Posts tagged "Drones"

In my last post, Five Biggest Commercial Drone Trends of 2017 and the Challenges Ahead, I used data from our 2017 Drone Market Sector Report to illustrate the major trends of the past year and describe the major challenges ahead for the drone industry. That post looked back, but this one looks forward, offering our specific predictions for 2018, including investments, technology improvements, ecosystem partnerships, and software innovations.

(Listen to this companion Drone Radio Show podcast here for our complete assessment.)

1. Investment and testing will continue in earnest on Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.

With regulations moving at the speed of government and dissenting views on Drone ID, it seems like UTM (air traffic management for low-altitude drones) is an elusive dream. However, there is hope that testing being done on beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations in drone corridors will provide the necessary inputs to integrate drones into the national airspace. Expect news this summer from the vendors and service providers conducting tests at NUAIR in New York as they release results and performance-based navigation standards begin to coalesce.

2. You’ll see more news on improved sensors, hardware integration, networking, and processing.

Already, we’ve seen announcements like this one for new thermal imaging drone payloads. Expect to see further Ethernet / IP sensor integration efforts as more and more remote managers demand immediate access to data from local operations. Expect more news on LiDAR / drone integration like this one from Delair-Tech as more land surveyors and construction professionals demand further time and money savings over traditional methods.

3. Look for more partnerships, software, and innovations coming from the DJI Enterprise ecosystem.

We noted in our 2017 Drone Market Sector Report just how much DJI dominates the industry with its 72% market share. All the major mission-planning and mapping applications—like DroneDeploy, PrecisionHawk’s PrecisionMapper, Skycatch, and dozens more—now run on the DJI SDK. What our report didn’t mention was DJI’s focused efforts to further expand its commercial ecosystem. DJI Enterprise’s AirWorks Conference is but one example, an event whose purpose is showcasing applied drone solutions for the commercial industry’s most challenging obstacles. Expect many innovations from DJI’s partners in the hardware, software, and service sectors.

4. Software will dominate advancements.

Along with the new imaging sensor announcements in 2018, we expect to see imaging software advancements as companies seek to combine RGB, thermal imaging, orthomosaic, and radiometric data.

We also expect to see more aerial imaging and mapping software firms announce artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities. Right now, most of this is cloud-based machine learning (aka deep learning and predictive analytics) where data sets are trained by specialized teams. You may see some edge-based AI announcements for image recognition/machine vision, but be cautious when you do. We think it’s still early in the technology development cycle and AI is at peak hype.

We think the big news for 2018 will be the integration of drone data and workflow into asset management systems. Capabilities include documentation, tracking, and GIS data integration. It may bring a yawn to some but we believe when you can connect the dots and show the effect of drone data capture on the balance sheet, CFOs and CEOs will take notice and drive further enterprise adoption.

Parting thoughts

As I speak to clients, I always like to remind them of two things about the commercial drone market. First, it’s not a drone market, it’s a data and information market. The drone is just a data capture device. Second, drones are aircraf, not consumer products and as such their operations are regulated by aviation authorities.  All technology advancements aside, this is a regulated market, so always expect lumpy, bumpy growth.

We hope you keep those in mind as well and wish you best success in the coming year.

Listen to the companion podcast here http://bit.ly/2CXe6uK.

If you have questions about what’s in the report I mention or would like to comment, write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: Shutterstock and Skylogic Research

Last year at this time, I reflected back on the news and trends of the commercial drone markets of 2016 and wrote about the mixed state of affairs ahead for 2017. Throughout the year, I offered my perspective on how the drone industry was still motivated by hype and how assessing forward momentum required hard data on the performance of the various sectors of the industry. To that end, we did research over the summer that surveyed 2,600 respondents on drone purchases, service providers, business users, and software services. In September, we published the data in 2017 Drone Market Sector Report 2017.

In this post, I’ll use that data to illustrate the major trends of the past year and describe what I think are the major challenges ahead for the drone industry.

Listen to this companion Drone Radio Show podcast here for the complete assessment.

Trend 1—Growth

By all measures, the drone industry in 2017 was marked by significant growth – growth in aircraft sales, software licenses, the number of service businesses entering the market, and the number of industrial businesses setting up commercial operations.

Here are a few statistics:

  • We project U.S. sales in 2017 to be about 3.3M units, which is 36% above 2016 figures. That’s all drones, all sizes. It’s about 1.3M units for the >250gram category.
  • As of October 31st, there were about 837,000 hobbyist users and 107,000 non-hobbyist drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • As of December 1st, there were about 66,000 Part 107 FAA Pilots.

