Industry 4.0 and Drones

July 27, 2015 by Jennifer A. Diffley

Sony's joint venture with ZMP into the foray of industrial drones foreshadows their use in Industry 4.0.

SONY and ZMP are developing drones for businesses-- what's next?

Last week, Sony and ZMP announced a partnership to develop and provide drones for businesses, presumably for enterprises like NearMap and other businesses that would benefit from accurate, high-resolution aerial imaging. 

“We’re looking to explore new opportunities beyond our core consumer portfolio in enterprise markets”--Hiroki Totoki, President and CEO of Sony Mobile

The partnership, called Aerosense, will be able to offer services like inspecting aging buildings or surveying difficult-to-access lands. They would presumably also be able to offer security services such as constant overhead monitoring of factories. 

One possible scenario that hasn't been explored is their incorporation into assembly and manufacturing processes. At the moment, designers are focusing primarily on utilizing drones for camera purposes, like expensive flying GoPros. But incorporating heftier drones into Industry 4.0 would allow them to carry pieces of equipment across large factories or even transport finished products directly to other businesses. This is something Amazon's well-publicized drone program endeavors to do, but using drones for business is much more feasible than the practicalities of delivering a copy of Twilight to someone living in a neighborhood that considers drones target practice.

Implementing drones into a business model is smart and could potentially reduce work injuries while increasing bottom line. The key would be encouraging designers to develop drones capable of carrying large loads quickly, utilizing cloud-based communication systems, and perfecting the new addition in current processes to optimize efficiency.