Sony takes to drone idea despite crash controversy

A white drone in flight in front of a blurred background

Sony has announced it plans to launch a company that will use drones to capture images and data that can be analysed and sold to companies for the purposes of surveying or inspecting

It could be used to map an area, plan out the route for a new transport system or inspect a building site, for example.

The drones themselves will integrate Sony's imaging technology integrated into its range of smartphones as well as Samsung and Apple-branded mobile devices.

The new company will be called Aerosense and Sony will partner up with a fellow Japanese firm, ZMP, to jointly develop the technology required. However, the newly-formed company would not sell the drones themselves, preferring to realise the service value of the unmanned flying aircraft instead.

Hiroki Totoki, head of Sony Mobile, told the Wall Street Journal: "We're looking to explore new opportunities beyond our core consumer portfolio in enterprise markets.

"The key to driving growth in these areas will be adapting Sony's innovation in various technologies," including cameras and sensors, he said.

The news comes following the announcement that the UK's Civil Aviation Authority will investigate into a Lufthansa flight that came within 100 meters of colliding with a drone on its descent to Warsaw airport.

The incident, reported by enthusiast publication the Aviation Herald, occurred on 20 July and involved flight LH-1614 from Munich to Warsaw.

During their approach, the flight crew reported they had almost hit a drone on the way in to land, telling Warsaw Air Traffic Control (ATC) "[you] should take care of your airspace".

The crew told ATC "it is really dangerous", prompting the flight to be diverted to an alternative runway, where it landed safely about 3 minutes later.

Police forces, including a helicopter, were dispatched to find the operator, locating a 39-year-old resident of a nearby village under the runway's approach vector.

The man has admitted to flying his drone in the area, and may receive a prison sentence of up to 8 years on charges of endangering aviation safety.

A spokesman for the airport, Przemyslaw Przybylski, told the Associated Press that although there is a ban on drone use for 20km surrounding the airport, it is hard to make sure "some idiot does not suddenly decide to fly a drone in front of a landing plane".

This incident marks the second time in recent weeks that drones have been a public hazard, with overzealous drone pilots preventing fire crews from tackling a blaze just outside Los Angeles.

The problem is becoming more pronounced, progressing to the point where US government departments are beginning to issue promotional materials warning drone pilots of the safety dangers caused by grounded emergency vehicles.

This article was originally published on 22nd July 2015 but has since been updated to reflect developments in the story.

Adam Shepherd

Adam Shepherd has been a technology journalist since 2015, covering everything from cloud storage and security, to smartphones and servers. Over the course of his career, he’s seen the spread of 5G, the growing ubiquity of wireless devices, and the start of the connected revolution. He’s also been to more trade shows and technology conferences than he cares to count.

Adam is an avid follower of the latest hardware innovations, and he is never happier than when tinkering with complex network configurations, or exploring a new Linux distro. He was also previously a co-host on the ITPro Podcast, where he was often found ranting about his love of strange gadgets, his disdain for Windows Mobile, and everything in between.

You can find Adam tweeting about enterprise technology (or more often bad jokes) @AdamShepherUK.