Category Archives: News

770,000 drones have been registered with the FAA so far

Drones have come a long way in the past few years — and even months. Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta gave a “State of the industry” speech to provide updates on the FAA’s outlook on drones during a speech today at the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Symposium in Reston, VA.

“We’re ushering in a new age of American aviation: the unmanned aircraft era,” Huerta said in a prepared statement. “And it’s moving at a quicker pace than anything we’ve seen before.”

Here are some quick facts about the drone industry:

  • 770,000 drone registrations have been received in a little over 15 months
  • The B4UFly app, which the FAA created to let people know where it’s safe and legal to fly a drone, has been downloaded more than 200,000 times
  • As of March 21, the FAA had issued 37,579 remote pilot certificates

Huerta said the FAA is now ramping up to make the enormous amount of drones in the skies safer, as well as they are working on expanding operations so that unmanned aircraft can be flown over people, and beyond visual line of sight.

The FAA has now formed two groups —  the Drone Advisory Committee, and the Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team. It also recently launched an Aviation Rulemaking Committee to help create standards for remotely identifying and tracking unmanned aircraft during operations.

Layoffs hit drone-maker Yuneec, and could be as high as 70% of U.S. staff

It’s been a year of downsizing for the drone industry, and Typhoon drone maker Yuneec is the next to take a hit.

A spokesperson for the company confirmed on Friday that Yuneec laid off staff in its Americas division, as first reported by Gary Mortimer of SUAS News.

“After careful analysis of our 2016 results, we concluded that we upsized operations faster than our growth required,” according to a statement issued by Yuneec. “With much reflection, we made the difficult decision to scale back our business structure to a secure balance between operational costs and revenue.”

Because the company is privately held, Yuneec’s spokeswoman would not comment on how many people were cut, though Mortimer reported that the layoffs could be as many as 50 to 70% of staff. Continue reading Layoffs hit drone-maker Yuneec, and could be as high as 70% of U.S. staff

Ask Drone Girl: how do I even get started with drones?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about getting started with drones. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

I was wondering if you have any recommendations on where to start in learning about drones? I’m totally new to this, and looking for a maybe a new career change. What would be a good drone to get to start out, and where would you recommend getting a drone pilot license if I got that route?

-Nicole

Hey Nicole,

Welcome to the drone world! Rules are constantly changing, and it could be difficult to know where to look.

Here’s where I suggest you start:

  1. Buy a cheap, toy drone.  Never flown a drone before? Don’t just drop $1,000 on a quality drone. Buy a $30 drone to see how you like it. These drones can be hard to fly, but they’ll ensure you actually like flying. Mastering flying a cheap, toy drone, also ensures you’ll be a pro pilot by the time you get your fancy, advanced drone. You would way rather fly the $30 toy drone into the pool than your new DJI Mavic, right? Trust me, I’ve heard way too many stories of this happening. Here’s an excellent guide from UAV Coach explaining the basics of flying.
tdr spider
Learn to fly on something you can afford to crash, like this $25 TDR Spider drone.

2. Learn the rules. There are different rules depending on whether you intend to fly for hobby (you are simply flying to have fun) vs. for business (you are making money off your flying). The best site to get this information is on the Know Before You Fly site, which was created by AUVSI and the AMA in partnership with the Federal Aviation Administration. On this site, you’ll learn requirements about having to register your drone, the rules about where you can fly, and more.

These include things like: Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: how do I even get started with drones?

Drone sightings as reported to the FAA are up (and that’s not a bad thing)

The Federal Aviation Administration recently released its report of a drone sightings — and they are at an all-time high.

The FAA’s list, includes pilot, air traffic controller, law enforcement and citizen reports of potential encounters with drones.

The latest data, covering reports between February and September 2016, shows 1,274 possible drone sightings, vs. just 874 drone sightings for the same period in 2015.

It makes sense — as sales of drones rise, more drones have the potential to be spotted.

But the high number of drone sightings isn’t a bad thing. The FAA has yet to verify any collision between a civil aircraft and a civil drone.

