In a recent joint webinar with Frost & Sullivan, we found that 85% of organizations surveyed had already implemented or were considering implementing autonomous technology in light of today’s situation.
We recently ran a webinar that brought together Mike Blades, Vice President Aerospace, Defense, & Security at Frost & Sullivan and Ariel Avitan, our own Co-Founder and CCO. What we learned was both validating and encouraging.
Titled “Helping Industrial Sites Mitigate Covid-19 Impact,” the webinar drew well over 200 participants for the live session, from across the globe. These decision-makers came from a wide variety of industries – especially oil and gas, utilities, and mining – and joined us to hear a unique perspective on how the Covid-19 pandemic has changed attitudes to and implementations of autonomous drone technology. Participants also showed up to hear Mike Blades share why Frost & Sullivan recently recognized Percepto with a Best Practices Award, and get his unique take on the autonomous drone market and autonomous technology in light of the Coronavirus crisis.
One of the highlights of the webinar was the second poll we conducted, which revealed that a staggering 85% of participants who responded had either already adopted autonomous technology or were “looking into it.”
These numbers are very much in-line with what we’ve all likely seen recently. Looking around as shelter-in-place and work-from-home became the norm, everyone has begun to see a different attitude to autonomous drone deliveries, for example. The same thing with ground-based deliveries for groceries, where companies like Nuro began running trials. We’re also seeing more and more logistics automation, with Amazon leading the way to widespread rollouts. And there’s even autonomous waste management technology that could protect garbage collectors from exposure to potentially infectious waste.
Industry Attitudes Towards Autonomous Technology are Changing, Too
Yet what struck me most during this webinar – and what we’ve been seeing over the course of recent months – are the changing attitudes of heavy industrial sites towards autonomous technology. Our clients and prospects – from manufacturing and energy to critical infrastructure, and everything in-between – have been actively rolling out new autonomous solutions, or looking to do so shortly, while those already utilizing autonomous technology are seeking to expand usage of existing solutions to maintain business continuity when personnel have been unable to get to work on site.
It’s exactly as Frost & Sullivan put it: “…following the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are rethinking their business continuity strategies and response to emergencies, with autonomous solutions emerging as a new best practice.”
Autonomous drones are now viewed as strategic assets – part of enterprise business continuity planning. This is why, for example, a number of our large industrial clients that were forced to suspend operations owing to the pandemic stepped up their usage of autonomous drones – maintaining a high level of facility security with far less manpower. It’s also why a large wholesale chain began using their Percepto drones to more tightly secure stockpiled inventory in the face of surging demand and amid concerns about civil unrest.
Business continuity of course goes beyond COVID-19. For example, in preparation for the upcoming hurricane season in the U.S., Florida Power & Light chose us to help more effectively and more efficiently monitor their power production infrastructure.
In light of the current pandemic, regulatory attitudes are changing, too. Mike Blades weighed in on this in the webinar, noting that regulators are already warming to the idea of more autonomous drones in their airspace, resulting in a more streamlined “process for obtaining BVLOS waivers…especially in light of Covid-19.” More on this in our recent long-format blog post entitled In the Shadow of the Pandemic, the Path to BVLoS Approval Takes on New Importance.
The Bottom Line
The webinar concluded that autonomous technology was well on its way to the mainstream before the Coronavirus crisis. What’s more – as Avitan and Blades explained and our survey confirmed – Covid-19 has only accelerated this ongoing process.