Sony reveals Aerosense camera drone prototype
Sony has unveiled a prototype of a camera drone shaped like an aeroplane, which can take off and land vertically and fly for more than two hours at a maximum speed of 106 miles an hour.
The drone has been developed by Aerosense, a joint-venture launched in July between Sony and Japanese robotics firm ZMP. The venture is part of Sony’s efforts to move beyond its core consumer products into enterprise markets.
The Aerosense partnership brings together Sony's camera, sensing, telecommunications network and robotics technologies with ZMP's automated driving and robotics technologies.
The drone is reportedly capable of carrying objects weighing up to 10kg. However, its primary use will be to capture images from the sky, process these images in the cloud, and provide a range of services to businesses such as measuring, surveying, observing and inspecting.
The drones will be piloted automatically, based on input from users about which areas customers want measured or surveyed.
By making it automated, drones will be considerably safer because many of accidents today are caused by human errors,”said Hisashi Taniguchi, chief executive of Aerosense and ZMP, at a news conference
Aerosense plans to start offering services to customers in 2016. Mr Taniguchi told the Wall Street Journal that the company is targeting ¥10 billion (£53m) in revenue by 2020.
Drones are a growing area of research and development among internet and technology companies, as the sensors and technologies needed to sustain stable flight for longer periods of time have become cheaper and more readily available.
TV and film companies have long used drones to capture scenes from the air, and companies such as Amazon and Google are exploring using them for package delivery.
However, the rules governing use of drones are still evolving. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), which looks after airspace safety in the UK, recently launched a new drone awareness initiative, to encourage owners of unmanned aerial vehicles to operate them safely.
It pointed to the so-called "dronecode", which states that users must fly drones "within sight" and at a maximum height of 400ft high, and keep them away from aircraft, helicopters, airports and airfields.