Drones Markets

Tethered Drone Wins $1 Million Prize

Are you looking for a new business idea for the drone industry? There’s a list at the bottom of this post that should get your creative juices flowing, but first we need to highlight the contest winner.

Fotokite, a Switzerland-based company that developed a kite-like, tethered drone that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, won the $1 million grand prize in the GENIUS NY (a year-long business accelerator) business competition Monday. This is my kind of contest.

Fotokite’s drones can fly a few hundred feet in the air attached to a retractable cord, then fly fully autonomously and beam live video to operators on the ground. Most drones can fly for less than 30 minutes on battery power, but Fotokite says its drones can fly 24/7 when connected through the tether to a power source.

Company CEO Christopher McCall said the company is focusing its sales efforts on fire departments and law enforcement agencies, but also sees a market among broadcasters and sports teams. Tethered drones can provide impressive situational awareness.

“It flies all by itself, without the need for an operator, without the need for GPS,” he said.

Fotokite was one of six finalists in Genius NY, a state-funded competition for start-up companies focused on the growing unmanned aerial systems industry.

The contest is administered by the Syracuse Technology Garden and CenterState CEO. It is based at the Tech Garden, a business incubator run by CenterState on Harrison Street in Syracuse.

Here are another five finalists who received smaller, but still impressive cash prizes:

Quantifly, of Detroit, Mich., received $600,000. It uses advanced image processing technology to analyze and quantify traffic and parking studies.

TruWeather, of Virginia, received $400,000. It is building a service to improve the accuracy and communication of weather intelligence.

Dropcopter, of Corning, Calif., received $250,000. It has developed technology that allows farmers to pollinate orchards using drones.

Precision Vision, of Edgewood, N.M., received $250,000. It creates image processing technology that makes real-time precision imaging affordable.

UsPLM, of Syracuse, received $250,000. It develops integrated, scalable drone fleet management software for unmanned aerial systems operations.

That is a powerful way to generate interest in a technology.


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