Until now, Reign Maker has been a little secretive on the projects we have been involved in. So in 2018, we felt it was time to show some of the projects we have been involved in. Beyond the projects, we buried ourself in R&D during the past year, as this industry demands. Most of the work was solving custom hardware solutions and understanding how to work around current software and technology limitations. We put this effort in as unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are here to stay, expand, and advance, especially within the industrial sector.
Some industries are more technologically adventurous than others, such as the telecommunications industry, and we are seeing robust usage in telecom for inspection purposes. Other industries such as civil engineering will be slower to adopt as many projects are government/publicly funded and not driven by private industry. However, all will adopt this technology eventually as the biggest hurdle is simply getting over the comfort zone by relying on traditional methods. The cliche phrase at this point is that UAS are faster, safer and more cost effective compared to many traditional methods of gathering data and information. Simply, it’s a winning trifecta that is hard to argue against.
In 2015, I attended a utility meeting held at Burns and McDonnell in Kansas City. There were about 70 public and private entities there and most representing utility firms. Burns and McDonnell were already using UAS for utility inspections as a few others, and Duke Energy was starting a UAS program. There I witnessed the utility industry embracing the technology. Utilities have additional data security concerns, as it is critical infrastructure, so we started becoming more aware of tightened data security, more secure data transfers and storage. Some of the data security concern, I personally believe, is warranted and some may have a touch of nationalistic bias. In any case, we will err on the safe side.
As our firm is out of New York City, the most difficult city to fly in the United States, we had additional challenges. Three Class B airports, the Presidential home, the usual security NYC security concerns, a dubious NYC law forbidding drone use, and a whole lot of pedestrians and vehicles to work around. We managed to figure out how to work with all of it, legally and safely.
So in 2017, Reign Maker was the first firm to use UAS to collect data on a NYC Bridge for the New York Department of Transportation project with Dewberry (dewberry.com), a national engineering firm with robust geospatial engineering and mapping expertise. Together with Dewberry, Reign Maker will be expanding UAS usage further into the transportation engineering industry and specifically in data collection, inspection and asset management.
We worked with New York Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) under a Hazen and Sawyer and AECOM contract and this year we start work under four additional DEP contracts under Hazen (2), AECOM and Arcadis.
In 2017, Reign Maker teamed up with one of the smartest UAS developers in the US, to work with utility firms to develop custom UAS solutions. This start-up firm is Easy Aerial (easyaerial.com). We began working on a fully automated UAS to do tower inspections and we hope to release the device soon.
In 2017, we flew multiple facades in NYC to capture imagery for visual inspection needs as well as created 3D models of those structures. We also flew cell towers, reservoirs, waterways, highways, overpasses and we have the capability to do more.
We have no doubt that 2018 will be a year of further exploration and industry advancement. We look forward to all of it.