Category Archives: News

Hundreds of drones will fly in Lady Gaga’s FAA-approved halftime show

Some people watch the Super Bowl for the football. Many watch it for the commercials. As for me? I’ll be watching today for the drones.

Lady Gaga’s Super Bowl halftime show will feature hundreds — yes, hundreds — of lit-up drones, according to CNN.

People in the Houston area caught a glimpse of rehearsals earlier this week. Continue reading Hundreds of drones will fly in Lady Gaga’s FAA-approved halftime show

Going to the Super Bowl? Leave your drones at home

Here’s your annual reminder: the Super Bowl is a No Drone Zone.

The Federal Aviation Administration sent out a public service announcement reminding people that the airspace around NRG Stadium in Houston is a No Drone Zone for the Super Bowl.

This year’s Temporary Flight Restriction will prohibit drones from flying within a 34.5-mile radius of NRG Stadium in downtown Houston, Texas on game day. The restrictions will be in effect from 4 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5. Continue reading Going to the Super Bowl? Leave your drones at home

How Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park is using drones

If you’re hiking in Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park, look up.

The National Park Service staff is working to visualize and document the park’s natural resources for protection purposes. And to do that, they’re using drones. The park’s staff partnered with UAS Colorado in October 2016 to produce a a one-square mile map of a portion of the park.

Great Sand Dunes National Park
Aerial view of the Great Sand Dunes National Park

Continue reading How Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes National Park is using drones

Lyela Mutisya hopes drones can save Kenya’s coffee industry

Lyela Mutisya is a senior at Lewis University in Illinois, studying Aviation Administration. She’s got her sights set far beyond graduation day, and how she can use drones to eventually help her father’s coffee farm in Kenya.

Do you know an awesome drone girl I should profile? Contact me here.

Drone Girl: What’s your drone story, and what got you into it?

Lyela Mutisya: I took a course in fall of 2015 called Introduction into Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Before that, I had no idea about prevision agriculture or search and rescue applications for drones; I only knew about military applications. My professor started talking about all the things you could use drones for.

Lyela Mutisya drone girl coffee kenya
Photo by Mervyn John

DG: Heh, that sort of sounds like my story! I also took a drone course in school — pretty much because it was the only thing that fit in my schedule. So tell me how coffee comes into play.

LM: The year before I had traveled to Kenya and found out my dad had a coffee farm. I was excited to find out one day that coffee farm would be mine, but also dismayed to find out he makes just 20 cents a pound of coffee. I thought, ‘I have to do something about this.’

They can’t afford fertilizer, which is one of the critical inputs in coffee production. A well-managed coffee farm can produce up to 30 pounds of coffee per tree, but a coffee farm that can’t afford fertilizer produces more like 5 pounds of coffee per tree.

In Kenya right now, the coffee production has declined. In 1988 they produced 130,000 tons. Now it’s under 50,000 tons of coffee. Kenya is known for its quality of coffee and it saddens me that they aren’t making profit.

I thought, ‘What if we used drones in coffee farms to help them manage fertilizer? If the coffee farm is well managed, they can produce quality cherries and make more money.’ I thought, ‘I could definitely do this.’

Drone technology is effective at collecting data to help coffee farmers improve crop health. They can have a role in efficient crop scouting, earlier yield predictions, earlier crop stress detection, enhanced irrigation management and control, and more precise nutrient and chemical applications.

Pest and decision control is very important in coffee farming. Pests can cause an 80% loss in coffee trees. That alone can significantly hurt a coffee farm. If a tree were to get infected and lose 80% of their crop, a drone can help prevent that. Continue reading Lyela Mutisya hopes drones can save Kenya’s coffee industry

Measure raises $15 million toward drone service business

The past 12 months have been a year of consolidation for the drone hardware world. Major drone makers including GoPro, Parrot and 3D Robotics have announced layoffs, while funding to drone-related companies has seen a drop-off.

There was $55 million invested in eight VC deals for the drone industry in the third quarter of 2016, compared with $134 million invested in 12 VC deals in the third quarter of 2015.

But one area that’s still growing is in the software and service side of the drone industry. Measure, a drone service operator, is one of the companies leading that way. The startup today announced a $15 million Series B funding round with LionTree Advisors acting as the financial advisor. Measure’s last investment round was in September of 2015.

Measure is a startup that has built out a national network of licensed pilots. The pilots are trained to  acquire, process, and deliver aerial data to enterprise customers for projects such as cell tower inspections, construction development, precision agriculture, disaster response and live media coverage. Its mantra is, “We don’t make drones. We make drones work.”

Measure’s pilots flew more than 1,100 flights throughout 2016 — that’s about three flights a day.

Measure is part of a growing group of drone companies that are focusing on commercial applications of drones. Drone data management platform DroneDeploy raised $20 million in a Series B deal in August. Earlier in 2016, Airware announced a $30 million Series C round to sell complete drone solutions to major companies, from drone hardware, the software to control them, and the cloud where their data goes.

2016 was the year that consumer drone companies consolidated. But 2017 may just be the year that commercial drone companies start growing.

Lily drone company shuts down two years after pre-orders opened (without delivering any drones)

The much-hyped Lily drone, the tiny, waterproof drone that seemingly could fly right out of your hands, has reached its end.

The drone’s founders, Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow, sent out an email to backers on Wednesday announcing that the company was shutting down.

The company never shipped any drones, despite pre-orders opening up two years ago.

Here is the complete text of the email: Continue reading Lily drone company shuts down two years after pre-orders opened (without delivering any drones)

Save $10 on all Drone Girl hoodies and sweatshirts

How cute is this amazing woman? That’s my mom! I guess you could call her Drone Mom!

Anyway, since she is rocking a Quad Squad hoodie in the Missouri snow, I wanted to share the love with all of you.

Now through January 31, get $10 off ALL hoodies and jackets from the Drone Girl shop using coupon code “Hoodies10”.

That means you can get your own “I Fly Like A Girl” hoodie, “Quad Squad” hoodie (modeled by my mom) or “We Can Fly It” raglan sweater.

Visit the Drone Girl shop here.

Stay warm, everybody!

Parrot will lay off 290 people — 1/3 of its drone staff

This is an excerpt of a story originally written for Marketwatch.com. Read the entire story here.

2016 was a rough year for the consumer drone industry — and French electronics company Parrot is the latest to announce it took a hit.

Parrot, which makes the Bebop consumer drone and recently launched the Disco fixed wing  drone, announced Monday a plan to reduce its drone team of 840 employees by 290 people — about one-third. 150 positions would be cut from its headquarters in France, along with other positions around the world, according to its most recent earnings report.

Parrot reported fourth-quarter revenues of $89.8 million, below its target of $105.7 million. Drones generated $63.4 million in revenue for the company, which also manufacturers headphones and smart devices including flower pots. Parrot said it is targeting 10% growth for its drone business in 2017 with a goal to break even on operation costs.

Parrot isn’t the only company to announce layoffs. GoPro announced in 2016 that it would lay off 200 employees following the recall of its Karma drone, after some customers reported that the drones were losing power and falling from the sky. GoPro has since said it will resume Karma sales, but has not said when they will return to market.

A few months prior to the GoPro news, 3D Robotics, laid off 150 members of its staff. At its peak, the company had employed more than 350 people.