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Sony creates drone company to find more customers for its image sensors

Sony/ZMP

Sony is getting into the drone business — but not for the reasons you might think. The company's mobile division is teaming up with Japanese robotics firm ZMP to found Aerosense: a new venture that will offer drone-based surveying and inspection services to businesses from 2016 onwards. According to a press release, ZMP will bring its "automated driving and robotics technologies" to the project while Sony will offer its imaging and telecommunications expertise. "We’re looking to explore new opportunities beyond our core consumer portfolio in enterprise markets," Hiroki Totoki, the head of Sony's smartphone division, told The Wall Street Journal. "The key to driving growth in these areas will be adapting Sony’s innovation in various technologies."

Sony's image sensors have succeeded in industries where sony's devices have failed

Essentially, this means leveraging Sony's successful image sensors. This profitable division of the company supplies components to a wide range of industries including, notably, the smartphone market, where Sony's own devices have failed, but its sensors are used by rivals including Apple and Samsung. Starting a drone subsidiary to demonstrate new uses for its imaging tech makes more sense for Sony than trying to compete directly with well-established industry giants like Lockheed Martin or DJI. Tech giants like Google and Amazon are also involved in the market, and have been pouring money and expertise into various fields from package delivery to internet access. Sony might not be able to compete directly with these companies, but if the industry takes off as analysts have predicted, all those aircrafts will need components to see with, and that's where the Japanese company might have an edge.

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