The Shifting Landscape of Industrial Drone Technology
Kespry CEO George Mathew on Drone Innovation and Emergency Response
At this year’s CEO Summit, we’ve had a range of speakers from our portfolio on stage. From vertical farming to alternative lending and now to drones, our third portfolio “powerchat” of the morning came from Kespry CEO George Mathew who spoke with Financial Times reporter Leslie Hook about industrial drone technology.
Here are a few excerpts from the conversation.
Most people are familiar with consumer drones but Kespry is working in the industrial drone space. Can you tell us a little about your drones and what they do?
Kespry has been focused on the industrial drones space. We manufacture drones that are specified for key industrial work in construction, mining/aggregates, insurance/roofing and energy. We see these industrial sectors as the key opportunities for disproportionate growth. In the industrial markets Kespry serves, it’s not just about the drone itself, it’s about the analytical pipelines, the applications and the APIs that are exposed from the data that’s collected by our drones. In that regard, we deliver a full subscription-based offering for our customers that includes the drone, the data analytics and the applications that support claims management in the insurance sector, and better inventory and site management in the construction and aggregates sectors.
So speaking of claims management, while we’re sitting here there is a major catastrophe underway in Houston with record flooding. In a situation like Hurricane Harvey, how does Kespry get involved? Where do you fit in with this?
It’s been a busy week and it’s going to be quite a busy few weeks coming up for Kespry. Specifically, as it relates to Hurricane Harvey in Houston and Corpus Christi, we are working with some of the major property and casualty carriers as well as the independent adjusters working on the catastrophic response and recovery activities. We’re still in the rescue phase; later this week we go into the recovery phase and there will be a lot of work to do specifically related to flood and wind damage. Kespry has been selected by Farmers Insurance and other key players in the market to help adjudicate claims from policyholders as fast as possible.
What’s differentiated about us in that regard is that the insurance adjusters themselves can actually operate the Kespry drones. You don’t need a separate pilot because we have an autonomous solution that enables a claim adjuster to do the work that’s needed to process these claims more effectively.
So you guys are readying a fleet of drones to fly into Houston and Corpus Christi as soon as the helicopters are out of the way?
That’s correct. This past week the training took place in Kansas City and the catastrophic response teams as well as Kespry drones are landing on the ground later this week and next week.
Can these drones fly themselves? Everyone’s been very focused on self-driving cars. What about self-flying drones?
This was one of the areas as a company that we have innovated on since our founding in 2013. We first and foremost built an autonomous drone where the operator can fly directly from an iPad. There is no joystick. You select the start button on the iPad and the drone takes off and does the work to collect the required information. That’s a very different experience than manually flying a drone. It really enables the person on the ground — a construction worker, a miner, an insurance adjuster — to have the drone that works their behalf.
You met the President. What was that like?
The background is that we went for a meeting during Jobs Month to cover American Leadership in Emerging Technology. CEOs from the drone space, 5G space and IoT space came to the White House to cover regulatory policies and the ‘Future of Industrial Work’. We had an opportunity to help define and reinforce Part 107 regulation and to spend time with the President and the rest of the administration. A fun fact is that the Kespry drone was the first drone inside the White House. So the drone literally spent the night at the White House the night before the meeting, so the Secret Service could clear it. In all seriousness, the moment we had with him [President Trump] and the administration was focused on drone innovation and regulation. They understood that technology like ours is where to invest into the broader economy and the Future of Industrial Work.