Sony launches into corporate drone business

A partnership between Sony and ZMP will see data-collecting drones developed for the enterprise.


Sony and ZMP have revealed plans to plunge into the drone market in order to develop robotic solutions for data collection purposes within the enterprise.

Businesses can apply the use of autonomous aerial vehicles (UAVs) to their business strategies in beneficial ways. Farmers, for example, can use UAVs to conduct surveys of their land and monitor any changes. Insurance companies could use drones to enter unsafe areas or places where natural disasters have occurred to collect data on damage to customer properties, and the oil and gas industry could also use UAVs for similar survey purposes.

The scope for drone use within the enterprise is endless. As the market expands and UAVs rise in popularity, companies can capitalize on this emerging industry for the benefit of their future profit margins.

In a press release, the Tokyo, Japan-based firm said the companies will jointly create a new company, dubbed Aerosense, which will focus on creating UAV solutions for "image capture combined with cloud-based data processing."

Sony's camera, sensing, telecommunications network, and robotics technologies will be merged with ZMP's expertise in automated driving, autopilot technology and robotics.

Aerosense has been formed with the acceleration of the Internet of Things (IoT) market in mind, and plans to develop drones for businesses which need solutions for data collection including "measuring, surveying, observing and inspection."

ZMP's slogan is "Robot of Everything: To create a safe, fun and comfortable lifestyle with robotics technology." The company, which sells consumer robotics and autonomous driving solutions, says ZMP has previously been "limited to the ground" but will now "apply its expertise in an entirely different realm."

Aerosense aims to roll out its first enterprise-based products in 2016.

The joint venture is set for launch this August and will be based in Tokyo, Japan in the Bunkyo-ku district. The companies have invested a total of 100 million yen as a capital reserve, and Sony has invested marginally more than ZMP in the JV -- owning a fraction more than 50 percent of the joint venture, while ZMP claims roughly 49 percent.

Sony engineer Kohtaro Sabe and Sony sales manager Shinji Odashima will act as directors, and one slot is yet to be filled.

While Sony is pushing ahead with research into the IoT market, this does not mean the company plans to shutter its -- albeit suffering -- smartphone business. Earlier this month, Sony Mobile CEO Hiroki Totoki said smartphones are a "key" part of Sony's IoT strategy as they can serve as a hub for connected devices.

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