Video: Ottawa firms take off in rapidly evolving drone industry

Techopia Live took to the skies this week to hear from local firms about the opportunities for drone pilots and the restrictions concerning entrepreneurs.

Twenty years ago, when ING Robotic Aviation founder Ian Glenn was just getting started in the field, the drone industry was geared heavily towards military applications. Few stakeholders in commercial industries saw the potential in drones that he says he was pushing, until flying robots began popping up in electronics stores across the country.

“Someone figured out how to make a cheap quadcopter… you walk into BestBuy, you’re a pilot,” Glenn told Techopia Live. “Drones suddenly went from spy drones, killer drones to cool – and a product.”

He says that advancements in robotic aviation are highly disruptive, and have left government regulator Transport Canada struggling to keep up. Increasingly accessible drones have meant any hobbyist is a pilot, as well as a potential threat to air traffic and citizens’ privacy.

Glenn says that the longer it takes for the government to play catch-up on proper regulations, the less opportunity Canadian firms have to capitalize on the disruptive industry.

Uzayr Sedeke, however, isn’t letting the popularity of drones pass him by. He’s the founder of DroneEntry, a social and professional platform for drone pilots to connect, learn and authenticate themselves. Sedeke says his startup, which will be on display at the Big Drone Show in Toronto next month, can help drone enthusiasts transition from hobbyists to commercial pilots.

“As it’s coming from military to commercial, a lot more drone pilots are being engaged in the sky,” he told Techopia Live.

The startup’s platform has roles for casual and professional pilots, as well as for organizations looking to tap certain talent for a project. Users can display certifications, skills, software knowledge and drone specs on their profiles, or just connect to find a flight buddy.

“Knowing who’s using what … would be essential,” he says.

As global regulations solidify, Sedeke says the platform will help this network of drone pilots understand how restrictions vary from country to country, and how they can operate safely and effectively no matter where they are or what their projects might be.

Watch the video above to learn more about drones’ evolutions from a military implement to hobbyist’s toy and commercial opportunity.