This Monday, Honeywell a giant in the industry of aerospace products, announced the launch of its first unmanned aerial systems business. The company had long been observing the business closely and also hinted a few times that it might step foot into the industry very soon. It has finally made its bet on the aviation business, building and supplying drones, air taxis, and unmanned cargo delivery vehicles. Since the business will be autonomous, there is a high chance that private companies will finally be able to get their hands on these air vehicles to enhance their business.
The company is expecting the air vehicles market to witness significant growth by 2030, said Stephane Fymat, who is going to be heading this new business. He added that they are estimating that the hardware as well as software markets for these air taxis, cargo deliveries, and other drone businesses will be $120 billion by 2030. They are hoping that Honeywell will have 20% of this market opportunity. Although he did not shed any light on how much of this market were they wanting for Honeywell to be holding, he went on to speak about the team and unit that they have assembled for this project. The unit has over 100 employees and many engineers as of now.
Currently, Honeywell does not manufacture drones but creates parts and systems that aid in the building of actual delivery drones like aviation electronics and other autonomous flight control systems. This new business is coming up right when we are in the middle of a pandemic which has stirred interests of most of the big businesses towards drones. Drone deliveries are about to become one of the newest forms of delivery and are going to be in demand. Fymat hinted that they are going to be speeding up the process of building these delivery drones for some of their partner businesses.
Some of the big customers of Honeywell include Pipistrel, which is a Slovenia-based small aircraft maker, UK based vertical Aerospace, and Intel backed Volocopter. While Pipistrel is working on building an aircraft suited for vertical take-offs and landings for cargo deliveries, Aerospace is enhancing a prototype that it tested last year. This prototype will be able to carry 250 kilograms and fly at a speed of 80 kilometres per hour.
On another end, Honeywell’s corporate venture capital arm has been investing in Southern California’s Airmap, which is an unmanned air traffic control system for drones and Switzerland’s Daedalean, which develops autonomous flight controls.
Murray Grainger, head of Honeywell ventures hinted that they are not looking to bet on who will have the best drones, they are trying to sell to everyone’s drones. Fymat said that his team was working on incorporating a QR code-based landing into their drones. They are also working on helping the drone navigate in places where GPS may fail.