Sony is launching drone services for businesses. Is it cool?After the robot dog AIBO and the cute, humanoid bot QRIO, Sony's next robotic adventure will take to the skies. In a departure from its consumer electronics focus, Sony has decided to dip its toes into the drone market. The company has formed a partnership with fellow Japanese firm ZMP to begin launching Sony-branded autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles.
Called Aerosense, the venture will involve aerial image capture and cloud-based data processing in the interest of what Sony calls "measuring, surveying, observing, and inspecting" for enterprise customers. Using Sony robotics, camera and sensing technology and its telecommunications network, along with ZMP's automated driving technology, the autonomous drones will extend Sony's reach into the rapidly expanding field of drone-assisted data collection. Companies such as Vine Rangers and AeroHarvest, both of which use drones to help farmers monitor and assess the health of their crops, show the benefits of drones beyond warfare and aerial photography. Set to launch in August, the joint venture (Sony owns a little over 50% and ZMP a little over 49%) will use VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) drones. But regular consumers won't be able to get their hands on them; according a report in the Wall Street Journal, none of those devices will be offered for sale to the public.