The next in our series of Drone Girl profiles is with Heller Gregory, thepresident and chief pilot of GrandView Services (named after her grade school in Southern California), which provides aerial data for mapping, inspection, monitoring and maintenance.
What’s your business all about?
My husband has a soil engineering business in Walnut Creek, where he does landslide repair and grading. I had a pilot’s license. He thought it might be good to survey land with a drone. I mostly work on projects for his business, often where he repairs landslides in people’s backyards. I use 3D photogrammetry software to do the rendering and then monitor the photos for movement. Every couple months or so as they’re repairing it, I’ll conduct a flight and make sure there’s no movement. That offers a great view — there’s no other way of doing it.
What software and hardware do you use?
I’m using both Pix4D and ReCap 360 from Autodesk. As far as gear, I just have an IRIS+. I’m collecting the data with a GoPro, which is all I need. I don’t need the big expensive drone.
How did you get into drones?
I pretty much got into it because it seemed like a viable industry that’s coming up. I’ve always been pretty tech savvy and on top of the new technology that’s going on.
Chinese drone-maker DJI’s Phantom 3 Standard is an ideal drone for amateur to semi-professional photographers or filmmakers. It’s ready to fly out of the box and has the ability to record 2.7K video and 12-megapixel photos.
This flying camera boats a 4K, 3-axis stabilized camera with ultra-high-definition resolution that is four times higher than HD. The Typhoon Q500 4K also comes with a built-in video feed to the transmitter, allowing pilots to see what the drone sees from their handheld RC transmitter.
The Jet Jat Nano is the tiniest little drone I’ve ever seen.
Creatively and compactly packaged, everything you could possibly need to fly it fits in the RC transmitter, including the drone itself. The drone sits in a case inside the transmitter, which in itself is small enough to fit in a loose pocket.
It doesn’t have a camera on it, so this is purely for someone interested in having a drone just for the sake of flying it.
Flying it is a challenge, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As with most small drones, there’s no altitude hold, and the drone goes out of control with any minor movements. But for someone who wants to learn precision piloting, this may be the stocking stuffer for you. If you can master this little drone, you can master anything.
In fact, something like this is what I would recommend beginner pilots buy. There is no sense in throwing your brand new $1000 Phantom in the air that you got for Christmas with zero flying experience. I’ve heard of a lot of Phantoms end up in the pool or on the roof that way.
I love the idea of getting the hang of the controls on a $30 or $40 drone, and then progressing on to the real deal.
And for someone who just enjoys the thrill of flying, this will do that for you without requiring you to spend $1,000.
Drone powerhouse DJI looks set to dominate another drone sector in the commercial market, thermal imaging.
Chinese drone manufacturer DJI on Thursday announced a collaboration with Flir Systems Inc.FLIR, -0.61% an Oregon-based sensor manufacturer that focuses on thermal imaging. The two companies are building their first joint product called the Zenmuse XT.
Thermal imaging for drones is particularly useful for search and rescue, fire-fighting and agricultural purposes. A thermal-camera-equipped drone flying over the forest that picks up on a hot spot could indicate a person on the ground. Thermal cameras flying over a burning building that show a cool spot could indicate a safer entry point for firefighters. And farmers use thermal imaging as they fly over fields to indicate dry spots or over-watering.
The Zenmuse XT will be released in the first quarter of 2016 and will allow users to collect aerial images while in complete darkness and measure temperature.
The drone is mostly the same as the Bebop 1 but with technological improvements — an impressive 25 minutes of battery life — pretty much doubling the flight time of its predecessor.
The drone is easy to fly — able to maintain altitude and is easy enough for a kid to control. But it’s also a little more hoppy than counterparts like the smooth (and for some, arguably too slow) Yuneec Typhoon which could provide a layer of excitement for someone who finds joy in maneuvering the copter while in flight rather than just getting video footage.
I love the Bebop for taking on a vacation – at less than 18 ounces (about the weight of one and a half cans of coke), it’s incredibly light. But’s it’s powerful enough to fly at 37 mph horizontally, or 13 mph vertically. That means it takes less than 20 seconds to hit 328 feet.
And the video quality is solid — a fish-eye camera digitally stabilizes the HD video on a 3-axis framework, a type of digital gimbal.
The FAA expects 1 million drones to be sold this holiday season — and that inevitably means a lot of new pilots out there.
DARTdrones Flight School is offering a new two hour, indoor introductory course to drones and the industry, with classes scheduled through January around the country.
And now, you can save $25 off a course using coupon code “SANTACERTIFIED1.”
The course is a brief overview of all the things new drone pilots red to know – from FAA rules to equipment considerations to safety tips such as creating a flight log and emergency preparedness.
DARTdrones was created by CEO Abby Speicher, a serial entrepreneur who realized she needed drone training after a near-crash during a business pitching competition, where she was demoing drones to the judges.
“That’s the point I realized I needed a training course,” Speicher said. “And so we decided, ‘alright, let’s just make a drone training school.’”
From founding a luxury shoe company to making drones, French businessman and Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux is a serial entrepreneur.
Seydoux founded luxury goods company Christian Louboutin — the company famous for the iconic, red-soled pumps — a 3-D imaging company, and wireless products manufacturing company Parrot which makes everything from a self-watering flower pot to the Bebop drone.
With the launch of the $549 Parrot Bebop 2, the next generation of Parrot’s Bebop drone that can stay in the air twice as long as the former version, Seydoux is inching more into the drone world. Parrot acquired commercial drone company senseFly in 2012, and launched a new lineup of $99 “MiniDrones” earlier this year to target the toy market. Parrot’s drone revenues made up 57% of the company’s revenue for the third quarter of 2015.
Seydoux offered up some advice on business, investing, drones, and his biggest money mistake:
Drone Girl: You’re well-known for founding Christian Louboutin, the company that makes the luxury, red-soled shoes. How do you go from selling shoes to selling drones?
Henri Seydoux: Shoes were a friendship. Christian Louboutin (the designer behind the company) was a friend. With drones, it’s a completely different market, but in the end, they’re consumer products. You’re selling an end-product to a user, and I’m always trying to find innovative products.
Drone Girl: [Parrot] was really the first company to manufacture consumer-oriented, ready-to-fly drones. What struck you about the idea of manufacturing drones?
Seydoux: It was really about the idea that you can turn telecoms into toys. Ten years ago it would be crazy to have a camera on a phone, and the first cameras were so bad. But now, we’re putting cameras in the sky. I’m just always looking for the craziest ideas. The thing is, for me, they’re not crazy.