This represents a big change in the commercial market since Part 107 regulations supplanted Section 333 as the means for commercial operations in the U.S. What this and our survey data tells us is the number of service providers currently outpaces demand, and as a result, service prices are coming down significantly.

Trend 2—Consumerization

We said in our report that more consumer drones are being used for commercial work than ever before. For example, our data shows that more than two-thirds (68%) of all drones weighing over 250 grams are purchased for professional purposes—either governmental or business.

Why is this significant? Because the impact of consumer-originated technology on the enterprise is something that can’t be ignored. Enterprises want to take advantage of powerful, yet easy-to-use products (like DJI’s popular consumer models), and put them to work on the job. What this means for operators or businesses is that a shared core technology benefits all users and enables companies to scale the best experiences to everyone. Enterprise customers get the added simplicity and usability of the consumer product that has been built to meet the demands of thousands of customers around the world.  The average individual pilot gets to benefit from the reliability and scalability inherent in the product and demanded by enterprise users.

Trend 3—The DJI effect

Our data shows DJI is the clear market leader in drone aircraft sales and almost every software category. For example, DJI is the dominant brand for drone aircraft purchases, with a 72% global market share across all price points and an even higher share (87%) of the core $1,000–$1,999 price segment. Additionally, in the three categories of software we evaluated, DJI is the market-share leader in two: flight logging and operations, and automated mission planning.

This is significant because by building on top of its existing technology platform, DJI has fast-tracked development and has benefited from economies of scale. By migrating a successful technology stack and feature set upmarket, DJI never has to reinvent the wheel—it just needs to improve upon the original design and save engineering cycles for real innovation.

The upshot is that to stay relevant, all the other major vendors have had to partner with DJI (see Trend 5 Partnerships, below). DJI’s sales success has taken market share from others and has led to layoffs at 3DR, Autel, GoPro, Parrot, and Yuneec. However, fears about data security remain. And this has some speculating about whether DJI can sustain its leadership role in the future.

Trend 4—Investments

According to CB Insights, investments shifted in 2017 from aircraft hardware to software. In 2016, there were 106 deals totaling $542M. Most of these were for hardware. In 2017, VCs focused on software, end-to-end solutions, and counter-drone technology. CB Insights projects the year will end with 110 deals totaling $494M. The most significant investment this past year was 3D Robotics’ $53M Series D round. It saw them pivot from hardware to software services.

Why is this significant?  Because it shows the industry is still maturing. Seed and Series A rounds represented 60% of all deals in 2017; whereas early-stage share peaked in 2015 at 73% of deals. Additionally, some of the most well-funded drone companies are targeting enterprise and industrial inspection.

What this means for operators or businesses is greater affordability. Software advances, computer chip manufacturing techniques, and economies of scale will continue to drive down the cost of drone platforms and sensors and solutions.

Trend 5—Partnerships

This year we saw a change from synergistic merger and acquisitions to the creation of end-to-end solutions via partnerships. For example, look at how DJI’s enterprise partnerships have grown. Consider their AirWorks conference. What drone major vendor wasn’t there? The list included DroneDeploy, Measure, PrecisionHawk, Skycatch, and Sentera, to name a few.

This past year we also saw an uptick in regulators and industry stakeholder partnerships. For example, the Drone Advisory Committee was created to provide the FAA with advice on unmanned aircraft integration from a diverse group of stakeholders. Major commercial participants include Intel, DJI, Amazon, Google X, and Facebook, as well the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

Consider also the FAA’s new UAS Integration Pilot Program. Here, government entities are partnering with private-sector companies, such as unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) operators and manufacturers, to submit proposals to the FAA to fly more advanced operations in their communities, including flying beyond line of sight and over people. This is significant because it’s clear that regulators want to include industry when creating policies.

However, there is some good news / bad news with this.

The good news is greater flexibility. With vendor partnerships, drones will be able to perform more types of data gathering in a shorter timeframe and with more precision than many other options. So, more aircraft, sensor, and software integration.

The bad news is operators and businesses have regulatory uncertainty. We advise our clients to plan for some uncertainty as technology, the public, and bureaucracy find common ground on operations for beyond visual line of sight and over people.

