilities—knowing the current needs within the industry—and is using its resources to develop this technology and become a larger entity in the industry scene.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR AUTEL ROBOTICS?
We’re excited for what the future holds for Autel Robotics. We believe in partnerships, collaboration, and mutual understanding in order to have the right insight to be able to provide those solutions. The company is comfortably positioned to significantly grow its share in the UAV market and offer competitive solutions to consumers by 2019. We hold fast to the premise that we must drive innovation and focus on providing the solutions to the things that complicate our customer's work, passion, security, and safety.