Category Archives: News

Drone companies invest in yet more drone companies

This is an excerpt from a piece originally written for Read the entire story here.

Chinese-drone manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co. isn’t just the world’s largest maker of consumer drones — they’ve become a drone investor too.

Privately held DJI and venture-capital firm Accel Partners on Wednesday launched SkyFund, a $10 million investment vehicle geared toward drone start-ups.

The fund is intended to invest in companies that create industry-specific software applications for drones, such as those involving mapping, imaging, agriculture and inspection.

“SkyFund was created to develop new and amplify existing technology from around the world by championing developers and sparking a sense of curiosity about unmanned vehicles and services,” said Eric Cheng, general manager for San Francisco and director of aerial imaging at DJI.

“Hundreds of developers already use DJI’s platform, and SkyFund enables us to fund developers and businesses that imagine new opportunities,” Cheng said.

But they’re not the only big-time drone company that wants to invest in other drone companies.

Airware, Silicon Valley’s most heavily venture-capital-backed drone start-up launched a similar investment fund Wednesday, the Commercial Drone Fund, which will make investments of between $250,000 and $1 million each over the next two to three years. Airware has raised $40.4 million in five funding rounds, according to CrunchBase.

The Commercial Drone Fund is investing in technologies such as sensor hardware, which would improve the precision and speed of commercial drones, and software applications that could make operating drones safer or provide more innovative uses for drones.

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There’s an iPhone app to manage your flight logs


Mobile application Hover has been on the scene since 2014 as a “one-stop shop” drone application on the iTunes and Android app store.’

Now it’s got an update: flight logs.

“The new flight log feature automatically pulls data from your phone like location, time, and weather data,” according to a news release. “The pilot simply enters the location name, other technical flight details, and then the log is saved locally and e-mailed to the user.”

Previous versions of the free app also feature a flight readiness dashboard, real-time weather, an aggregated news feed and a no-fly zone feature.

“It’s the one stop solution for drone hobbyists,” co-founder Dan Held said. Continue reading There’s an iPhone app to manage your flight logs

Drones are turning into flying billboards

MW-DJ277_drone__20150407154847_ZHThis article was originally for Read the whole thing here.

Call it drone-vertising.

Drones have already been used for delivering packages, serving as waiters and photographing sporting events. The next wave of uses for drones? Flying billboards.

“People are fascinated with the concept,” said Eugene Stark, founder of Hoovy, a company that hangs banners from three to six foot wide drones and flies them over events and businesses.

And there’s money to be made.

“When I first started, the idea was to fly for $100 a day,” said Raj Singh, founder of DroneCast, a drone advertising business that launched in April 2014. “We got large offers for $25,000 for 4 hours.”

His client list includes Sony Corp.  and Dave and Buster’s Entertainment, Inc. He has also worked with the NFL and music festivals to live stream games and shows.

Drones have advantages over that other form of flying advertisement — blimps. Namely, they are smaller and thus significantly more nimble.

“We can fly lower to the ground and we don’t have to be as high as a blimp,” Stark said. “We can fly where the traditional advertising platforms cannot.”

Drone-based advertising still can’t compete with the sheer size of a blimp, or even a large billboard. Hoovy and DroneCast both say their banners are about 6 feet wide. The Goodyear blimp, to compare, is 246 feet long.

“We don’t get as many views as the blimp,” Stark said. “But the people that see the drone are more engaged with the advertising.”


Even before Hoovy, Stark was no stranger to drones. He previously worked on the business team for a robotics project at Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

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DJI’s new ‘Phantom’ drone streams real time through YouTube Live

This is an excerpt of a piece originally written for Read the full story here. Phantom 3

Chinese-drone manufacturer SZ DJI Technology Co., Ltd. has come a long way since they released their first ready-to-fly drone, the Phantom, in January 2013.

The company, best known as DJI, on Wednesday announced the Phantom 3, a drone that integrates with YouTube Live to stream aerial footage in near real time. It comes in two variations, the Phantom 3 Professional ($1,259) and Phantom 3 Advanced ($999).
The Phantom 3 model is a huge leap for drone technology, matching the $2,899 Inspire 1 drone that DJI announced in 2014 in terms of technical specifications, but closer matching its predecessor, the $1,099 Phantom 2 Vision+ in cost and aesthetic.

The Phantom 3 controller comes integrated with DJI’s Lightbridge technology, which allows the drone operator to see what the drones camera is seeing at 1080p at 60 frames per second. It also is stabilized with a 3-axis gimbal. The three pound drone has 23 minutes of flight time and can fly at a maximum altitude of 6,000 meters above sea level.Phantom 3 - Remote 2

The difference between the Professional and Advanced model lies in the video quality; the Phantom 3 Professional is capable of shooting 4K video at up to 30 frames per second, while the Phantom 3 Advanced records at 1080p at 60 frames per second.

The drone also integrates with the DJI Pilot app, which comes with a flight simulator for operators to virtually practice flying and a ‘Director’ feature, which automatically edits shots from flights into short videos that can be shared instantly.

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How drones proved themselves a powerful tool for search and rescue

Courtesy S.W.A.R.M.
Courtesy S.W.A.R.M.

Eric Garcia went missing in California 2013.

The search area for him was 40 miles along. Officials argued over whose jurisdiction is was, and the search was losing resources.

That’s when Garcia’s fiancé called their friend Jim Bowers, a full-time artist and drone hobbyist of 15 years.

“She asked me, ‘could you use my drone to help find Eric?’” Bowers said during a speech at International Drone Day in Las Vegas, Nevada. “I didn’t know what to say. I had never used a drone for search and rescue before, but I couldn’t say no.”

Bowers spent 4 days flying all over cliff faces, canyons and the road Garcia had been supposedly driving on.

“We kept using my drones to look back on the cliff faces,” he said.

The drone was able to help search team narrow down the area to 4 miles, sending out four people on motorcycles to continue the search.

The search led Bowers to start a network of volunteers to carry out search and rescue missions like this one, but on an international scale.

His organization? It’s called S.W.A.R.M. (Search With Aerial RC Multi-rotor). It’s a network where anyone qualified with a drone that had FPV capabilities could use the network to volunteer their time and search for missing people.

S.W.A.R.M. now has over 3,000 volunteer pilots in 54 countries around the world. The organization runs as a volunteer only network and does not operate through any law enforcement or emergency agencies.

Bowers’ first-ever drone search and rescue mission eventually found Garcia.

“He had come up on I-80, slid off the freeway and hit a tree,” Bowers said. Continue reading How drones proved themselves a powerful tool for search and rescue

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