PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Drones have become an increasingly normal part of daily life, but that may not be a bad thing. Here’s why.

Paul Huish and his company DroneHive are here to change the way we think about autonomous drones. DroneHive is a “leading drone service provider for aerial data collection” that specializes in connecting businesses with licensed drone pilots employed by the company. It is based in Park City, UT.

Huish says that “drones are for good,” and far from the kind of end-times, Skynet harbinger of the robot apocalypse that many feel they represent. “Drones are here to stay and are being embraced at a huge scale across all industries,” says Huish. 

Huish comes from a family of “Utah entrepreneurs” and has experience working in other industries as highly regulated as that of drones. 

DroneHive provides drone service to a wide swath of companies in an even wider range of industries. These include green energy, cell tower infrastructure, construction sites, civil engineering projects, agriculture, and more. “If you can capture it with a drone, we are trying to get into that business” says Huish. DroneHive primarily specializes in data collection through three different types of imaging: RBG or traditional video, thermal and infrared imaging, and multispectral imaging. 

Huish comments that DroneHive also helps its employee pilots in ways other companies might not. This help includes assistance with licensing, in-field troubleshooting, and equipment supply for employees. “We are creating a lot of really good tech jobs that don’t require a four-year degree,” says Huish. 

Recently, DroneHive has engaged in projects that use drones and machine learning software to allow for quick inspection of cell towers to assess the state of their equipment and functionality. This means that no one needs to climb these towers and put themselves at risk of falling or other injury. According to Huish, DroneHive has serviced hundreds of cell towers in Utah, and thousands in the entire U.S. 

Huish is especially proud of DroneHive’s philanthropic work which has assisted in projects designed to foster environmental sustainability. For example, DroneHive has used drones to assess the density of fuel in forests to assess wildfire risk. 

While they have only entered commercial and personal spaces in recent years, drones (often referred to as UAVs or Unarmed Aerial Vehicles) have been around longer than you might expect.  

Kashyap Vyas, an industry expert reporting for Interesting Engineering, provides a sweeping article on the history of drones. According to Vyas, the FAA reported 1.1 million drones registered in the U.S. in 2019. Vyas acknowledges that while UAVs have military roots, they are now used for a “wide range of functions, including monitoring climate change, delivering goods, aiding in search and rescue operations, and in filming and photography.” 

According to Vyas’ article, the earliest use of something akin to a drone as we know it today took place in 1849 in a military attack by Austria on the city of Venice, which used “unmanned balloons stuffed with explosives” designed to drop bombs on the city from afar.  

Later, the first iteration of a quadcoptor device was attempted in 1907. While this quadcopter only flew less than a meter high, it informed the most popular drone design in use in commercial and consumer purposes today, according to Vyas. 

Subsequently, Vyas writes that modern aviation technology combined with 20th century war innovation led to most developments in UAVs, and they have since become a large part of many modern militaries and police forces. Commercial and consumer drones were also developed in part because of the success of radio control (RC) miniature planes, which were widely successful in the second half of the 20th century according to Vyas’ article. 

Regardless of the origins of drone technology, the prospect of autonomous flying equipment has long fascinated innovators and only now is being implemented at a large scale in commerce and industry. DroneHive is showing how Utah is immersing itself in this new business frontier.