This week PrecisionHawk launched The Algorithm Marketplace, a webstore for apps that provide analysis of drone data. The Marketplace is designed to supply smart analytic capabilities to anyone, helping business and asset owners who have too much drone data and too little actionable information.

Currently the system is in beta and includes an "initial" set of algorithms for precision agriculture, but the company promises that the platform will soon include algorithms for UAV environmental monitoring, energy, insurance, and infrastructure assessment.

The workflow is simple, said Thomas Haun, VP of Strategy and Globalization. "You go out and capture your UAV data, and then once that data is uploaded into the cloud, it is automatically processed. So you're given the building blocks to do further analysis. All a user would have to do is click a button to say "I want to run this app" or algorithm, and then get the output from that."

Haun offered a few examples of possible infrastructure assessment apps. An app might perform automatic 3D reconstruction or modeling. Each type of infrastructure might have its own app that can detect anomalies by utilizing data gathered by drones--one app might detect a crack in a pipe, another app might detect an anomaly in a building.

PrecisionHawk has been working for the past 18 months to aggregate more than 100 aerial analysis algorithms from universities and other research partners around the world. The market is free and open to anyone who wants to post their analysis tools in exchange for a share of the sales revenue, including students and private companies.

Users can buy these UAV data analysis apps from the Marketplace one at a time, but PrecisionHawk has bigger plans. The research partners who developed the algorithms for sale in the marketplace often know how the algorithms are used in a commercial setting, which means that PrecisionHawk will be able to offer collections of drone data apps in the future. "In agriculture, this package might be meant for a corn farmer. It would include all of the algorithms that need to be run by that corn farmer."

Haun emphasized that the platform will remain open and accommodate the hardware its customers are already using. "We don't expect that there's going to be one given set of hardware used," he said, "and so what we have tried to do on the analysis side is integrate several different UAV hardware players. Some of the most popular drones used in agriculture, or insurance, or oil and gas--we are working to integrate with them so that our analysis can be run on the data that's captured from that UAV."

PrecisionHawk hopes that their Marketplace will help the commercial drone market to grow by eliminating one of its biggest lasting problems--customers who purchase a drone and then have difficulty making sense of the data it gathers.

"What we saw was UAVs doing a tremendous job capturing data," Haun explained, "and then there are some building blocks that are created when that data is processed. But it is still just data. It's not delivering an answer or an insight to the end user. That's what our algorithm marketplace is designed to do--it's to shift from collecting lots of data to providing an insight from which you can make a decision."