Challenges ahead

Here’s my list of the major challenges facing the drone industry in 2018:

  1. Regulations: We may see more regulatory red tape—e.g., a patchwork quilt of rules as the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program begins to make policy.
  2. Public sentiment: Basic public concerns still exist about drone safety, security, privacy, and their public nuisance. My question is: How can we overcome this?
  3. Business value: We’ve yet to see credible ROI that hits the executive scorecard. The key question is: What monetary benefit do drones and information gleaned from drones provide shareholder value?
  4. Information accuracy: Up to now, drone vendors have been focused on the accuracy of image capture and the rigor of the drone system. For better business value, they need to focus on the accuracy of the data processing and the rigor of data analysis.
  5. IT data governance: This is especially the case for drone inspections where a single drone could collect 50 to 100 gigabytes of data. Managing these large data sets starts to become one of the things that have to be worked out.
  6. Automation: A lot of software automation will come, including artificial intelligence (AI) or algorithms that minimize the amount of human effort to distill all that information and get to some actionable inference. But large scale industrial use of AI is young and it requires manual intervention to distinguish the difference between near-similar objects.
  7. Endurance: We’re still on the quest for efficiencies like better power sources or mixes.
  8. Widespread business adoption: Business and industry adoption is growing, but it’s mixed because of factors such as business risk aversion, concerns over invasion of privacy, and a reluctance by many companies to share too much information about successes.

That’s it for now.

Listen to the companion podcast here http://bit.ly/2CXe6uK.

Look for a follow-up piece on our specific predictions for 2018, which will include investments, technology improvements, ecosystem partnerships, and software innovations.

If you have questions about what’s in the report I mention or would like to comment, write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: Shutterstock

We just announced the start of our 2017 Drone Market Sector Research, which promises to be the most comprehensive study of drone market trends and usage to date. The online portion of this research seeks to get your opinions about buying and using small unmanned aircraft systems—otherwise known as drones This independent research is being underwritten by Airware and DroneDeploy and is designed to uncover fresh insights on which drone industry sectors are thriving (and which aren’t) and how businesses are using drone-acquired data in their day-to-day operations.

Why are we doing this?

Because we believe the consumer and commercial drone market needs it. Our observations:

  • We see a lack of objective information on the drone industry.
  • We find there’s an absence of credible market-based research.
  • We see little understanding of the difference between large industry forecasts and actual buyer adoption rates.

The survey will explore:

  • Who’s buying what types of drones from which makers at which prices and for what use?
  • How large are drone-based service providers and how and where are they positioning themselves to whom and which target industries?
  • What concerns business buyers of drone-based projects most and why?
  • How much are service providers and business buyers using flight management and data analytic software for image-based projects?

Who should take the survey?

  • Individuals or businesses who have purchased a drone in the past 12 months for any reason
  • Commercial drone service providers
  • Businesses that use drones or drone services as part of their company’s internal work or projects

Take the brief 10-minute survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/2017_drone_market

As an incentive for your participation in the survey, there will be an opportunity to:

  • Receive a free summary report of the research results, a $95 value
  • Enter to win a free DJI Spark Mini Drone (a $400 value) or one of two $100 VISA gift cards.

When complete, the research study will provide a complete view of topics like:

  • Critical industry drivers
  • Vendor and service provider market share
  • Business adoption trends and issues
  • Market size for all drones and growth projections by segment

The survey will be in market for four weeks, and results will be available in September.

As always, I’m interested in hearing from you.  If have questions or comments, feel free comment below or email me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image: Shutterstock and Skylogic Research

Drones bring a new perspective to real estate listings.

A FOUR-PART SERIES

Just think about it. Ten years ago the only way I could write about ‘drones at work’ was in Science Fiction form. Now, every single day across the country, drones are taking to the sky and changing a variety of industries, including everything from real estate to television news. In late June, the Trump administration said drones are a key technology that will drive innovation in the future. Unmanned aerial vehicles will create jobs—100,000 by 2025 according to one estimate—and increase business efficiency by saving time and money. Drones have come a long way in a short amount of time and we’re still only at the beginning.

Up Sonder has taken an active role in helping drones get to work. Our online platform for drone pilots and services is available 24/7 across the nation. It’s the best way for companies to find a reliable drone pilot or service.

Trust us there are a lot of opportunities out there when it comes to work done with drones. This is why I need to highlight four industries I believe drones will have an immediate impact on over the next few years. Those industries are real estate, construction, insurance and journalism/entertainment. (I have left out agriculture and inspection, because I believe the four industries above will be impacted more immediately or have a clearer social impact in people’s perception.)

In part one of this series, I will write about drone in real estate. So without further ado, let’s look at how drones can help sell houses!

What Drones Bring to the Table

If you are a real estate agent the question you are asking yourself is, “Why do I need a drone?”

Let’s think about the big picture first. According to a market report from Goldman Sachs, the addressable market for drones in real estate is $265 million by 2020.That’s the near future potential of drones in real estate, apart from what is already being done, which is widespread enough for local municipalities to address with local laws.

