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Capitalize on the Value of Data and Learn to Use Professional Drone Mapping Software: An Interview with Angad Singh, Pix4D Trainer

Over the past year, the drone industry has sharpened its focus on drone software, as opposed to drone hardware, as the main driver of market growth. According to Pix4D trainer Angad Singh, the real value of the drone industry lies not in the drone itself, but in the data drones can collect.

So how do you go from just flying your drone to flying your drone and using it to collect data? Angad Singh tells us about one possible path: Pix4D—a professional mapping and photogrammetry software company for drone pilots. It’s one of the best drone mapping software services, because all the tools you need to capture, process, analyze, and share data are built directly into this end-to-end software solution. It is also adaptable to specific industries, with workflows catered to surveying, construction, agriculture, and real estate.

As a Pix4D trainer, Angad teaches drone operators the theory behind Pix4D mapping software and best practices when integrating the software into their workflows. We met with Angad for an interview, during which he explained the ins and outs of the software, the value of data, and the benefits associated with Pix4D User Workshops.

Pix4D User Workshop


Begin Interview

Tell us a bit about what you do at Pix4D.

I am a trainer at Pix4D, and I teach people the end-to-end workflow of using drones to create geospatial data with Pix4D software.

Whether it be a private class or a public workshop, my primary goal is to help our clients understand the power, as well as the limitations, of geospatial data. Private classes cater to the specific needs of a single client. Public workshops, called Pix4D User Workshops, have been as large as 50 people and last two to three days. They’re very popular, and many sell out during the Fall and Spring.

Where do you teach Pix4D classes and workshops?

I’m based in San Francisco; however, I spend about 70-80% of the time on the road traveling to different workshop locations. A majority of our worksop locations are in North America, but we have them all around the world.

Find a Pix4D User Workshop Location Near You

What does the curriculum covered in the two-day workshop look like?

In the two-day workshop we first teach people what is photogrammetry and de-mystify that large, complex word. Then we teach them the manner in which you have to collect your images. They learn to take images and create 3D models and maps from those images. After that we teach them how to generate the point could, edit the point cloud, and put the data into a format that they can accept as a deliverable for their third party analytical solution.

How did you get into teaching these workshops on geospatial mapping?

What got me into this was the data. It’s the ability to use a drone to solve a pain that you have. The one thing I think people should really understand is that yes, drones are very cool. They’re cool to watch. They’re cool in the sky. But what’s really important is what a drone can do and how to leverage the sensor on the drone. Pix4D has lead the industry in recognizing the value of data and creating software solutions to pair with drone operations.

How do you define photogrammetry? When you hear that term, is it the same thing as mapping, or is there a difference?

Well, there’s a difference, but they’re actually very intertwined. Mapping, you can map with a survey grade GPS. Photogrammetry, if you break it down into the literal roots of the word, means to measure from images.

Images have perspective in them. For example, if I took a photo of you, you would appear closer to me in the photo than the wall behind you or the objects behind you. That’s called perspective—something we as humans inherently experience every day. To create a map where distance is constant in all directions, perspective has to be removed. So, photogrammetry is used to create maps that lay everything out with no perspectives.

What industries do your students typically work in once they’ve learned how to use Pix4D’s mapping software?

The most powerful thing is when people use this as a new tool in their own industries to add efficiency. For a lot of people, it’s injecting the information they learn from the workshop into the industry in which they’re already established as a new tool that does the job faster.

For example, land surveyors can use this tool to add an incredible level of efficiency to their workflow and do their job a lot faster with more detail. They’re legally the only people who can stamp a geospatial data product and say that it has survey grade accuracy. As another example, police officers and accident reconstructionists can take a drone and clean up a highway scene or an accident scene a lot faster and more efficiently than they could before.

Within those industries, what are some specific tasks commonly completed with Pix4D?

We use Pix4D mapping software for is volumetric calculations—understanding how much stuff exists in a designated space. Imagine a contractor bought a shipment of mulch and wants to see if he got the exact amount of mulch he paid for. The easiest and most accurate way to find out, without having to physically weigh the mulch, is to use software like Pix4D to take images of the stockpile to understand precisely what its volume is. This type of volumetric calculation is commonly done in the construction industry too, whether it be folks that work with dirt, or concrete, or other materials.

