Drone Company Soars in Region Known as the Birthplace of Flight

Ohio Drone transforms a variety of industries with efficient, aerial tech

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no, it’s a drone! More likely than not, if something catches your eye, it’s not Superman you’re seeing in the skies, but one of Cincinnati-based Ohio Drone’s unmanned aerial vehicles. Though the idea of the technology is surrounded by safety and security concerns ranging from the fear of prying eyes to noise nuisance, these drones are far from your neighbor’s toy. In fact, Ohio Drone seeks to disrupt the way a number of industries do business by custom-producing both the hardware and software for their products.

“We’re an end-to-end drone company,” said CEO Robert Charvat. “What that means is we are a general engineering firm that offers drones as a solution to anyone. Often, for our customers, that starts at an idea stage. They have a new technology, or a new problem and we develop a prototype, manage their operations, and eventually conduct deployment and training with their customers and our operational teams.”

So, what’s the bird’s eye view used for? Ohio Drone offers a range of services including aerial photography for residences, commercial buildings, special events and art prints. Each drone can be customized to a particular need. For example, the photographs can be used in real estate, roof inspections or to tell the story of a store’s grand opening. The drones also have specialized uses in 21st century aerial robotics to improve safety and efficiency in a variety of industries while gathering and interpreting data.

“One of our favorite customers is our local law enforcement and fire department. They spend a lot of time putting themselves in harm’s way using technology from the 70s or 80s. We can come in with drones and use thermal cameras to look through walls, find fires or people, or deploy them to perform automatic search patterns without the added expense and annoyance of a helicopter.”

The high-flying technology specializes in what Charvat calls this the “three Ds:” the dirty, dangerous or dull technologies. This includes building drones to cover large facilities and collect high-resolution images to ensure compliance with local rules and regulations. Ohio Drone also uses their aerial equipment to get close to their subjects, performing crack checks on historic buildings from 20 feet away.

“We can take those helicopter rental costs of $5,000 to $6,000 an hour and bring them down to two or $300 an hour and provide better imagery,” said Charvat. “We always tell people when we crash a drone, we grab a bucket and we go grab another drone. When you crash a helicopter, you’ve got a much more complex situation going on.”

While working at the HCDC Business Center, a partner of the Ohio Third Frontier in Cincinnati, Charvat and co-founder James Hillegas are filling the gap between large companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin who develop this expensive tech and making it available to smaller companies.

“For us, it was pretty easy to open the doors and provide smaller companies with technology to completely change how their industry operates,” said Charvat. “And Ohio is the perfect place to do it — it’s the birthplace of flight. You can’t recreate the environment we have between Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the universities, NASA Glenn and military applications. The community we have here is something that you don’t see anywhere else in the world when it comes to innovation and the aerospace market.”

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