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Capitalizing on Drone Data Analytics with Services Transforming Agriculture and Beyond

USA News Group – According to the World Bank’s Food Security Update 2023, food insecurity is on the rise across the globe. Among the more promising solutions being proposed is better data analytics of crops and soil, which is also being tied to the rise in data collection done with drone technology. It’s a sector that’s growing extremely rapidly, with analysts projecting the Drone Data Services market to explode by a CAGR of 39% from 2023 to 2030, to eventually top $15 billion. Many of the world’s problems can and will be aided and even solved by better data collection, and there are plenty of companies looking to capitalize on drone-collected data, as well as artificial intelligence (AI) powered data analysis, including

Scope Carbon Corp. (CSE:SCPE) (OTC:SCPCF), GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO), AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV),, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) (NEO:AMZN), and EHang Holdings Limited (NASDAQ:EH).

Starting with the agricultural sector, Scope Carbon Corp. (CSE:SCPE) (OTC:SCPCF) has been quite active in this space, through its relationship with drone tech and data collection developers Farm Flight, which Scope is in the process of acquiring. Farm Flight’s advanced imagery and analytics capabilities are designed to drastically improve the efficiency of their agricultural clients, by collecting data over properties through the use of drones. As per the goals of the partnership, Scope is developing an AI-driven imagery platform that when combined with Farm Flight’s capabilities, is anticipated to be able to provide an effective scalable program that would improve the efficiency of the agricultural industry on a mass market scale, and thereby bolstering the profitability of farmers across North America.

The promising potential of the collaboration was enough to attract the attention of Patrick Burke, whom the company recently announced as a Strategic Advisor.

"Scope is poised to be tremendously impactful through mapping and data mining across multiple geographic zones,” said Burke upon his new role’s announcement. “Using AI technology with drones, the software generates vast amounts of data from agricultural crops, marine biology, and forestation to name a few.”

Burke’s resume is impressive, given his current role as Senior Advisor of Capital Markets at Canaccord Genuity, as well as 7 years as President of the Canadian Capital Markets division for the same fund. He’s also served as Global Head of Equity and Co-Head of Global Investment Banking for Scotiabank, as well as Managing Director and Head of Canadian Equities for Merrill Lynch, and working in institutional equity and fixed income for Bank of Montreal.

Scope is uniquely positioned to be a leader in carbon mapping, data aggregation, and monitoring,” added Burke. “The efficiency of AI software being developed, combined with the value of the data will make the Company essential to their identified customer base. The model is to be ESG forward, which allows for significant efficiencies and provides cost savings to clients."

As the drone technology improves, so too does that of the cameras attached to them. In the case of GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ:GPRO), which is often attached to drones to capture data, their technology is going beyond just agriculture, and into wildlife preservation as well.

For example, researchers from Flinders University recently touted the efficacy of their efforts using technologies such as cameras and AI to help conservation efforts. At the core of their research was the use of drones.

"Drones have become a popular conservation tool especially when monitoring cryptic species or animals in remote or inaccessible locations,” said Dr. Diane Colombelli-Négrel, a Lecturer in Animal Behavior and Penguin Ecologist who has studied the heart-rate and responses of captive koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) to test the effects of drone activity near their trees. "We developed a non-invasive way to measure heart rate in koalas using a Fitbit and to record their behavior and breathing rate with mobile GoPro camera when we flew drones about 15m above their heads in the wildlife park enclosure. Koalas responded to the drone flight with a short-term increase in vigilance but no change in heart rate or breathing rate—indicating that drones may not have a long-term detrimental effect on koalas' fitness or energy demands.”

Now the market is looking towards the increasing capabilities of the drones themselves, with much of the attention being grabbed by, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) (NEO:AMZN) and its drone deliveries.

Back in May 2023, Amazon announced it had successfully used its drone tech wing dubbed Prime Air for 100 drone deliveries. Amazon said thousands of people “have expressed interest” in the program and that the company is “working with each one of them to make this a reality.”

As regulations shift, companies could unlock significant sustainability and cost advantages, making drone delivery a more attractive option for retailers and consumers, according to McKinsey Research. However, by August, there were some setbacks at Prime Air, as Amazon lost two executives key to the company’s drone delivery operations.

Beyond packages, coming out of China is the possibility of passenger drones, or “drone taxis” from EHang Holdings Limited (NASDAQ:EH) which recently was cleared for takeoff with unmanned aircraft. EHang received safety approval certficiation from China’s aviation authority. The 'type certification' from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is for EHang's 216-S model, a 16-rotor drone that can carry two passengers at speeds of 130 kilometres an hour at a max range of 30 kilometres.

“I extend my heartfelt gratitude to CAAC, the expert team, and all EHang employees for their unwavering dedication,” said Huazhi Hu, Founder, Chairman and CEO of EHang. “Our self-developed EH216-S passenger-carrying UAV system has finally met high expectation to secure the first TC in the global eVTOL industry, marking a significant chapter in civil aviation history. Embracing the TC as our springboard, we will launch commercial operations of the EH216-S unmanned eVTOLs, prioritizing safety above all. This will enable us to steadily progress towards our strategic goal to be a UAM platform operator, and commit to our mission to enable safe, autonomous, and eco-friendly air mobility accessible to everyone.”

Beyond commercial use, another benefit being touted for drones in service is that of attack drones for military defense. With rising conflicts now happening in multiple regions on the planet, help is on the way from AeroVironment, Inc. (NASDAQ:AVAV), which has received a 100-plus order from the US military to deliver Switchblade 600 attack drones to Ukraine.

The Switchblade 600 is "tremendously important to the defense of Ukraine," said Charlie Dean, the vice president of global business development and marketing at defense contractor AeroVironment in an interview with Newsweek. Under development for more than a decade, AeroVironment’s original 300 model is still being tweaked and updated today, while the larger Switchblade 600 has been crafted to take out enemy tanks and armored vehicles littered across a battlefield, with the latest models capable of flying more than 40 minutes, with a loitering speed of 70 miles per hours.

In contrast to traditional artillery, Switchblades offer the advantage of scanning an area for targets even after they've been deployed. AeroVironment, the company behind these drones, is continuously gaining insights from real-world use in Ukraine, according to Dean. A persistent line of communication exists between the company and Ukrainian operators of the Switchblade drones. This enables rapid design improvements or adjustments, often within a matter of weeks.

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