Drone accelerator Genius NY looking to invest in drone startups

Genius NY, a drone-focused business accelerator with nearly $3 million to invest, is looking for its second-round of startups to fund.

The accelerator is accepting applications between now and Oct. 1, and it will choose six startups to invest in.

This year, Genius NY is especially focused on investing in women-owned drone startups.

“Last year, out of the 250 applications, only two were women-owned businesses,” said Director of Genius NY Jon Parry. “We felt like it wasn’t a problem in the selection process — it was in the application process. We would love to have diversity on our teams.”

Women have historically been absent from executive teams at the major drone companies — and that could be a problem. Consumers have complained that FPV goggles are too big and slide off their heads — likely because smaller people haven’t been involved in the design process. Many drone companies have assumed women wouldn’t be interested in their products and ignored them in their marketing efforts, leading to a major loss in potential sales.

Kara Alheim, GENIUS NY Content and Marketing Manager flies a drone with GENIUS NY
finalist SkyOp, a drone training company who won $250,000 from the program. Applications for GENIUS NY 2.0 are open until October 1, 2017. Courtesy Genius NY

Women account for $4.3 trillion of total U.S. consumer spending of $5.9 trillion, according to The Atlantic, making women the largest single economic force not just in the United States, but in the world.

And Genius NY hopes their investments will pay off.

The accelerator is looking to invest in either hardware or software startups, but Parry predicts that software is the future. Continue reading Drone accelerator Genius NY looking to invest in drone startups

Chime is next real estate company to make a bet on drones

The next time you buy or sell a home, a drone might be involved.

The market for drones in real estate is projected to hit $68 million in the U.S. and $265 million globally, according to a 2016 report from Goldman Sachs.

And today, real estate operating system developer Chime announced its leap into the drone world.

The real estate startup announced its exclusive U.S. real estate distribution rights with Simtoo, the creator of the Dragonfly and Moment drones. Simtoo’s Moment drone has covered blades, designed to fly indoors, and also has facial recognition technology.

With Chime, a new piece of software is designed to enable agents to give virtual tours of homes, live streaming the homes to a Facebook page or listing-specific site for interested buyers.

The idea is that the drones would prevent buyers from feeling pressure to attend open houses, and allow sellers the chance to offer just “drone open houses” so strangers don’t have to enter their homes.

Drones have been used for years in exterior real estate photography, and they’re increasingly being used in interiors too. DJI’s newest drone, the Spark, performs just as well indoors as outdoors, appealing to agents looking to fly drones to give clients tours. The DJI Spark also allows for live streaming to Facebook.

Back in 2015, real estate agent Douglas Trudeau became the first real estate agent to receive legal clearance from the Federal Aviation Administration to be able to fly drones commercially, receiving a 333 exemption to fly a Phantom 2 Vision + quadcopter.

And a myriad of companies like LuxQue and Above Summit promote their drones as a form of real estate marketing.

The National Association of Realtors has even set up a resource page to help realtors learn about the government’s drone regulations.

For the record, all pilots need to get a Part 107 license to use drones for commercial purposes. For more information on the Part 107 license and testing process, click here.

Ask Drone Girl: how do I build a recreational drone park?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about building a recreational drone park. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

Some partners and I are looking to build a recreational drone flying park in the state of Delaware. Are there any specifications for something like this? Any architects in this area? Thanks in advance for your help.

This sounds like fun! Recreational drone parks are a fairly new development. Unlike sports that have specifications as to the size of the field or court, or requirements as to the height of something like a basket, drones are the wild west and there really are no standards as to what a drone park should look like. Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: how do I build a recreational drone park?

EAA 2017: Here is all the drone mania you missed

EAA AirVenture Oshkosh just wrapped up — and there was more for dronies to see than ever before — including a peek at Amazon Drones.

EAA AirVenture is the world’s largest air show, and it focuses on all things aviation, from traditional planes to homebuilt planes to skydiving.  590,000 people attended EAA this year a five percent increase over 2016. The airshow saw 17,223 aircraft operations in the day day period from July 21-30 for an average of 123 takeoffs or landings per hour.

Related read: Check out my EAA Airventure live tour from 2016

Amazon Prime Air drones took the center stage at the event.

And it turns out, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos was even at the event — but not particularly for drones. Bezos was in Oshkosh to talk about Blue Origin, his other company that is working on space travel.

Human-carrying drones made their EAA debut this year. Ohio-based company Workhorse displayed its Surefly manned drone — a two passenger octocopter that is expected to fly at about 70 miles per hour. The drone wasn’t flying though; the drone is still in development but is expected to be flying by 2019 at a cost of $200,000 per drone.

In the realm of drones, EAA visitors were treated to a glimpse of  Google CEO Larry Page’s Kitty Hawk. Kitty Hawk is the startup backed by Page that is working to create a form of personal transport that travels in the air. Its vehicle, called the Flyer, is a sort of hoverbike with drone-style propellers that can takeoff and land vertically, like most drones.

