Described as America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Alva Edison changed the world as we know it. His experiments in the fields of electricity and communication in the late 1800’s created the framework for the modern devices we use today. On April 15, 1892, with backing from J.P. Morgan and several other businessmen and inventors, Edison co-founded Edison General Electric. Rebranded as General Electric (GE) shortly after, GE is one of the most recognized brands in the United States. Adhering to Edison’s ethos of innovations, GE has become a world leader in power services, electrical devices, environmental awareness, and land, air, and sea transportation.
In 2017, GE officially announced the formation of GE Aviation, a branch dedicated to the development of the most efficient jet engines. This foray into the world of aviation led to a natural transition in the development of drone possibilities as well. In an April 29, 2019 press release, GE showed the world just how invested they were becoming in drone technology by partnering with German drone software company Auterion. The partnership would see Auterion’s Enterprise PX4 operating system incorporated into GE’s growing range of unmanned platforms. As stated in the press release, GE and Auterion “show their commitment by signing a teaming agreement to provide a comprehensive hardware and software solution for drone manufacturers and operators seeking to enable commercial drone operations at scale.”
This collaboration would provide GE branded drones with, as explained on Auterion’s website, an “on-board drone software platform that enables your drone with the capabilities that enterprise customers demand and lets you focus on your product development without maintaining a complex development environment.” In a move to further their progression in the commercial drone market, GE recently announced a new partnership with another German based drone company, Microdrones.
Founded in 2005 through the collaboration of several other drone and aviation businesses, Microdrones develops custom commercial drones. Microdrones has a range of products tuned to fit the needs of surveying and mapping, search and rescue, science and research, mining, inspection, and agriculture. Many of the performance needs of drones in these industries overlap, yet they still require individualization. This is why Microdrones specifically outfit their drones with sensors and equipment to fit the niche needs of the end user.
Without having to change the hardware they developed, Microdrones will now have the industrial powerhouse backing of GE to further promote their product. Vice versa, GE will have access to a fully vetted drone product that fully aligns with its goals of immersion in the industrial drone industry. “The GE industrial drone line is a powerful extension and fit for the GE brand worldwide,” said GE Licensing Senior Managing Director Thomas Buccellato. “We can provide field proven inspection, surveying and geomatics technology that complements our key industrial segments. This is just the beginning of something very promising as we work with Microdrones to scale this up and offer a very powerful and trusted drone surveying solution to our industrial customers worldwide.” As GE approaches its 130th anniversary, it is clear to see that they are upholding the innovative ambitions of its founder, Thomas Alva Edison.