Drones are a powerful tool for realtors because they are a cost effective way to get aerial shots of any house. Aerial images and videos give a perspective on a property not possible before. They are a great way to tell the story of the property and show its surroundings and neighborhood. Realtors that implement new selling tools like drones are finding more success.

According to statistics from Multiple Listing Services (MLS), homes with aerial drone images (and video) sold 68% faster than homes with standard images. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also has numbers that show 73% of homeowners say they are more likely to list with agents that use video to market their home. Simply put, drone videos create better listings and more sales.

What Realtors Say

Recently I had the opportunity to talk with Kirk Hawkins, an agent with The Agency, a leading Los Angeles-based real estate brokerage, about drones. The Agency already extensively uses drone photos and videos for its listings.

“Drones are important because they offer a fresh and unique perspective on a property. When combined with more traditional methods like ground-based photography and print media it adds something special that attracts more attention and gives you an edge when selling,” said Hawkins.

Take a look for yourself below and see how drones video adds something special to an online listing. “Everyone starts online these days,” said Hawkins. “Great drone video sets a listing apart.”

[embedded content]

Up Sonder is actively working with real estate agencies to help them set themselves apart with drone video. Recently, we helped award-winning real estate firm Lamerica find a drone pilot for a listing in West Hollywood.

“We got Lamerica a great pilot and great video that showed off the vastness of the property,” said Up Sonder’s CEO Derek Waleko. “Our marketplace of drone pilots allowed Lamerica to make the most of their listing.”

[embedded content]

The Agency and Lamerica are just two examples of drone usage in Los Angeles, but don’t for a second think it is something that is just for big city markets. Drone use in real estate is soaring across the country. BlueLaVaMedia in Northern Michigan has a whole drone team that is busy shooting homes that line Lake Michigan. In a recent webinar on drones in real estate, BlueLaVa’s Jason LaVanture talked about how he has a backlog of over 30 drone jobs.

Getting Involved

If you are a real estate agent who wants to use a drone to increase your sales then go and check out Up Sonder. All of our pilots are FAA licensed and are ready to help you increase the value of your listings.

If you are a drone pilot looking to get into the real estate business then make sure to check out this great webinar from our friends over at UAV Coach.

Coming Up

In the next article of our four-part series on drones at work, we will take a look at the construction industry and what drones offer. Just a little teaser, drones in construction has billions in potential!

We just released a new research report titled “Five Valuable Business Lessons About Drones in Asset and Infrastructure Inspection” This is the fourth in a series of white papers intended to share lessons learned in specific industries and how to maximize the value drones can deliver in those industries. This year, we are building on the analysis we did for the 2016 “Truth About” papers by incorporating real-world experience gained from businesses and drone pilots operating under the Federal Aviation Administration’s Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations (aka FAA Part 107).

In the report, which co-authored by Chris Korody, we demonstrate what drone operators servicing a wide variety of industries have learned about what works and what doesn’t. We explore both the benefits and limitations of drone inspection projects and offer practical advice to would-be adopters. We answer questions like: What have companies learned about creating their own internal drone operation groups? And where do we go or what can we expect from here?

Here is an excerpt:

“While both media and investors have primarily focused on opportunities for using drones in the construction and agriculture industries, inspection applications have fostered innovation together with significant returns on investment. The reasons begin with the “four Ds”—a term coined by GE Ventures to describe the unique ability of drones to meet the needs of their field services customers. The four D’s describe any activity that’s tailor-made to be performed by a drone, and are:

  • Dull
  • Dirty
  • Dangerous
  • Distant

In a 2014 interview, Sue Siegel, the CEO of GE Ventures, added a fifth “D”—for data—saying simply, “Imagine that if you’re doing it faster, you might be able to do it more often. And more data typically will give you better data.”

The four Ds+1 combination is one of the most compelling arguments for drone adoption in companies where uptime is money, crews are expensive, and structures and facilities are often expected to last 50 to 100 years.

The other compelling argument is cost reduction. McKinsey Consulting’s recent white paper “Preserving the downturn’s upside highlights how the oil and gas industry reduced costs by 29% in response to falling oil prices. They show that 40% to 50% of the savings came from eliminating the demand for a variety of services, including manned aviation support. The innovators figured out how to put drones to work.”

The report goes on to discuss how drones and the data from drones offer huge advantages in the oil & gas, telecommunications, and utility industries. It also provides insights from Dexter Lewis, PE, senior engineer in the research and development group at Southern Company (NYSE: SO) which brings electricity and gas to 9 million customers.