Most of the drone action occurred in the main drone exhibit, which included demos of drones such as the DJI Mavic Pro and an obstacle speed course.

Of course, my friends from Women and Drones were in attendance this year too — with some great swag!

Were you at EAA? Let me know your favorite part in the comments below!

DJI Spark gets new photo and video features with firmware update

Got a DJI Spark? DJI today launched a new firmware update to add new ways you can take photos and videos.

The new firmware update includes a new gesture to start and stop video recording, an enhanced “QuickShot” video feature and a mode for 180-degree photo shooting.

Related read: DJI Spark Review: An amazing, low-cost drone (90% of the time)

The new gesture to start and stop video recording involves an arm movement that is performed like this: Continue reading DJI Spark gets new photo and video features with firmware update

Ask Drone Girl: I think my ex is stalking me via drone

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drone stalking, and identifying the drone pilot. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

Dear Drone Girl, I believe my ex is stalking me via drone. I have multiple pictures from my security cameras. How can I check to see if he is registered for flying UAS or has registered to fly UAS?

Yikes, that is scary! Drone stalking is interesting. They are loud and large so they are actually pretty noticeable. Clearly you noticed them. The tricky thing though is it can be difficult to identify the pilot. Is it just a neighbor kid flying their gadget? Or in your case, is it an ex stalking you?

The Federal Aviation Administration once had a rule that all drone pilots had to register, but that was struck down in May. There is now no law requiring drone pilots to register. And even if they were required to, the database only publicly shows zip code and city of the registered pilots.  The FAA does not post the names and street addresses of registered owners because the data is exempt from disclosure under a FOIA exemption that protects information in agency files from a clearly unwarranted invasion of personal privacy. Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: I think my ex is stalking me via drone

There’s a drone industry research survey — and you could win a DJI Spark

Got opinions on drones? Of course you do!

My friend and drone data expert Colin Snow of Skylogic Research is looking for people to participate in his latest survey, “Who’s Buying Drones, Using Drone Software and Why?”

The survey is 7-8 minutes long and can be taken here. People who take the survey will receive a free summary report of the research results (a $95 value) and can enter to win a free DJI Spark drone or one of two $100 Visa gift cards.

The survey seeks opinions about your experiences buying and using drones and is designed for those who have purchased drones, used drone software, offer drone service, or use drone services.

Results will be available in September, and you can guarantee we’ll share them right here on The Drone Girl!

FPV for kids: how young is too young to fly FPV, and is FPV bad for your eyes?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about FPV for kids. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

How young can kids fly FPV? Is it bad for the eyes? I’m interested in my son, who is 10 years old, getting into flying FPV.


Hey Ryan,

Of course kids can fly  FPV! In fact, some of the best FPV pilots in the world are kids!

I reached to some friends who are competitive FPV champions, as well as some friends who are drone pilots and parents, to help answer your question in detail.

For starters, as FPV pilot Jessika ‘Dronehart’ points out, Ashton Gamble, who goes by the pilot name “Drobot Racer” is 11 years old, and British teen Luke Bannister was just 13 when he won the $250,000 grand prize at the inaugural World Drone Prix in Dubai.

Lorie Grabham, president of the Saguaro chapter of AUVSI, got her daughter into flying at age 10, while Amelia Droneharts founder Rhianna Lakin said her kids have been flying with her since age 5.

“FPV doesn’t have an age limit,” she said. “I think the biggest issue is they probably need mentoring.”

Razan Alzayani/Bloomberg

As far as your question about the impact on eyesight — that’s a valid concern. I reached out to Hexinair creator and champion drone racer Zoe Stumbaugh, who calls herself an ‘HMD (that’s head-mounted display) nerd’ and has taught pilots as young as 9 years old.

She said that the amount of exposure is key. Since drone racers are relatively short — under 5 minutes, that small amount of exposure doesn’t have a significant impact.

Here was Stumbaugh’s response:

“It’s pretty much all about interpupillary distance and strain using goggles. Kids aren’t fully grown and tend to have a smaller IPD that falls out of the normal range of most goggles. 63-69mm is industry standard for the most part,” she said.

“In theory long exposure to use of micro-display goggles with improper IPD could cause problems, like hours of exposure at a time over a prolonged period of time of months/years. Funny enough, using a proper IPD goggle over time could alleviate any vision issues created from improper IPD, and may be a way of treating lazy eye and a few other eye disorders.”

You may want to look into a single screen and a Fresnel lens, allowing both eyes no matter their distance to focus on a single screen. Stumbaugh recommends checking out the VR007‘s or the nicer FatShark Transformers, which have options for binocular view and monocular viewers. Bonus points: they’re cheaper than other FPV goggles!

Looking to get into drone racing? Here’s a great starter kit.

Happy flying!


Drone Girl

Reporting on drones, sometimes with drones