Drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have gained popularity among hobbyists, but they have been used for other applications for many years. In addition to surveillance and defense applications, drones are now being used for consumer and business applications ranging from photography to delivery, from surveying to security monitoring, from facilities monitoring to precision agriculture.
As drones integrate better cameras and sensors and utilizing ‘smarter’ control systems, including AI-enabled flight decisions and object classification, the uses will continue to rise. Will it become common to see drones in our skies delivering packages, providing security, supporting aid efforts, and more? Come find out the present state and future of drones, and how you can get engaged in this technology capability.
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Craig Nehrkorn was an early member of DJI North America working in support of Colin Guinn, DJI China and their cooperative launch of the world’s first ready-to-fly (RTF) hobby grade drone, the Phantom 1. This led to an adventurous and educational string of experiences in product development, legal, regulatory, sales, marketing, and financial fronts, as everything accomplished in the consumer UAV industry at the time was a first.
DJI’s consumer UAV product lines were developed and marketed in large part by the original DJI North American team, based here in Austin, Texas, and these products became the baseline upon which nearly all subsequent consumer UAV models across the industry were molded after and compared. DJI has continued to innovate and has since become an $18 billion business, per the Wall Street Journal.
As the legal and regulatory UAV environment in the United States matured, the industry began to pivot from the consumer to enterprise and government markets. Craig’s relationships evolved into enterprise partnerships with both DJI and 3D Robotics under the company name Drone Dynamics.
Prior to DJI North America, Craig spent a few years working for Microsoft supporting their North American network of Value Added Resellers, as well as an early member of two other VC funded start-up technology companies out of the Austin Technology Incubator, eVapt and Agile Planet, serving in a business development capacity both times.
Craig studied Geographic Information Systems (GIS), Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin.
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