PrecisionHawk launches UAS data app store

By Emily Aasand | June 04, 2015

PrecisionHawk has launched the first app store for drone data analysis, The Algorithm Marketplace. The Marketplace will give anyone the ability to create a solution and license it for profit and allows any unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operator to take advantage of automated analysis instead of hiring a remote sensing specialist. The system uses algorithms which eliminates the need for drone operators to have a background in geographic information system (GIS) or remote sensing to interpret collected aerial data. The BETA system includes initial algorithms in agriculture, but users can expect solutions to be deployed in the areas of environmental monitoring, energy, insurance and infrastructure assessment, according to PrecisionHawk.

The Algorithm Marketplace is automating the historically manual and tedious process of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) data analytics. “The ability to draw from a suite of data analysis tools based on a company’s specific need and receive immediate action report offers a huge advantage to drone operators,” said Lia Reich, senior communications director for PrecisionHawk. “Users will now have access to greater sophistication and algorithms that the commercial marketplace may not offer.”

“We spent the past 18 months aggregating more than 100 aerial analysis algorithms from leading research partners in North America and Europe,” said Ally Ferguson, PrecisionHawk director of geospatial applications. “Although several are deployed now, we are testing many of our internal and partner solutions in real world environments throughout the summer of 2015.”

“As we deploy additional automation and verification tools over the next few months, users can expect many of the analysis algorithms to process in as little as a few minutes, empowering a wide variety of industries,” said Andrew Slater, PrecisionHawk vice president of software. “Automation benefits companies who not only need answers quickly, but also those who need to control costs when they need to analyze large volumes of aerial data.”

The market is free and open to companies, universities and students to post and monetize their analysis tools, with a share of the revenue generated from every algorithm sale going back to the partner. In addition to the algorithm, automation tools can be set to private by companies who wish to extract the benefit of automation without sharing any IP with anyone outside their business, PrecisionHawk says.

The Marketplace will benefit the UAS industry in a few ways. First, PrecisionHawk is taking the specialist out of the process, which will allow anyone collecting data with a UAV to ensure a measurable ROI based on a need. Second, on an open IP platform, a client can build, test and license an algorithm in the marketplace and collect revenue for each use. “This will bring a wealth of options to the table to optimize the use and push the boundaries of what we can do with UAV data,” the company said.

More than 40 university and corporate partners including Texas A&M and Mississippi State University are providing analysis products for the marketplace.

“The Algorithm Marketplace opens up the remote sensing community and allows institutions like Texas A&M to see its research solve tangible real world problems for non-technical users,” said Michael Bishop, director of the center of geospatial sciences, applications and technology at Texas A&M University.

The Algorithms will help companies better evaluate change in conditions over time, the company says. To help achieve this, PrecisionHawk acquired Terraserver, an online satellite imagery provider, to allow users to link satellite and drone data.

“We kept finding that we needed satellite data to create software solutions for the drone industry,” said Stefan Lataille, PrecisionHawk GIS scientist. “Drone platforms need to understand their environment, and Terraserver, with its access to historical and current satellite data provides the building blocks to create better analysis tools for drone users to identify how the world changes over time.”

Reich added, “We do not simply offer a UAV with a sensor on it. We are aiming to link together an entire solution for the market.”


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