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Drones that the customer wants

Anyone can build a drone but Sky-Watch also tells you what to buy and what to do with it

Image: Morten Andersen

There’s a sense of Wild West in the drone industry. It is still a quite young and extremely diversified business with lots and lots of suppliers of just about everything from batteries to cameras and complete systems and that is exactly were the Danish company Sky-watch fits in. CEO Martin Schousboe explains: 

- Anyone can build a drone and sometimes I get the feeling that they actually do but the hard part is to identify what your customer need and how you are going to provide him with that and at Sky-Watch we excel in exactly that. 

In order to do so the Jutland based company possesses expertise in all fields of drones. Software development, aerodynamics, sensor fusion and you have it; Sky-Watch are employing experts in every field of drone technology and according to Mr. Schousboe not many suppliers are able to do that: 

- On a global scale I estimate we have less than ten competitors and except for one they are all owned by the world’s premiere defense and space companies so at Sky-Watch we are up against the big boys but that just makes us even more motivated.   

The stone age

Sky-Watch originates from the local university and was founded in 2009 which the CEO titles the “stone age of commercial drones”: Only a few and small manufactures that made everything themselves since sub suppliers were non-existent. In the beginning Sky-Watch made drones for civilian use like crop surveillance, fire-fighting or high altitude inspection of e.g. power grids but in 2018 the company made a strategic turnaround to focus only on drones for defense and security in order to grow the business. But one thing stays the same: 

- In 2009 our customers bought a drone for the first time and ten years after it is just about the same situation and that creates some unfulfilled expectations. Suits or uniforms; our customers still have requirements that simply is outside the scope of present technology, the Sky-Watch CEO says.    

A roadmap to drone use

Customers of Sky-Watch are not only acquiring a drone but are buying into a road map to drone usage. It is not unusual that they have only vague ideas of what they are looking for and that’s when the dialogue begins according to Martin Schousboe: 

- It’s fair to say that we interpret and processes the customers wishes and needs, turning them into concrete capabilities and in the end a complete drone system. We make plans for training and education and follow the customer all the way to the day that he operates the drones on his own. Depending on the complexity of the system it is a 12 to 24 month time frame but it is the only way we can make sure that the customer gets exactly what he wants and is paying for. 

The CEO of Sky-Watch underlines that this business model fits the defense and security market perfect since these customers usually looks for solutions and not just products and that they are willing to pay a premium for that service.

Integration and BMS

Sky watch is preparing to integrate the drone systems in the STANAG C4 standards and hence in the battle management systems of the western alliance. The company has partnered up with Lockheed Martin in a joint development program for that purpose. On a longer timeframe Martin Schousboe is expecting the Sky-Watch drone systems to become ever easier to operate in the end turning them into complete autonomous systems. New and more advanced sensor capabilities will be added continuously, and the processing and exchange of data will become even more important.

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