Category Archives: News

How to make money on your aerial photography service

For Canada’s Alex Wright, a first tier DJI distributor, it’s not as tough a question as you would think.

Wright focuses on wholesale and helping entrepreneurs and small businesses get into selling drones. His online store, Drone Depot, is one of the largest in Canada. And his advice to people looking to sell drones or their aerial photography services?

Focus on a niche market.

“Rather than have a huge list of services and a crazy demo reel, show you’re an expert in one specific field,” Wright said in a talk at the International Drone Day in Las Vegas, Nevada. The market is going to get super saturated really quickly when the FAA opens up those regulations.”

That’s exactly what Wright did when the industry started opening up in Canada. Continue reading How to make money on your aerial photography service

Casting call for BBC drone show

Hey Drone Girls!

Do you live in the UK and love drones? The BBC is working on a new series about drones, and is working on casting now!

“It’s a factual entertainment show but as it’s the BBC it will be educational and informative too,” said Casting Producer Vicky Crawley. “Part of the show will take teams of 3 people from the drone community and we will see them building and modifying their own multirotors to compete in a challenge we set them – the first challenge will be a FPV race.”

If you want to be a part of it, here’s the casting information: BBC show about multirotors drones   sallyannfrench gmail.com   Gmail

High school drone project could save lives in water

32a2494d828a5a01fe093b3aee03bd80_originalFive seniors at King Low Heywood Thomas High School in Stamford, Connecticut won’t be going to class during the month of May.

Instead, they’ll be building something that could save your life, and it’s made possible by a drone.

It’s called Project Ryptide, and it’s an automatically inflating life preserver ring that snaps onto your drone. Lifeguards with the Ryptide attachment and life preserver would be able to snap it on within a few seconds, fly over to a swimmer in trouble, and deliver them a life preserver.

And it’s not just lifeguards who could use this. In fact, Piedra said this may come in most handy in places where there is no lifeguard.

“Any casual person going to the beach can bring their drone, and now they can be a sort of lifeguard,” said the project’s leader Bill Piedra. “They could deliver a personal flotation device and keep the person’s head above water.”

It’s not uncommon to see drones flying around beaches, operated by hobbyists wanting to take pictures. Continue reading High school drone project could save lives in water

Drone-company funding may jump on FAA decision

The following piece is an excerpt from an article I wrote for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

The Federal Aviation Administration unveiled new proposed rules this week for the operation of commercial drones.

Until now, the use of drones was essentially banned unless the operator applied for a Section 333 permit, which requires a licensed pilot and a cumbersome process of about 120 days.

Under the new guidelines, drones could legally fly for commercial purposes if they travel below 500 feet during daylight hours and within sight of the operator, and as long as the pilot is age 17 or older and has passed a written test.

The rules would “provide probably the most flexible regime for unmanned aircraft, 55 pounds or less, that exists anywhere in the world,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said on a conference call on Sunday.

And with more flexible rules regarding commercial drones, some predict funding for drone startups will skyrocket. Funding for such enterprises has already increased 104% year-over-year, according to data from CB Insights.

CB Insights

 

“The time is now for investors to allow the drone industry to grow, especially drone-integration companies focused on providing whole solutions for organizations unfamiliar with the market,” said Vinny Capobianco, the co-founder of Flyspan Systems, a drone startup that provides systems-integration services.

Capobianco’s company is among the recent explosion of startups focused on advancing drones. Capobianco has spent the past year working on the commercial side, including projects that involve film, security and agriculture. His company recently opened a seed round of funding.

“A new age of aviation has begun that will accelerate rapidly over the next few years,” he said.

Between 2010 and 2012, there were fewer than five venture-capital deals with drone companies, according to CB Insights. Now, there are at least 10 companies with Series A funding or more.

“We’re clearly at the very beginning of a really big commercial opportunity. I’m not sure that we see unleashing of demand in the wake of the FAA’s proposed regulations. Rather, the demand for commercial uses seems like something that will steadily grow in the coming months and years,” said Eric Norlin of SK Ventures, which has backed companies such as drone manufacturer 3D Robotics and aerial-robotics platform Skycatch.

