Interview with Mario Cugini, CEO of FoxFury Lighting Solutions on FoxFury's Backstory & Their Drone Lights
CEO of FoxFury Lighting Solutions
Hello everybody, and we hope you guys are doing well. Our UAV Interview Series is growing in popularity, and today we have a great individual turned up for our interview session. He is Mario Cugini, CEO of FoxFury Lighting Solutions.
Mario is a great person to share time with, and his drone lights business set the benchmark in the drone industry. Their range of lights is designed to be used with drones for various applications, operations, and fields. We appreciate him putting his valuable time to answer our list of questions patiently amid his packed schedule.
In this interview, we talk in-depth with Mario about FoxFury’s backstory and their drone lights. Also, he will reveal his drone gear, upcoming developments, his prediction on the future of drones, tips for fellow pilots, and so on.
We must admit it is a rare opportunity to go 1-one-1 with decision-makers, so we tried our level best to cover each aspect of drones here.
Without any further waiting, let us get started and see what Mario has to say.
To begin, Tell us a little about yourself. How did you first get interested in drones?
We first got in the drone world, five years ago, when the industry started to adopt one of our lights originally meant for cameras and GoPros as a drone light. Since then, it’s exploded, and we realize the amazing possibilities for our products in this space.
We can provide ground to sky lighting solutions with our scene lights, personal lights, and drone lights. Our team responded to the request for help. It became instantly apparent the amount of disruption this new use of RC vehicles would have.
Tell us about your company and what types of people/industries are you serving?
FoxFury is a lighting manufacturer based in Oceanside, CA. We’ve been in business for over 16 years. We manufacture many types of personal lighting tools, such as helmet lights, drone lights, scene lights, investigation lights, etc. Our products provide solutions to keep people safe in specific industry niches like fire, police, EMS, forensic, drones, photo-video, and so on. We sell in 65 countries.
What type of drones and gear are you flying? Any plans to upgrade?
We support the Drone/UAV industry in its changes. The bulk of our time has been with small to medium frames: Inspire 1 or 2, Yuneec H520 or Typhoon, Autel EVO, larger units like the AEE Mach4 and the Matrice 210, and smaller units like the Parrot Anafi, Yuneec Mantis, and the Mavic series.
Tell us about some of the drone lights you design and manufacture. What is your biggest seller?
We have 3 different types of lights that work on a variety of drones. They are all waterproof, rechargeable, and impact resistant. All our lights have strobe mode to comply with FAA and global regulations for night flight and provide lights to the camera of the drone to light up the area below it.
Our Rugo™ light has mounting options for the DJI Phantom 4 and 4 Pro, the DJI Inspire and Matrice, and the Yuneec H520, and Typhoon H. This light is up to 700 lumens and also has a tri-lens so pilots can switch between spot, area, and flood mode. It has an operational beam range of up to 100 feet. It is our biggest seller just because it’s been on the market for longer, but we are excited to offer a complete line of products to users.
Our D3060 light is featured in the new lighting system for the Autel Evo (check out their website for more information). This product has a dual LED configuration with a front light and a dorsal light. It’s up to 200 lumens and only weighs 1.3 oz. It can be mounted on any drone but works particularly well with smaller aircraft such as Mavic, Anafi, Mantis, etc.
We are finishing up our latest addition to the family, our drone spotlight for larger drones. Stay tuned for more info on this!
How do you make FoxFury products stand out in the crowd?
Quality, features, and performance. If we are working with the manufacturer, we have more complete solutions that appear to be an extension of the original device.
Design and quality are what makes the product stand out. We listen to our customers’ needs and create products that work to solve those issues. Our products are all waterproof, cordless, rechargeable, and very user-friendly.
It goes for our small drone lights all the way to our larger scene lights. They are incredibly durable, fire and impact-resistant, and made with premium-quality so they can keep up with our customers in the most extreme situations.
How has the market for drone lights changed since you started your business?
Our company is 16 years old, but we started trying to help with drones only 5 years ago. We originally were focused on photography and videography, lighting up the scene so they could film at night. However, our focus has since shifted to first responders.
The change is due to the evolution of drones and the impact they can have on seemingly impossible problems within law enforcement, fire, EMS, and other high stakes situations. With the introduction of smaller drones for these uses, the need for smaller lights increased as well.
We just followed the trends to get us where we are today. Our team can now provide ground to sky lighting solutions to keep professionals safe and able to do their jobs more safely and faster.
