Sony is jumping into the drone arena, but not to compete against companies like DJI.
They just announced that in a joint venture, their mobile division will be joining up with the Japanese robotics firm ZMP to start a new company called Aerosense Inc. Here's a bit from the press release:
Sony Mobile Communications Inc. (“Sony Mobile”: President and CEO Hiroki Totoki) and ZMP Inc. (“ZMP”: CEO Hisashi Taniguchi) have agreed to collaborate on the development and launch of enterprise solutions using autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles for image capture combined with cloud-based data processing. Sony Mobile and ZMP will jointly found “Aerosense Inc.,” a new company slated to be incorporated in early August of this year.
Sony’s camera, sensing, telecommunications network, and robotics technologies will be leveraged alongside ZMP’s automated driving and robotics technologies together with their business experience in industrial fields. Aerosense Inc. will combine these assets and develop comprehensive solutions that meet needs including measuring, surveying, observing, and inspecting. It will aim to roll out these services for enterprise customers beginning in 2016.
Essentially these drones (or UAVs) will be used for industrial purposes, and Sony will incorporate their fantastic camera/sensor technology as part of the project. Sony's mobile image sensor business has been very successful, and it's going to be a big part of this new venture. Aerosense may or may not move into the entertainment aspects of drones/UAVs sometime in the future, but it will certainly mean that Sony will have the experience should they decide to do so.
With companies like DJI pushing out other camera options in their lower-end products (like the Phantom 3), you're going to start having to look elsewhere for a drone that fits a GoPro or other action cameras. This is where Sony could come in if they decided to start pursuing this market — since they'll have the technology ready to go. Either way, Sony is coming out a winner with the increase in drones, because they make the sensors in most of the cameras their competitors use as well.