Apple is ramping up its corporate drone program. Last week, Bloomberg reported that Apple poached drone talent from Amazon Prime Air project to head up its own Seattle-based drone team. If recent actions are any indication, the battle for top drone and UAV jobs is fast approaching.
In 2015, Apple petitioned the FAA to use 11 drone models across a range of manufacturers, including Apple retail partner DJI, as well as Aibotix, AscTec, Sensefly, Lehmann Aviation and C-Astral. The tech giant aims to vastly improve its Maps app with aerial photography, video and data collection. Apple has suffered public embarrassment in its ongoing struggle to compete with Google Maps among iOS users. Apple hopes drones will provide the edge it needs to oust Google as the leading map app, says Bloomberg sources.
For Google, news of Apple’s private drone program will likely come as no surprise. Google has been investing heavily in its own corporate programs for years. In 2012, Google launched Project Wing, which includes drone-powered parcel delivery to rival Amazon’s Prime Air. Two years later, Google acquired high-altitude drone manufacturer Titan Aerospace, with real-time aerial imagery among its capabilities.
The drone arena is becoming a cutthroat battleground for competition, as Apple, Google, Facebook, and Amazon continue to demonstrate. Of course, the drone industry has known this was coming. The Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) expects ~100,000 new UAV jobs will be created, with the commercial drone industry expected to generate $80 billion in economic impact by 2025. Still, financial analysts are passing these predictions off as too modest. According to Forbes, drone startups raised ~$1 billion in venture capital in 2015 alone. The demand for drone and flight experts, and drone-based businesses, is set to skyrocket in the short years ahead.
For career-minded drone enthusiasts and drone pilots, this is great news! Even employers, such as Amazon, who hope to fully automate drone flights in the future, want flight engineers who have several years of experience flying drones. Buckle up, drone enthusiasts, our little world just got a lot bigger. And the airways, a lot more crowded.