Updates from INTERGEO about senseFly’s new eBee Plus system as well as YellowScan and AltiGator’s fully integrated LiDAR-capture UAV weighing only 5.6 kg were big news, but arguably the most significant item to come out of the event concerns the sale of Gatewing, Trimble’s UAS business. Delair-Tech has purchased the product, but the sale signifies something even bigger in terms of the sorts of shifts we’ll continue to see throughout the drone market.

It’s important to understand how and why this is significant for both Trimble and operators in the present though, and I was able to connect with Todd Steiner from Trimble at INTERGEO to provide some context from their perspective.

“We knew that getting Gatewing in the hands of a focused UAV manufacturer would lead to a faster paced development cycle for the product, while at the same time freeing up Trimble to focus on our core strengths in order to help bring our customers complete solutions,” Steiner said. “Many of our customers have mixed fleets, and we need to give them the ability to get the deliverables they need. We want to enable our customers to make the right choices that are going to work best for them.”

Being able to focus on their core strengths will no doubt lead to further developments for the Trimble Business Center, which provides users with the capability to edit, process, and adjust geospatial data and create deliverables. Additionally, UASMaster is already an option for anyone wanting or needing something a bit more involved, and the solutions’ integrated interactive context-driven and automated editing capabilities for geo-referencing and point clouds will no doubt be further updated and refined now that Trimble will focus their UAV-related efforts exclusively on these sorts of products.

We’ve seen numerous partnerships and acquisitions in the drone space recently, and Trimble’s announcement is further proof that such things are about more than a trend. They’re an indication that the companies behind these products are working through where they can and should be focusing their efforts. They're a hint at how the market as a whole will continue to evolve and be reshaped.

dsc00278Creating a complete drone solution is something that operators are asking for in many different contexts, but that complete solution doesn’t necessarily need to come from a single organization. Being able to leverage solutions that will ensure operators can get the deliverable they need is what matters, and if organizations are focused on what they do best because they’ve been freed up to do so by a partnership or acquisition, then everyone benefits. That concept was underscored by the strategic alliance agreement Delair-Tech has signed to partner with Trimble as its preferred provider of UAV solutions.

The future of the drone industry is going to be defined by organizations that are able to provide the most relevant and powerful tools. Mergers, partnerships and acquisitions will continue to be a major topic in this space since they represent one of the best ways to ensure those tools are created and developed, regardless of how they fit into a complete drone solution.