CB Insights

 

The world’s largest drone manufacturer, DJI, which generated 2013 sales of $130 million, said it is in talks with new investors for funding, according to a Bloomberg News report. The Chinese drone maker said its sales tripled last year and that the company is worth “significantly more” than the $1.6 billion valuation it received last year.

The following piece is an excerpt from an article I wrote for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

Florida high school offers “Drone Team Pink” UAV program

After the closing school bell at Choctawhatchee High School rings, the track team whizzes by the field. Overhead, something’s whirring.

It’s a drone, and it’s being operated by someone like 16-year-old sophomore Dharbi Jens or 17-year-old senior Jojo Parrett.

“My friends on the track team run by and see us flying and say, ‘wow, can I give it a go?’”, Jens said. “I think they’re pretty jealous.”

Photo courtesy of Sean McSheehy
Photo courtesy of Sean McSheehy

It’s something any adult who has a drone now would be jealous of: Choctawhatchee High School has its own drone team called Drone Team Pink.

The high school is one of a handful in the nation that offers private pilot training, engineering, and aviation legislation and regulation.

The group is led by Sean McSheehy, who teaches an Intro to Aviation course for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide at the Fort Walton, Florida high school, which allows high school students to get college credit. Drone Team Pink meets for about two hours once a week and is specifically focused on getting young women involved in STEM education while providing opportunities for students of all levels to fly drones.

“Women aren’t really represented in the STEM field,” Jens said. “We had a 3D printer in our school, and it’s just so fun flying drones.”

Some of the students were involved in 3D printing process, and they fly drones down at the soccer field with McSheehy.

“It’s a lot of hands-on work,” Jens said.

Senior Dana Heintzelman, 18, was involved in the 3D printing process.

“In our engineering department, we have 3D printers. You need to have a model and all the dimensions of what you’re trying to print,” she said. “A prop guard for DJI took about 2.5 hours.”

Oh, and the airframes were made using pink filament. Continue reading Florida high school offers “Drone Team Pink” UAV program

How a drone created the first high res 3D model of Christ the Redeemer in Rio

Photo: Pix4D and Aeryon Labs
Photo: Pix4D and Aeryon Labs

How do you map and model a 38 meter tall statue that’s located atop a 700 meter tall mountain? The obvious solution is LIDAR, a remote sensing technology that collects 3-dimensional point clouds of the Earth’s surface.

But with a statue so large and situated in a difficult to access location, it was a seemingly impossible task.

That’s until a team of engineers and drone pilots — along with the Aeryon UAV platform and Pix4D’s image processing software proved them wrong by mapping the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janerio, said to be Brazil’s most important monument.

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Photo: Pix4D and Aeryon Labs

“Creating the first ever accurate 3D model of such a renowned statue with our software is a great way to showcase how image processing technology can achieve results that traditional technologies haven’t been able to produce,” said Christoph Strecha, CEO and Founder of Pix4D. “With its intricate detail, the statue was also a perfect structure to test out our new 3D textured mesh.”

But even with a drone, collecting the data is not easy.

Piloted by Aeryon Labs’ April Blaylock the drone was constricted by weather and wind conditions at the mountain’s high altitude, while also restricted by specific daylight hours due to shadows that caused inconsistent lighting conditions.

When captured, 2,090 images were converted into a 3D model by Pix4D’s Lisa Chen.4qlLEpzseoaXHxc2sDtDc_wVYYORsDKIVHmFQPxD8sw

The team also included Sonja Betschart, CMO of Pix4D, Lisa Chen, Celso Santos and Benoit Brot.

Some crazy numbers:

  • 2,090: the number of images used to created the 3D model
  • 2.5 million: the number of triangles with a texture of 16374X16384 used for the mesh
  • 6: number of days it took to acquire the images
  • 19: number of 10-minute flights it took to acquire the images
  • 2: number of weeks it took for the 3D reconstruction
  • 38: height of the Christ the Reedemer statue (in meters)
  • 28: armspan of the Christ the Reedemer statue (in meters)

The project will eventually be used by Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro.

