Sony is the latest company to get into drones, but not in the way that you would expect.
The company likely won’t use drones to film its upcoming emoji movie, and they probably won’t go the route of GoPro in introducing a quadcopter drone.
Instead, Sony’s drones will look for data.
Sony Mobile Communications Inc. SNE, +0.03% announced Wednesday it is collaborating with Japanese robotics firm ZMP Inc. to develop and launch autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles for image capture combined with cloud-based data processing. The two companies are jointly founding and owning Aerosense Inc., which will use data from drones for measuring, surveying, observing and inspecting.
That means a farmer may use Aerosense to monitor discoloration in her crops, or an insurance company could use drones to inspect a building.
“Sony Mobile is proactively engaging in new business creation initiatives, with a particular focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) sector,” according to a Sony news release. “This joint venture represents a part of this push into IoT, as Sony strives to provide its customers with additional value by developing and managing total package cloud solutions.”
A Sony spokesman told The Wall Street Journal it would sell services using drones, but not the drones themselves.
“Aerosense devices will be equipped with Sony image sensors, a core product for the company used in Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Samsung Electronic Co.’s Galaxy,” the Journal reported.
For all the fear surrounding drones mounted with guns or skepticism about whether Amazon’s delivery drones would really work, it seems that using drones for data may be the future.
“If drones are going to change our society in the very near future, it won’t be because we got our Kleenex delivered from the air instead of by truck,” New American field analyst Faine Greenwood wrote in an article on Slate. “It will be because they democratized access to information.”
Rather than compete with DJI, the world’s largest drone maker, or GoProGPRO, -2.86% which announced plans to manufacture drones to bolster camera sales, the Aerosense project capitalizes on Sony’s current technology, including cameras and sensors.
Sony said it expected an operating profit of 320 billion yen ($2.7 billion) and net income of 140 billion yen in the current financial year, helped by booming sales of digital-image sensors for smartphone cameras, according to an April report on MarketWatch.