Inside Unmanned Systems provides actionable business intelligence to decision-makers and influencers operating within the global UAS community. Features include analysis of key technologies, policy/regulatory developments and new product design.
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62 unmanned systems inside April/May 2017 AIR NEW APPLICATIONS Photos courtesy of DroneCast and Expert Drones A spiring entrepreneurs are offering drone-enabled promotions using techniques ranging from f lourishing custom banner ads to delivering product mod- els at meetings and even mixing drinks. DroneCast in Philadelphia bills itself as the world's first drone-based advertising compa- ny. It started with signs hung under drones, eventually expanding to more bold forms of advertisement for Fortune 500 clients such as Ford and Sony. The company's CEO and founder Raj Singh came up with advertising drones as a fresh- man at Drexel University. "I was watching the 60 Minutes segment on Amazon's plans for delivery drones, and I was thinking about what the next steps for Amazon would be after successfully doing drone delivery," Singh said. "As we've seen with multiple companies, the easiest way to monetize is through ads, so we looked at that." DroneCast's first attempts at aerial adver- tising using off-the-shelf banners and off- the-shelf drones "didn't work so well," Singh Firms are using a new type of airborne messenger to generate buzz about their products. Drones are brandishing banner ads, delivering logo-stamped tchotchkes and even showing off their drink-mixing skills to capture the attention of the pitch-jaded public. by Charles Q. Choi ADVERTISING DRONES DELIVER DroneCast uses multi-rotor drones to loft large banners. recalled. For instance, the banners could act like sails and interfere with f light. The firm then experimented with creating its own banner material. "I remember walk- ing through Walmart trying to find out what might work," Singh said. "We went through ev- erything, from garbage bags to T-shirts." DroneCast's proprietary banner material, developed after partnering with a printing company, "is a combination of a plastic and a vinyl, and has a mesh-like structure," Singh said. "It can keep rigid, but also let's air f low past it and does not necessarily act like a sail. It also has a weighted bottom to keep it from f lapping. We can f ly banners as large as 12 feet tall and 3 feet wide." The Hardware The company also developed its own propri- etary DroneCast SR1 drone, a quad-rotor with a carbon-fiber body, aluminum arms, carbon- fiber propellers and a 1-meter wingspan. It has a carrying capacity of 6 pounds and can sustain 60 minutes of f light time in ideal wind conditions. "Say you need a drone to f ly for four hours at South by Southwest," Singh said. "We can bring the drone down, swap out batteries, and have it back up in five minutes." The DroneCast SR1 drone can also f ly up to 60 mph. "You don't need the drone to f ly that