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“This project took years of waiting by the NEXT lab team and many months of planning and collaboration across several time zones to pull the technologies together in Rio,” commented Dave Kroetsch, Aeryon’s President and CEO. “We are pleased to have participated and that the Aeryon UAV platform was instrumental in creating the first accurate 3D model of the Christ the Redeemer monument.”

Watch it all on video below:

Can’t hire enough waiters at your restaurant? Hire a drone

The following piece is an excerpt from an article I wrote for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

MW-DF395_infini_20150211185454_ZH-1Singapore restaurant chain Timbre Group has made some new additions to its waitstaff, and unlike their colleagues, the fresh hires can fly and don’t earn wages.

Infinium Robotics’ drones are due to be introduced at the restaurant chain by the end of the year, carrying up to 4.4 pounds of food and drink each, according to the BBC. The airborne, unpiloted robots will deliver food within the restaurant by swooping over the heads of diners on paths charted by a computer program, using infra-red sensors placed around the restaurant.

Infinium says the drones will be able to free up staff members to focus more on interacting with customers or other tasks that require higher-level thinking. It’s especially important in Singapore, where the country’s food-and-beverage industry lacks nearly 7,000 people.

“The food-and-beverage (F&B) sector is plagued by a severe shortage of workers,” according to a report from Singapore’s Ministory of Trade and Industry. “Many seemed to attribute this to the low profile of the industry, long and irregular working hours, as well as the negative connotation associated with an F&B service staff.”

It’s a similar situation in the U.S., where the 2012 average annual salary for waiters and waitresses was $18,590, according to the American Job Center. And it’s not easy for the U.S. restaurants to find waiters either: Nearly 43% of open jobs in the food-service industry remain unfilled for longer than three months, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Could U.S. establishments benefit from drone waiters?

“Robots can shift tasks away from humans, and we can do the higher cognitive functions,” said Jonathan Rupprecht, a commercial pilot and practicing lawyer. “Robots can’t do art, can’t mix drinks. They can’t put garnishments on food. You can spend more money on the chef, then free him up with robots that can work long hours.”

The price for the Infinium Robotics drone is not publicly available, but Rupprecht says high-tech drones such as ones used for detection by bomb squads can cost more than $100,000. The DJI Spreading Wings S1000 costs about $3,600.

“But you’re not going to have to pay income taxes or health insurance to robots,” Rupprecht said. “It takes a lot of problems off the table from a business standpoint.”

Singapore has been working to find technological solutions to solve its labor shortage. A Singapore tax credit launched in 2010, the Productivity and Innovation Credit Scheme, allows businesses to get a 400% tax deduction of up to $400,000 for qualifying expenditures.

Read the rest of this article on MarketWatch.com.

Hover mobile app tells you where you can and can’t fly drones

hover app
Photo/Hover

Dan Held more or less fits the mold of your Silicon Valley entrepreneur.

He always want to fly model planes as a kid, but they were just too expensive. He speaks with a barely noticeable Texas “y’all.” He moved to San Francisco, where his full-time job is with a bitcoin startup. That’s on-top of a bursting resume of other startups and mobile apps that he created in his free-time.

His San Francisco apartment is filled with two DJI Phantoms, some cheap toy drones and homemade FPV racing drones. The FPV drones belong to his roommate, Kevin Johnson, a software developer. Held says his roommate is the reason his latest startup, Hover, exists.

“Kevin bought a Phantom II Vision+,” Held said. “We take it out usually on weekends to Golden Gate Park and do loops around the racing field.”

But they noticed things missing when they flew: a timer to know how long you had been flying. Weather data. News. Knowledge of whether or not you can legally fly in that area.

“We really liked drones, but there wasn’t an app filling our needs,” Held said.

Like most business deals in the Silicon Valley startup world begin, the two roommates, Held and Johnson, merged their skill sets. Johnson is the engineer, and Held is the marketing, design and “idea” guy.

Together, they created Hover, an app for iOS and recently released for Android. Continue reading Hover mobile app tells you where you can and can’t fly drones