January 4, 2016
Startup competitions are everywhere. They draw the best ideas and best people with hope of winning at the least interest from investors and enough traction keep grinding. After Celebrate 2015, drone startup Botlink has stayed the course and capitalized on the growing drone market. Al Winmill is the VP of Marketing and Communications for Botlink. He took the time to tell me about recent company developments.
Botlink is a mobile software platform pilots use on their cellular device to maneuver and track their drones. They don’t make the hardware or chassis for drones. Winmill told me they recently hired several more developers to refine and enhance the platform’s UX for a better feel and simpler UI. Botlink also brought a project manager into the fold to streamline processes and communication.
Botlink is now compatible with GoPro cameras. Previously, Botlink used a Sony camera. Using GoPro capitalizes on Botlink’s strength of the cellular connection through mobile devices. The wireless connectivity is what Winmill believes will be a major factor in company growth. Not to mention, the company’s relationship with Verizon and other cellular carriers allows them to buy large amounts of data at a substantial discount.
Recently the FAA announced that it would require drone registration. Winmill said Botlink’s goal is helping all pilots stay compliant with regulations. He said there are plans to eventually integrate the registration process into the app, but that is several versions down the road. The FAA still has to work out the requirements and details on their end before Botlink can do anything. Winmill did say drone registration is very simple, and that one registration number will cover all drone for a single business or person. This means one business with several drones doesn’t have to pay multiple fees to operate.
Recent stories of drones buzzing the President’s motorcade and drones hindering the efforts of firefighters in California have cast a less than favorable light on drone usage. According to Winmill, pilots are responsible for proper usage, and in the end the community will police itself or the government will step in and handle it for them; he made a point to say Botlink encourages all pilots to be respectful with their drones and how they are used.
I asked Winmill about a previous article about development of a solar-powered drone through a partnership with Packet Digital. He responded that that project isn’t their focus currently. With the growing market for drones in real estate, construction, and infrastructure development, Botlink isn’t focused on solar power now. Other uses for drones that most people haven’t taken in serious consideration include drone usage to increase worker safety. Drones are used to inspect wind turbines and cell towers – this eliminates the need for costly harnesses and extra employees to keep each other safe. Instead, a single worker with a drone can stand on the ground and use a drone to remotely inspect turbines and towers for future maintenance. Doing so will save money for companies through lower labor costs and potential lost time due to accidents.
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