We don't have the iconic garage similar to the Hewlett Packard story, but in many ways our beginning mirrors that of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and countless other entrepreneurs. Like many businesses, it started with a dream, with a vision, and the guts to make a go of it. And that's just what we did in 1998, when Christine and Zenon Dragan launched Draganfly Innovations Inc.
From the very beginning, innovation was the driving force; and it's innovation that continues to drive the products, services, and support at Draganfly Innovations today. Zenon Dragan says, "I like to create things that haven't been done before", and that couldn't be more true with their first introduction of the radio controlled (RC) blimp, and most notably, the 1999 development of the RC quad rotor helicopter called the Draganflyer.
The new little helicopter was kind of hard to fly, but the unique design and price point captured the imagination of thousands. The design philosophy of "keep it simple" and providing premiere customer support set the foundation for the core culture that drives everyone at Draganfly Innovations today. With the instant success of the Draganflyer came a series of successive designs to improve flight characteristics, ease of operation, and improve video down-link performance.
It's really all about the customer. Often the design team will start with an idea for an interesting application or a business problem to be solved, and they develop a really clever payload, vehicle, or aircraft system. But in the background throughout the design process they are thinking of the target market and how they will use the new product. After extensive bench and field-testing the product is announced. And that's when the real fun begins — because it's the customers who really make our products what they are.
With the announcement of a new product, Draganfly plants the seed of imagination; and from there the phone starts ringing, and the e-mails start coming in with customer applications and amazing ideas of how the products can be used. It's this interaction with our customers that drives us, makes us better and leads to new and more creative solutions down the road.
The success of Draganfly Innovations Inc. has strengthened our entrepreneurial spirit, which leads to more innovative, creative solutions and very honestly, we don't see that slowing down, changing, or getting side-tracked any time soon.
The future is bright and we all know that together, we can make a difference.
Significant events ...
This little helicopter was a game changer — and sparked the imagination of thousands. It's kind of fun to look back at the original products and reflect upon they originated, how the products were used, and how they were improved. The Draganflyer series of aircraft were used extensively for research at MIT, Vanderbuilt University, and countless others. The product line evolved over the years, getting bigger, carrying better payloads, and becoming easier to fly. In addition to research work, the helicopters were used worldwide for hobby, recreation, and aerial video — and even used in films (Inspector Gadget) and television, most recently the NBC prime time comedy series "Community" starring Chevy Chase.
In addition to helicopters, Draganfly introduced the DraganBot Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) with base station, and the Tango fixed-wing UAV in 2006. Research and applications for the full suite of products continues today with an emphasis on intelligent cooperation between various vehicles and payloads.
Oh boy, this was bigger than we ever imagined. We took everything we learned from the start in 1998 and created an all-new design. We knew it was cool and kept it a well guarded secret; but in the end, a stop-you-dead-in-your-tracks aircraft was introduced in 2008 — the Draganflyer X6. The reaction worldwide was "Wow!" and set a new standard for the multi-rotor helicopter industry. Why was it so special? It featured beautiful carbon fiber construction, a folding airframe, amazing autopilot technology, a wide variety of payloads, and a unique handheld controller. The customer reaction was overwhelming, and the system was recognized as one of the "Best of What's New" awards by Popular Science in 2008.
The products receive most of the attention, but at it's core, it's all about the company, the culture, and the people. It doesn't matter if you're writing software, designing PCB boards, creating new hardware, shipping products, accounting, managing the office or servicing equipment, everyone is working as a team with a common goal — the customer. Draganfly has repeatedly received the ABEX award in recognition of their business and employees.
Our work is never done and, like most of us, the only thing holding us back is time. Building upon our success, we continue to design and innovate new products: ground based robotics, fixed-wing aircraft, new innovative amazing payloads and the Draganflyer series of helicopters. Our goal is to provide high quality data to the customer. Whether it's a robot searching a building or a helicopter overhead, we're working hard to deliver the best data possible while at the same time making the products more robust, easier to use, easier to transport, and longer running.
Pictured above is the new handheld ground control station (GCS). The ergonomics alone took over one year of research and development but, by taking our time, we all benefit from the extra effort that went into this product. The GCS features a direct sunlight screen, full blown computer, precision joy sticks, audio capability, digital video down-link and more. Even better, it works with all our vehicles across the product line.At Draganfly Innovations Inc. we design and build our products from the ground-up. This includes software, PC boards, hardware design, molding, assembly, final testing, training, support ... it's all right here in one place.