You can get the free report here.

If you have questions about what’s in the report or would like to comment on it after reading it, write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: Shutterstock

Selfie DroneSelfie drones give your narcissism wings, but luckily they can do more.

At CES 2017 you couldn’t get away from selfie drones. Everywhere you looked there was your very own aerial camera that quite literally brought narcissism to new heights.

It’s hardly been six months, but this space is moving so fast there has already been some shake-ups. One of the most anticipated selfie drones has crashed (Lily drone) and just two weeks ago DJI, the biggest player in the world of drones, plopped down its considerable presence on the overcrowded couch of selfie drones. And let’s not forget that it was the selfie drone that finally got the attention of the world’s largest consumer electronics brand—now you can buy one in any Apple store.

What is it about the selfie drone anyway? Are they the latest tech fad that will reel in money for a year or two and then fade away? Maybe, but I think there’s a lot more to selfie drones than dollar signs and social media buzz.

Selfie drones are important because they serve as the new testing ground for technologies that are vital to the future of drones like miniaturization, autonomous flight, machine learning (gesture commands), and interfacing with the life of an average person (social media). A selfie drone is the fastest way to get new drone technology into the hands of average people and see the interaction of this technology with normal life.

Who Said Smaller Isn’t Better

As with any technology, miniaturization is important. Over time you can do more with the same amount of space. Drones are no different. The new DJI Spark weighs 70% less and is only 1/3 of the size of the Phantom 2 drone I keep on my shelf for posterity’s sake. Even with these reductions, the Spark manages to offer a 12 megapixel camera, advanced GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning, a 3D sensing system, and computer vision—none of which the Phantom 2 has.

The DJI Spark has a lot of technology crammed into its small frame. (Source : DJI)

Zerotech’s Dobby is even lighter and, in fact, small enough to fit into the breast pocket of a button-up shirt. While its specs are not as impressive as the Spark’s, the story of its “insides” is really a story about how miniaturization is key to unlocking the true potential of drones.

To make the Dobby, Zerotech partnered with Qualcomm. The key to miniaturizing the drone was making an integrated chip that could fit into a mini motherboard and be able to handle CPU, imaging, communications, GPS, artificial intelligence, and remote control functions. Zerotech had not worked with integrated chips before so there were some issues getting their drone tech to operate correctly. It took months of engineers banging around problems, but eventually the Dobby came into being.

Dobby is arguably not the best drone on the market, but both Zerotech and Qualcomm view it as a transitional product on the path to the drones of tomorrow. They have proven they can integrate and reduce size which will make drones a powerful computing platform for the sky. In five years, drones the size of the Dobby and Spark will be more powerful than larger drones today. Sensors will be smaller, processors will be smaller, power sources will be smaller—all because of selfie drones.

Autonomy at the Touch of a Button

Selfie drones didn’t create the idea of autonomous drone flight and they are not the main factor pushing this technology forward. But they are playing their part and are the way most people will become familiar with the reality of autonomous drone flight.

Their contribution can be traced back to 3DR’s Iris+ drone which, when launched in 2014, was the first widely available commercial drone with a “follow me” function. Every selfie drone today can do this in addition to course lock, go to a point of interest, active tracking, as well as preset movements for shots. With the push of a button selfie drones can become autonomous by using a combination of computer vision and software.

This technology is not unique to selfie drones, but just think how many millions of people around the world are going to be introduced to autonomous drone flight just because they want the ultimate selfie.

Signing with Robots

Another selling feature of most selfie drones is the ability to be controlled by gestures. With a wave of your hand you can command a drone to do everything from fly away from you to take a picture. Like with autonomous flight features, the ability to command with gestures is pretty limited and sometimes buggy, but that’s not why I am mentioning it.

[embedded content]

The fact that drone manufacturers were able to cram machine learning and intelligence features into something so small is impressive. But more than anything else, it’s a way to introduce consumers to the concept of using gestures to command drones. Researchers around the world are working on drones that can autonomously interact with people via facial and hand gestures. The end goal is for these drones to be used as a kind of personal assistant at retail locations, on tours, and even in the workplace. Selfie drones are the first large scale testing ground for using machine learning and gestures. The lessons being learned will be vital for further drone development.

Let’s Take a Dronie

Regardless of what the future holds, selfie drones are making their mark today because they are easy to integrate with the great passion of our time, social media. The marketing of every selfie drone shows happy people documenting moments for their friends with the help of a wonderful new tool. If you want more confirmation of the social power of drones just remember that in late May Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, bought Los Angeles-based drone maker Ctrl Me.