During workshops, what roadblocks or stumbling points do students encounter, and how do you help them overcome those?

It depends on what pre-existing skill set they come to the class with. For example, somebody who is a land surveyor, or a GIS professional, or an academic researcher in the geospatial sciences, they understand inherent technical terms such as coordinate systems. On the other hand, folks that come from industries where they’ve never encountered this type of information might take more time to fully understand the technical concepts. There could be a learning curve depending on your background, but these courses are designed for people from any background. Plus, students can always opt for the private training and have all of the information taught in a way directly suited to them.

Can you share some best practices for using Pix4D mapping software, or just mapping software in general in conjunction with drones?

First, make sure that your software is up to date. Make sure your firmware is up to date. Then, it’s also critical when you capture your images to take the SD card out of the drone and check those images. Make sure the images are collected with the fundamental level of overlap that Pix4D needs to do its job. Also make sure that the images are clear and focused and that the exposure, or the white balance, is correct.

What advice would you give drone pilots that want to learn about photogrammetry and mapping and put it to use in their own industries?

My biggest piece of advice is invest in your knowledge; don’t invest in your hardware. Invest first into your knowledge, into your skill set, and understand what you want to do. Then choose hardware that fits what you want to do. A lot of folks will take their money and they’ll go ahead and buy a fancy drones, a fancy camera, but they don’t invest in their own knowledge.

Why should someone use Pix4D?

Pix4D is the best and most consistent solution for taking images regardless of whether they’re from a drone, an airplane, a cellphone, or any camera really. Pix4D software can take those images and use the data within in them to create high-resolution, 3D models.

Creating the data helps you solve a question or use that data to analyze and create an answer to a problem or a question that you have. The purpose of creating high quality data is to get good answers. We don’t want Pix4D being the whole focus of everybody’s workflow. We want people to use Pix4D to create, to further research, and to create answers to questions that exist in the real world.

Check out this video for more ideas on how you can use Pix4D mapping software in your own sUAS operations:

YouTube Video

The post Capitalize on the Value of Data and Learn to Use Professional Drone Mapping Software: An Interview with Angad Singh, Pix4D Trainer appeared first on UAV Coach.

Drone Insurance Company SkyWatch.AI Shares Insights, Rolls Out New Plan for Pro Service Providers

A just out, monthly drone insurance plan has been added to SkyWatch.AI’s insurance plan options to meet the needs of “frequent flyers.” If you fly your drone so often that on-demand insurance doesn’t make sense for you, SkyWatch.AI’s new SkyWatch Plus program might be just for you.

skywatch-drone-insurance

About the SkyWatch Plus Program

SkyWatch Plus is a tailor-made monthly subscription plan for drone pilot “frequent flyers” that allows them to have insurance coverage all month long anywhere in the U.S. and its territories. Basically, if you’re a drone pilot who flies often, this might be a better option for you than on-demand insurance.

Monthly rates for the SkyWatch Plus program are determined by the chosen liability limit and the available rate adjustments for safe pilots.

As with SkyWatch.AI’s “on-demand” offering, the pricing for SkyWatch Plus is determined by their risk analytics platform, so both the pilot’s Safety Score and Insurance Experience discounts are fully applicable.

skywatch-drone-insurance

The Safety Score is a proprietary value created for pilots who have flown at least five missions using the SkyWatch.AI app. The app collects data on how each pilot flies, and uses that data to assess his or her safety. Insurance Experience simply refers to the total amount of time a pilot has been insured—the longer a pilot is insured, the steeper the discount (up to a certain point, of course).

With this new addition to our platform, pilots have the freedom to choose between our on-demand hourly plan, and a monthly subscription and switch between them as they wish. Our simple, fast, and transparent solution provides pilots the ability to pay exactly for what they need, precisely when they need it.

– Tomer Kashi, CEO of SkyWatch

Trying to decide whether on-demand or monthly is right for you? Check out this side-by-side comparison of each one provided by SkyWatch.AI:

skywatch-comparison

If you’d like to learn more, check out the price calculator on the SkyWatch.AI website.

