These days, it seems like you can’t go anywhere without noticing a drone flying overhead – especially at the beaches of San Diego. The lightweight, semi-autonomous aircrafts’ popularity continues to grow exponentially, with interest from consumers, government agencies and commercial developers.
Dan Bosch, (MBA ‘15), is taking drones from hobbyist toys to commercial aircraft. During his time as a student at the Rady School, he developed an interest in Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). His interests in using drones extended beyond capturing epic sunset beach photos; he was captivated by the abilities drones have to gather data, provide insights into difficult-to-access locations and assist with emergency response situations."I’ve worked in the aerospace industry for 20 years – I started in the Navy, then went to college for mechanical engineering and I really enjoy working on aerospace-related products," Bosch said. "Drones are the ‘next big thing’ in aerospace. They are linked to other interesting products in the robotics-world – such as self-driving cars and autonomous type devices – and it excited me to be a part of that."
While at the Rady School, Bosch and fellow classmate Neil Puri (MFin ‘15) decided to focus their Lab to Market idea on the surging demand for drones and their capabilities. While drones are a popular gadget for techies and photographers, Bosch strongly believes in their abilities to help in a range of industries; such as improving crop yields in agriculture, keeping law enforcement and civilians safer during first responder situations and determining high-demand areas during disaster relief.
"I like working with the latest technology – I wanted to do something that I could come into work every day and have fun and be excited," he said. "Plus, I want to make the world a better place."
Bosch’s drones are focused on helping with agriculture, construction, security, search and rescue, and emergency response. His company, SICdrone, is currently working on developing high-speed "tiltrotor" drones that fly faster and further than anything currently on the market.
"Our drones are twice as fast and fly three times as far compared to other drones," Bosch said. "Also, we’re developing our drone to be very fast and to have ability to hover, even in high winds."
The ability to hover means more accurate photos of crops for farmers, or more accurate assessments of disasters for emergency responders.
Bosch worked at Boeing and United Technologies before joining the Rady School to obtain the knowledge and education he needed to start a business.
"A few months after I started classes, I became fascinated with 3D printing, and also interested in designing a drone," Bosch said. "Eventually I decided to focus on drones. I came up with a design and started SICdrone last year."
Entrepreneurial marketing and product development classes were among Bosch’s favorites during his time as a student at the Rady School, because he believed they were extremely helpful for developing his company.
"I knew I wanted to transition into a drone-focused company after graduation, and taking these classes definitely helped my vision translate into something real," Bosch said.
When Bosch and his team embarked on a mission to improve drone design, their focus was broad – the team wanted to create high quality drones worthy of meeting the FAA approval guidelines for commercial aircraft. The Lab to Market core sequence provided guidance and direction for the company.
"Lab to Market definitely helped me hone and narrow down what we needed to focus on as a business," Bosch said. "We made a lot of design changes while we were in Lab to Market."
Forward, and fast
SICdrone’s technological advances and capabilities set it apart from the rest of the pack. Bosch was recently accepted into the Jaguar Land Rover Tech Incubator in Portland, Oregon after competing against more than 100 applicants for the prestigious spot.
Right now, Bosch is focused on developing SICdrone’s software and testing how it can fly. He’s developed different drone sizes – 3ft, 6ft and 8ft in diameter – and is analyzing how the drones operate, according to size, weight and other factors.
Bosch and his team are conducting flight tests each week – both indoor and outdoor – and are working on improving the product.
The team is getting off the ground, with the help of the Jaguar Land Rover Tech Incubator and interest from potential customers. The future looks bright for SICdrone.