Updated 3 yearss ago
South Florida businesses aren’t waiting for the Federal Aviation Administration to issue regulations for commercial drone use. Many are already using them as a business tool.
Some are flying the unmanned aerial vehicles under the FAA’s hobbyist permissions, while others have received or applied for FAA exemptions that allow commercial use.
FPL, which has received an exemption, is using drones with high-resolution video cameras to inspect transformers, poles and other infrastructure in locations that might otherwise require swamp buggies, helicopters or sending workers up in buckets, says David Herlong, FPL’s director of smart grid and innovation. The company is largely using drones for inspections. Plus, the footage can be saved for future comparisons.
Construction company Skanska has applied for an FAA exemption but has already used a drone to determine the best way to disassemble a series of gantry cranes suspended 50 feet in the air inside a structure.
Instead of sending workers up on scaffolding to determine the best way to disassemble the cranes, a drone was flown close enough to see the connection points and tie-downs via video camera. It was able to deliver telemetrics on wind speeds and direction. “It’s much safer than sending someone onto a ladder or other apparatus where they have an opportunity to injure themselves,” says Oliver Smith, Skanska’s virtual design and construction director.
Other companies are using drones for marketing. Developer Devstar Group, for instance, used them to capture sweeping views and video for future units in the Marina Palms project in North Miami Beach. The drones are less expensive than using helicopters and easier for multiple runs, making them ideal for video.
Miami-Dade County is exploring the creation of a drone hub around Miami Executive Airport in the county’s far west. Within the hub, Miami Dade College’s School of Aviation has applied for an FAA exemption to use drones and has developed courses about drone use; it hopes to create a certificate program by fall of 2016. That kind of education will be important as drone use grows.
“The hardest part is not so much flying the drone or finding uses for it,” Skanska’s Smith says. “The hardest part really is making sure that you’re compliant … and ensuring that you have the safety in place.”
Innovation -- Mix and Match Medicine
Arnon Krongrad and Kimberly Langer’s “aha moment” came when Krongrad, a physician, was faced with a patient who could not afford a lifesaving procedure for his prostate cancer. The pair customized a solution, bringing the Oregon patient, a Miami surgical team and a robot from Colorado to an operating room in Trinidad. “That episode suggested a new surgery logistics model,” says Krongrad, founder of Aventurabased Surgeo.
Krongrad and Langer — the company’s chief product officer and designer of its technology — translated that model into Surgeo, an online marketplace for patients, who can review surgeons’ credentials, flat-fee prices and other information, then select a package of services.
Santiago Bravo joined U.S. Century Bank as CFO and executive vice president. He had been senior vice president and CFO at Ocean Bank.
Baptist Health South Florida hired physician Michael J. Zinner as founding CEO and executive medical director of its Miami Cancer Institute. He had been clinical director and surgeon-in-chief at the Dana- Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center in Boston and is founder of Harvard Medical School’s Center for Surgery and Public Health.
Ryder System promoted John Gleason to the newly created position of executive vice president and chief sales officer from his previous position as one of the firm’s senior vice presidents of sales.
- AVENTURA — Real estate marketing and sales firm ISG World is partnering with Beijing-based real estate brokerage Homelink International to market south Florida properties to Asian buyers.
- CORAL GABLES — Baptist Health South Florida and Boynton Beach-based Bethesda Health will merge, creating the largest health care organization in Florida in terms of revenue. The merger is expected to be complete in 2017.
- HOMESTEAD — Polk County-based CenterState Banks will acquire the 11-branch Community Bank of Florida in a cash and stock deal valued at $66.6 million.
- KEY WEST — Texas-based Highgate Hotels opened the 145-room 24 North Hotel Key West in the Triangle area — the third hotel to open in the neighborhood last year.
- MIAMI — Chile-based Banco de Credi-to e Inversiones finalized its purchase of City National Bank, after a two-year process. City National will remain locally run. > Viacom announced it will create a production hub for its global brands, which include Nickelodeon, MTV and Comedy Central, at the new EUE/Screen Gems Studio in Miami’s Arts & Entertainment District. The 88,000-sq.-ft. studio was built through a public-private partnership between the company and Miami’s Omni CRA. > Europe’s largest business accelerator — Startupbootcamp — will launch its first U.S. program in Miami with $2 million in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The organization, which operates 10 accelerators in eight other countries, will aim to support, fund and grow 30 digital health startups over three years in Miami. > Fresh juice and plant-based food store Jugofresh is growing its partnership with Whole Foods Market by opening five new south Florida locations in the grocery stores.
- MIAMI BEACH — China Construction and China-based American Da Tang Group paid $38.5 million to purchase a nearly 1-acre oceanfront lot from the Peebles Corp. The property is zoned for 60 residential or 150 hotel units. Peebles had planned to build Bath Club Estates on the site. > Florida International University will create a 3,000-sq.-ft. Maker- Bot Innovation Lab at its Miami Beach Urban Studios, using a $185,000 John S. and James L. Knight Foundation grant. The lab will include 30 3-D printers and four 3-D scanners and will support programs for students from elementary school through college, as well as for recent FIU graduates.
- MONROE COUNTY — The U.S. and Cuba signed an agreement to work together on preservation, research and education related to the marine areas around Cuba and the Florida Keys. In the first environmental pact since President Obama moved to improve relations between the two countries, the nations set out cooperation plans among government agencies.
- SOUTH MIAMI — Interval Leisure Group will acquire Starwood Hotels and Resorts’ vacation ownership business, which it is spinning off as Vistana Signature Experiences; the purchase values Vistana at $1.5 billion.
- SURFSIDE — New York-based JMH Development paid $55 million to buy out a 36-unit Surfside condominium building. It plans a 12-story luxury condominium tower on the oceanfront site.
- SWEETWATER — As part of a $12.2 million award from the U.S. Department of Energy, researchers from Florida International University’s College of Engineering and Computing are working with four other universities to examine ways to combat the threat of cyber-terrorism attacks on U.S. power grid delivery systems. The other researchers are from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, Carnegie Mellon University and Lehigh University, as well as Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp.