For Andy Putch, drones aren't just fun. They're vehicles that will redefine how American companies do business.
The 22-year-old is CEO of FreeSkies, a start-up that creates software applications for drones. The FreeSkies app, which launches in October, allows operators to program a flight route. The drone, flying on autopilot, then captures high-resolution photos, videos and data.
Putch thinks the technology will transform whole industries, from agriculture to oil and gas.
"You can automate the entire process," Putch said. "You can have a drone, program a set route, and go and collect data in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost."
There are a number of companies now building around the drone ecosystem. Among them are Airware, which develops software, hardware and cloud services; Skydio, which builds drone navigation systems using onboard sensors; and Percepto, which is a computer vision platform designed specifically for drones. (Percepto counts Richard Parsons and Mark Cuban among its investors).
Eric Cheng of drone maker DJI said the enthusiasm surrounding the technology isn't just about the consumer market, but also the real opportunities for businesses. His company has embarked on its first effort in the commercial space, a drone called the M100.