For better or worse selfie drones are here to stay. Just don’t forget that these drones have a lot more going for them than narcissism. They are a stepping stone to the drones of the future.

Joe Christian is Director of Content for Up Sonder, a network of drone pilots for hire and the first on-demand drone rental platform powered by UberRUSH and Postmates. Up Sonder gives business and the public access to the drone industry while providing a way for drone pilots and owners to earn extra money.

The drone superhighway will need proper laws and management

A FOUR PART SERIES

Last week, I wrote about how the groundwork is being laid as we speak for a drone superhighway. If you haven’t already read part one of this four-part series be sure to go back and start at the beginning. This week, we’ll look at a drone traffic management system and legal hurdles to a drone superhighway. So without further ado, let’s get down to business.

Drone Traffic Management System

What exactly is a drone traffic management system? Like the aircraft management system currently in place for the thousands of planes that fly through US airspace every day, it’s a way to track and safely manage drone flights.

But managing drones presents a number of hurdles. First, there will be many more drones in the sky than planes. Second, traditional tracking methods like radar and transponders don’t work well with small unmanned drones. Luckily, NASA is hard at work developing the groundwork for UAS Traffic Management (UTM). NASA currently has six active test sites throughout the US and has partnered with companies like AirMap, Skyward and AeroVironment to research and test solutions. NASA is on track to finish by 2019 and then hand their findings over to the FAA for implementation by 2025, right around the same time Elon Musk will be landing people on Mars.

As we mentioned in part one of the series, all this work will be part of the FAA’s Next Generation Air Transport Control System (NextGen) that will give planes, drones, helicopters and anything else in the sky the ability to communicate directly with each other and traffic control systems through data comms. The FAA is also developing special rules on how drones will operate at low altitudes through controlled airspace. Right now, the FAA is working on developing something called Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC). It’s a terrible acronym, but an awesome idea! Here is how a LAANC will help:

  • It will automate authorizations for drones to fly in controlled airspace, which currently takes up to 90 days!
  • It will allow drones the ability to directly notify air traffic control if they are within five miles of airports or other restricted airspaces they get permission to fly through.

This is amazing, but how will the average drone pilot interact with automatic authorizations? One answer is AirMap who has a powerful app that lets a drone pilot submit a digital notice to an airport. AirMap leads the industry in this area and is already working with over 125 airports across America. To see an example take a look at the video below.

[embedded content]

Sneak peek at a rendering of Up Sonder’s future app.

Up Sonder is committed to making these advancements available to our users, which is why we are in talks with AirMap to design and develop an app that will integrate the mapping and notification abilities of AirMap with the drone marketplace of Up Sonder. (Keep your eyes open for updates on this!)

Efforts to build drone management systems are also well underway the world over. In Singapore, the government and researchers are pushing to test their drone traffic management system which includes dedicated virtual lanes and geofences to keep drones out of certain areas by the end of 2017. In China, eCommerce giant JD.com has partnered with the northern Chinese province of Shaanxi to set up a low altitude drone logistics network covering the whole province. According to reports in Chinese media, this logistic network will monitor and control the flight of everything from small drones to large transport drones.

I’m sure you’re as excited as me to see what the FAA starts to implement by 2025. Just remember that the FAA’s job is not a simple one. This March, at the Unmanned Aircraft System Symposium FAA chief Michael Huerta said, “Our challenge is to find the right balance where safety and innovation co-exist on relatively equal planes. As we move toward fully integrating unmanned aircraft into our airspace, the questions we need to answer are only getting more complicated.”

Overcoming legal hurdles

Without getting into too much legalese, we need to talk about the law for a minute. The drone superhighway needs a unified legal framework so it can properly operate. If the FAA has one set of regulations and states and cities have another set of regulations, it’s going to get messy real fast. While technically speaking the FAA has jurisdiction to regulate all aspects of civil aviation, this hasn’t stopped local authorities from setting up their own drone laws…because surprise, surprise there are some gray areas!

Drone laws need more legal conformity.

Today, we have a situation where there are over 130 local laws (and much more proposed) in addition to the federal regulations from the FAA. Why would a city want to make their own drone law? In most cases, it ends up boiling down to safety and privacy concerns. Unlike other aircraft, the general population still understands very little about drones and these unknown machines are operating in close proximity to humans and their property. This is why a lot of local authorities feel it is prudent to make their own laws and regulations about drones. Luckily, many are reasonable like the recent law passed in San Diego. Their newly passed law basically takes the FAA regulations for drones and makes them a San Diego city ordinance so police can have a legal basis to issue citations and fines for improper uses of drones.