Are there any upcoming developments at your company?
Autel Robotics launched its new lighting system powered by FoxFury for the Autel Evo this week. We will be selling the same lights on this system individually, starting in December to fit a variety of smaller drones. Also, we are working with several drone manufacturers across the board to create customized lighting solutions for all UAVs.
What are some of the advantages of using drones to map a crime scene?
Drones can be used to gather key evidence from a crime scene much more quickly than traditional methods without disturbing the scene. The images and data collected from drones can be used in court to support forensic evidence and bring justice to the victims. Huge savings are seen in hardware, time, and manpower.
What are some of the most innovative ways you have seen drones being used?
Drones are being used in agriculture with thermal cameras to inspect crops for damage. We spoke with someone a few weeks ago who was looking into drones for avalanche rescue to search for victims under the snow. We worked with someone that is developing a drone medical delivery service to bring critical healthcare tools to remote locations.
Also, we have a customer who uses drones 9,500 ft underground to map mines and tunnels searching for structural damage. Our team is seeing drones being used more often in law enforcement to fly indoors for search and rescue and tactical missions.
Where do you see drones headed in 5 years? 10 years?
Drone offerings will continue to evolve at a crazy pace until some level of maturity is achieved. We do not anticipate that happening for at least 5 years. And, if technology components such as batteries take another leap forward, the industry will probably see another few years of product changes and volatility.
We anticipate seeing the industry level out a bit in the coming years, with some manufacturers taking the lead with significant market share.
What do you think about the current state of drone law?
Global drone laws will continue to change as they try to catch up with this fast-growing industry. Technology is far ahead of running faster than what the law can produce. Significant changes will be needed to create a logical body of rules for drone use.
What do you think the biggest misconceptions are of drones?
Many people are fearful of drone technology, thinking its primary purpose is to spy on the public. In reality, drones save lives by gathering critical data and taking the place of first responders in dangerous situations. They can provide incredibly detailed and essential data for law enforcement in investigations. It can help farmers, miners, construction workers, linemen, and just about anybody that can find a use for them.
We all have to do a better job in educating the public, so they see the value in this industry as professionals see it.
What have been some particularly memorable drone demonstrations you have conducted?
Night CSI demonstrations, accident reconstruction scenes, and nighttime flight training are some of the events we’ve been lucky to participate in. It is fantastic to see exciting new drone applications in rescue, investigation, and law enforcement.
What are some ways that drones might help foster new job growth?
Drones can be used in nearly any industry, and we’re seeing people start to catch on to that. The need for pilots, in general, will only continue to increase, but the demand for pilots with specialized skills and certifications will also exponentially increase.
You can also see it in education. Drone programs are incredibly common at high schools and colleges around the country, preparing students for this new wave of growth.
What are some sectors you predict drones will be taking off, in the next few years?
The major industries will be fire, law, and EMS. We predict to see a massive increase in using drones for tactical missions, firefighting, and situation assessment.
We have already seen a preview of this with UPS, but drones will most likely be big as delivery methods for medicine, tools, and general mail.
Why is it a good idea to always insure your drone and equipment?
There are too many variables that govern a safe drone mission. Some are outside of the pilot’s control, and some are due to pilot error. You want to make sure you are insured in case of damage to the drone and others.
When you are not on behind the drones, where would we find you?
The drone industry is a big focus for FoxFury, but it’s not all we do.
We make products for law enforcement, investigators, recreational users, and beyond, so we have a lot of other work to do. Also, we are a big family company; thus, we always make it a priority to enjoy our downtime and make the most of it.
What advice would you give to others who want to get started flying drones?
You are not required to be an experienced pilot to start, and you do not need the most expensive equipment. Do your homework on federal and local regulations in your area and what certifications you may need to fly. Once you have that in order, start racking up the hours. Buy an inexpensive drone to start, so when you wreck it or lose it, you won’t feel too bad about it.
What advances in drone technology are you excited about?
We are excited about the use of drones being used indoors for inspections, tactical missions, and search and rescue. It’s a relatively new area for law enforcement, which means we are trying to figure things out together and seeing some cool stuff in the process.
Did you enjoyed our interview? Is there anything else that we have not touched on that you would like to share?
The interview was great! We are thrilled to be a part of an industry that is still testing the waters. Everyone is excited to be involved and excited about all the opportunities drones can bring.
Check out FoxFury on the web!
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