“Every investigation has found the reported collisions were either birds, impact with other items such as wires and posts, or structural failure not related to colliding with an unmanned aircraft,” according to an FAA news release. Continue reading Drone sightings as reported to the FAA are up (and that’s not a bad thing)

This sensor turns a basic DJI drone into a precision agriculture platform

Sentera has been turning DJI drones into precision scouting tools that collect NDVI crop health data. And this month, the company announced its precision agriculture technology is compatible with the popular new DJI Mavic drone.

NDVI, the normalized difference vegetation index, is an important graphical indicator for farmers to analyze remote sensing measurements and assess whether the land contains live green vegetation or not. NDVI images may be able to prescribe fertilizer applications, estimate yields and identify weeds.

Sentera created a NDVI Single Sensor that integrates with DJI drones, including the Mavic, where it captures visual-band RGB, near-infrared (NIR) and normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) data and then interprets it in the field to detect problem areas and respond with action.  Continue reading This sensor turns a basic DJI drone into a precision agriculture platform

Postmates can now deliver you a drone

Postmates delivers most people food. But for the drone addicts of the world, it can bring you a drone.

Silicon Valley-based food delivery startup Postmates is partnering with drone rental startup Up Sonder to connect drone owners with people who want to rent those drones. Up Sonder also allows for deliveries through UberRUSH.

UpSonder allows customers to find a rent drones or services from users who do own a drone. Once a match has been made, Postmates will actually deliver the drone so the drone owner and renter don’t have to coordinate pickup times.

For Up Sonder users who live in places that don’t offer Postmates, the provider and renter will have to make their own arrangements to meet up and exchange the drone. Continue reading Postmates can now deliver you a drone

Why women are the future of the drone industry

Who runs the (drone) world? Girls!

I spoke with Inc. magazine about the drone industry in an article called “Why Women Are the Future of the Drone Industry.” I shared three of the top reasons why the future of drones is female. Read Inc.’s entire article here.

1. Women have been pioneering technology for a very long time.

“Ada Lovelace is credited as being the world’s first computer programmer — and that was back in the 1800s,” French notes. “Today, many of the pioneers in the drone industry are women. Helen Greiner, co-founder of the company that makes the Roomba robot vacuum cleaners, is now an executive at CyPhy works. Maria Stefanopoulos is a producer at Good Morning America and the person behind all the drone broadcasts on the show. Natalie Cheung with Intel was in charge of bringing drones to nighttime entertainment shows at Disney World. I could go on forever listing names of female pioneers in drones. Even one of TacoCopter’s founders, Star Simpson, is a woman — and that’s one of the drone applications people are most excited about today!” Continue reading Why women are the future of the drone industry

DJI is dominating the consumer drone industry, so which companies are left?

The following is an excerpt of a piece I wrote for MarketWatch. Read the entire story here. 

The consumer drone world is crashing.

In September, California drone company 3D Robotics laid off 150 members of its staff. Two months later, GoPro Inc. GPRO, -0.86%  announced it would lay off 200 employees after recalling its Karma drone because they were falling from the sky. Parrot SA PARRO, -0.82%  , which makes the Bebop drone, announced in January a plan to reduce its drone team of 840 employees by 290 people—about one-third. In January, the makers of Lily, a widely-hyped drone that never actually made it to market, announced they were calling it quits.

So what’s left? Mostly SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd., a private Chinese company that some analysts believe has a market share as high as 85%. DJI, with a valuation of $8 billion, says sales volume in 2015 was 100 times more than that of 2011. The company rose to popularity with its ready-to-fly Phantom drone, and recently introduced a wildly popular, foldable drone called the Mavic.

But there are other companies still fighting for the dwindling market share that DJI does not own. Mota Group Inc. hopes to go public with its lineup of cheaper drones. Yuneec International and Autel Robotics, both Chinese drone manufacturers, are solid contenders to hang on in the high-end drone fight with DJI, and they’re working to avoid or face down the many problems that damaged other competitors.

Read the rest of this story here.