Other local laws go beyond the scope of FAA regulations and this is what has the potential to create legal hurdles to fully implementing a drone superhighway. For example, Allendale, New Jersey prohibits commercial drone flight in any airspace below 400 feet unless you are directly over a property where you have permission to fly. The city of Orlando, Florida requires a permit to fly a drone which costs $20 per event or $150 per year. If you are caught flying a drone without a permit you will get fined between $200-$400. Then, there is the proposed law making its way through the Oklahoma Senate that would allow property owners to shoot down a drone without risk of a civil penalty.

It’s going to be tough to have a functioning drone superhighway if property owners can blast drones out of the sky, or local towns refuse to allow drones to operate below 400 feet. In order to avoid a situation where there is a patchwork of local laws and regulations on drones, states and municipalities need to communicate with the FAA and follow the guidelines which have already been issued to help local authorities create laws that are in line with their larger plans to safely integrate drones into the national airspace.

Next week in part three of this series we will look at beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operation, the possibility of fully autonomous drones, and how Trump administration policies could be used to advance the drone superhighway.

Stay tuned!

I am glad to publish the following guest post by Tushar Grover, webmaster of the MiniDroneReview web site, which addresses some basic considerations to be made while selecting a drone model to buy.

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By Tushar Grover

As we move forward in this fast paced technology innovation era where lots of new gadgets are being developed and build from scratch in front of our eyes, drones technology has not being left behind in the race of powerful R&D, which have led to innovation of some powerful drones equipped with best technology that are being used in various work industries and by common people too for betterment of our society.

different drone models

So come on folks let’s take a look at some of the tips which you must keep in mind while on a lookout for new drone to get a good drone buying experience with awesome drone to fulfil your desire to fly a great drone .

  1. Camera Quality

Camera quality is an important factor for all the photography enthusiast and other people who buy camera drones to take some jaw dropping pictures from different angels in the sky while they are performing adventure sports like sky diving, water sports or just rock climbing, so that they can cherish those moments later in life .

Generally you may find that while buying a camera drone, it comes under 2 categories i.e with attached camera and other without camera which gives you choice and freedom to attach a sports action camera of your choice to captures awesome pics like gopro action camera or any other similar one .

Choosing drone with attached camera would come at little bit extra cost when compared to one without camera, so if you already have gopro then you buy one without camera to save some bucks. It all depends on your personal choice for which one to choose as there is not much difference between both of them and both are equally good.

  1. Price Point

Price point is a factor which could bring smile on your face or burn hole in pocket if you don’t choose a good drone at reasonable price after discount according to your budget.

When you head out to buy a drone make sure that you have already made up your mind about the budget, as it could help you choose the best drone in market which seems to be filled with lot of choices of drones ranging from $40 to $3000 approx.

Moreover if you choose to buy your new drone while the retailers are throwing discounts and online stores are also having clearance sale in holidays then you could easily get a good drones with all the features of your choice without spending an exorbitant amount of money, which would make you feel happy besides saving some money for party with your friends and family, even you can buy some extra nano drones from left over money for your kids to make them happy too.

  1. Features

While planning to buy a new drone don’t forget to take a look at some cool drone video and drone reviews on internet to know about all the drone features and then make a lists of all the essential features which would require in your drones according to your budget.

Some of the cool features which should be there in your new drones are good GPS and WIFI signal range, way appoint and orbital modes, start point landing, RTF and FPV modes and many more

  1. Flight Time

Flight time is one of the important factors that is being overlooked by new drone buyers while on a new drone shopping spree.

As per current market standard all good consumer drones generally have around 20-30 minutes of flight time which I think is decent, although researchers in various big companies like DJI, Gopro etc are working to increase it without compromising on battery size which could make drone heavy.

Generally you may find that drones with higher battery life which gives longer flight time comes at an expensive price point which may be unaffordable for some, so if you can’t buy a high priced drone due to budget constraints then you should atleast buy couple of extra battery to keep the fun going while you are in jovial mood of drone flying to capture some cool photos on your holiday vacations

Verdict

Buying a good drone which could fulfil all your requirements of having a good quadcopter is not an easy task, so I hope you got some good insight from the above tips which would help you choose good personal drone to capture some cool pics with your friends with your new drones this holidays.

Share this with your friends and family to spread the knowledge about drones.

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Stay tuned on the Personal Drones Blog for the latest quadcopter and multirotor news!

DroneDeploy’s new App Market fills a need for commercial drone use, but can the data quality measure up for widespread industrial use?

