“The bigger the functional or economic benefits of unmanned systems are, the faster they’ll conquer market shares. It’s all about being competitive with other technologies or traditional methods.“
– Jan Schönberg, Drones Magazin
Learn more at: https://www.drones-magazin.de/
Jan Schönberg, Editor in Chief of Drones Magazin
When was your publication started and how did the idea come about?
Jan Schönberg (Drones Magazin): It has been quite a journey from the roots to the DRONES magazine we know today. As a publishing house, we have more than 20 years of experience making magazines for different types of radio-controlled models. That’s why Drones started as „rc-drones“ in 2015. During the years, name and content-related priorities changed. In the tradition of our company, the magazine has featured hobby and leisure topics in its early years. In 2019 we decided to fundamentally alter the editorial focus of Drones to the commercial use of civil drone technology. And since 2020, Drones is positioned as the magazine for the drone economy in the heart of Europe.
A few years back, the commercial drone industry was “poised to revolutionize” all kinds of industries. From your perspective, how did drones “perform” over the last years and what are your perspectives for the industry going forward?
Jan Schönberg (Drones Magazin): Drone technology is fascinating to many people and includes some great product promises. But at the end of the day, it’s not about the most glamorous but the most efficient and commercially successful technology. Unmanned systems have to find their niche, and the industry has to establish working business models. I guess there are some areas where drones have already succeeded in proving their benefits. For example, at search & rescue missions, at first responders, police and firefighters, or when planning and monitoring construction sites. There are many use cases in agriculture, mapping, inspection, or science where a quick and complete overview is helpful. And there are many use cases where only unmanned aircraft systems can provide the needed data economically. The bigger the functional or economic benefits of unmanned systems are, the faster they’ll conquer market shares. It’s all about being competitive with other technologies or traditional methods.
Where are you based, and do you notice any particular observations about the drone market in different regions?
Jan Schönberg (Drones Magazin): Our company is based in Hamburg, Germany. Since Germany is integrated into the European context, it took a while until the European bodies and the national authorities established a harmonized and working regulatory framework suitable for the industry to grow. That hasn’t been completed yet, and – to be honest – the German government didn’t perform well at specific points in recent years. From my point of view, the main issues – BVLOS operations and the integration of manned and unmanned aircraft – have not been solved properly and completely yet. But are they anywhere else?
How has your business handled the coronavirus pandemic and in which areas did you face the biggest challenges?
Jan Schönberg (Drones Magazin): Fortunately, we as a company have not been hit too hard by the pandemic. Most of the team and our families stayed healthy until now. Unlike other industries, as a publishing house with a strong digital agenda, we could work remotely without a significant lack of quality. But we all miss the direct contact with people, the events and shows. Being close to the market in general and the acting people is an essential value of our profession as journalists. And that has been quite impossible in the last years. It’s a shame.
What do you think will be the biggest challenge that drone companies will face over the next 5 years?
Jan Schönberg (Drones Magazin): There are some major tasks and challenges for the drone industry in the near future. First of all, companies need to prove sustainable business models. But there are still some uncertainties that could prevent them from doing so. Especially the question of BVLOS operations is critical for many use cases. In Germany, there are high agreement rates to the transport of medical goods such as vaccines and medicines as well as blood and tissue samples. Or to the automated providing of external defibrillators by unmanned systems. But without a comprehensive framework of rules and laws, these scenarios couldn’t come to reality on a daily basis. And last but not least, the „problem“ of a broad public acceptance for drones touching people’s everyday lives hasn’t still been solved.
Besides your home page and newsletter, is there a particular section or platform for your publication that you want to bring special awareness to?
Jan Schönberg (Drones Magazin): We provide the German-speaking Drone economy in central Europe with information on various platforms. For example, we collaborate with the experts from Drone Industry Insights regarding our newsletter Drones Monthly. Each month – always on the second Thursday – Kay Wackwitz and his great team provide us with the „Number of the Month“. It’s exciting and a great collaboration.