THE FACTS:

This past week, DroneDeploy introduced its new App Market, a store for drone applications from a range of companies—including Autodesk, Box, John Deere, and 13 others—as well as a variety of industry verticals. Additionally, it includes applications from Airmap, Dronelogbook, Flyte, Kittyhawk, NV Drone, Skyward, and Verifly that help pilots and businesses manage drone operations and compliance.  In a nutshell, these apps enable enterprises and drone-based business service providers to automate their workflow and data integration with specialized tools built right within the DroneDeploy user interface.

In one way or another, the apps enable businesses to extend the capability of DroneDeploy’s automated mapping and online drone data services with apps that augment flight planning, logging, data analysis, export, and more. Apps appear in different areas of the DroneDeploy interface, depending on what they do, and you install them in your DroneDeploy account. For example, a flight planning app will appear in the flight planning interface, whereas an export or integration app may appear in the export menu. You can read about the details of this announcement here.

WHAT’S COOL AND WHAT’S NOT

The three apps that stand out in this announcement and make progress toward workflow goals are Autodesk, Box, and John Deere. In a generic sense, “workflow” is the definition, execution, and automation of business processes where tasks, information, or documents are passed from one participant to another for action, according to a set of procedural rules. Workflows automate the flow of employee tasks and activities and make processes more efficient, compliant, agile, and visible.

With the Autodesk app, users can send their maps and 3D models directly from DroneDeploy into their Autodesk Forge storage. The Box app on DroneDeploy lets users easily export maps to their Box account for easy sharing with clients or other enterprise software solutions. With the John Deere app, users can import field boundaries from MyJohnDeere, which can help align flight planning with ongoing management of farm machines, fields, and jobs.

 THE COMPETITION:

In the past, many have discounted the output of DroneDeploy’s processed data as not good enough for enterprise work. This stems largely from the fact that almost all of their users fly and capture data with prosumer-level drones from DJI. For example, one of the main criticisms I’ve heard is that the resulting point clouds are not resolute enough for construction or engineering work. However, one look at this webcast with Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the largest privately held construction firms in the United States, and you can see first-hand the specific projects that have among other things integrated DroneDeploy automated mapping in their Building Information Modeling (BIM) process. Their plan is to scale this program across their sites.

Let’s be clear. This trend toward the use of prosumer drones for enterprise work is not going away anytime soon.  All the major mission planning and mapping applications like DroneDeploy, PrecisionHawk’s DataMapper, and Skycatch Commander (and dozens more) now run with the DJI SDK. Most of these started off with applications dedicated to their own drone but soon found that most professionals want to use the simpler and more reliable DJI prosumer-level and above drones.  Additionally, the prosumer drone category is the only place where sales volumes and margins are strong enough for manufacturers to recoup R&D investment with new technology like automated obstacle avoidance.

BOTTOM LINE:

We have written about the value, ROI, and potential of drones as aerial image and data capture devices in The Truth about Drones in Construction and Infrastructure Inspection. In that report, we discuss the benefits and challenges posed by the current state of drone data integration:

Drones and the data from drone data services do not provide a complete solution, and more likely than not, you’ll need to traverse a learning curve. For example, the firms mentioned in this paper had to set up new data integration workflows for their existing ecosystem of software solutions.  Those who used aerial images from drones to do BIM design work had to incorporate those images into CAD software like Autodesk REVIT.  Those who did work plans with images had to incorporate the images into project software like Navisworks.  Both camps had to learn how to manage daily workflows from constantly changing sets of new images.  Workflows needed to focus on how to both communicate and manage change – either in the feedback to design or in the feedback to production or to both at the same time.

To be fair, the apps in the new DroneDeploy App Market don’t solve all those problems, but they’re certainly a step in the right direction.

What’s next? I suspect we will see more workflow integration from DroneDeploy (and others) this year. They’ve hinted there’s more to come from their work with John Deere.  Personally, I’d like to see a complete automated workflow from DroneDeploy to SAP. Why? Because SAP software is used by 87% of the Forbes Global 2000 companies, and SAP customers produce 78% of the world’s food. SAP has an integrated suite of applications for just about everything that encapsulates aerial data and maps – from asset management to field service management.

DroneDeploy already has a beta release of an integration with Esri, which will allow users to analyze their DroneDeploy maps in ArcGIS Online.  SAP HANA users can integrate ArcGIS maps and SAP business data throughout SAP products, but I haven’t seen an end-to-end customer-specific use-case. If you are working on that, let me know—I’d love to hear about it.  You can write me at colin@droneanalyst.com.

Image credit: DroneDeploy

This post first appeared on DRONELIFE.com