Risk Analysis Insights

In addition to announcing SkyWatch Plus, SkyWatch.AI also recently shared some unique insights about drone flights in the U.S. based on the data they collect.

SkyWatch.AI gathers a lot of data on drone pilot behavior through their app—in 2018 alone, they had 50,000 flight logs generated. Here are the three biggest insights from an analysis of that data:

1. Insights on Hazardous Flying

According to the data collected by SkyWatch.AI, during 70% of the flights logged on their app the pilot engaged in some kind of hazardous behavior.

The most common risk that drone pilots using the SkyWatch.AI app take is to fly over moderately dense roads, and the second most common risk is to fly in controlled airspace.

skywatch-hazardous-flights

According to SkyWatch.AI, the LAANC rollout should help prevent many of those flights in controlled airspace, since pilots will now have a practical option when it comes to seeking airspace authorizations (instead of simply doing the flight and taking the risk).

2. Insights on Drone Flights by State

Looking at the raw data, SkyWatch.AI found that, unsurprisingly, the most populous states in the U.S. also have the most overall drone flights—California, Texas, and Florida lead the pack. (The only exception here is New York, which they speculate may not have as many due to congested airspace.)

skywatch-commercial-drone-distribution

However, when SkyWatch.AI controlled for population size, the numbers revealed some surprising trends, with three smaller states in the northeast—Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Jersey—showing the most drone flights per capita.

skywatch-commercial-drone-insights

3. Insights on the Impact of LAANC

LAANC is currently being rolled out throughout the U.S.—in fact, Wave 5 of the rollout deploys today, making LAANC available in the majority of U.S. airspace.

When SkyWatch.AI looked at the number of flights that took place in 2018 in controlled airspace, they found that 75% of those flights took place in areas where LAANC currently is or will be soon available.

It seems a little premature to point to LAANC as a success based on this data, since we don’t know how many of these flights took place with FAA approval or whether that approval was granted through LAANC, but it does seem like a positive sign.

skywatch-laanc

Check out this video to learn more about SkyWatch.AI’s AirMAp integration to provide LAANC access to users of its app:

YouTube Video

Have questions about SkyWatch Plus, or want to connect with other drone pilots looking for drone insurance? Hop into this thread on the UAV Coach community forum to join the discussion.

The post Drone Insurance Company SkyWatch.AI Shares Insights, Rolls Out New Plan for Pro Service Providers appeared first on UAV Coach.

First Ever Voice-Controlled Drone, Mantis Q, Announced by Yuneec Also Offers Facial Detection and Longest Flight Time Among Competitors

Voice control capabilities are on the rise in many tech products, now including drones. On August 14, 2018, Yuneec, the world leader in electric aviation, announced the first ever voice-controlled drone.

Thanks to Yuneec, we can add a new name to the list of sophisticated, voice-controlled products—Mantis Q, the latest extension of Yuneec’s award-winning consumer drone lineup. Mantis Q might not update your calendar like Siri, put on your playlist like Alexa, or give you driving directions like Google, but it will take a photo or begin recording video with a simple voice command. The ability to perform these actions without taking your hands off the controls will solve a major pain point for drone operators, making it much easier to capture the perfect shot.

Mantis Q also responds to commands such as “Wake up” for powering on, “Take off” to automatically start flying and then come up to a hover, and “Return home” for auto-landing.

Yuneec Mantis Q

Due to its portability, ease-of-use and superior flight time, the Mantis Q is the ideal companion for adventurers, families and drone enthusiasts. It touts several eyebrow raising features including:

  • Voice control
  • Facial detection and gesture control
  • 33-minute flight time
  • Foldable arms
  • Capture in 4K
  • Indoor and outdoor flying
  • Sport mode
YouTube Video

About Yuneec Mantis Q’s Features

The voice control feature will most set this product apart from other consumer drones, but that’s not all Yuneec wanted this drone to be capable of. In order to compete in an increasingly DJI-dominated market, Yuneec equipped Mantis Q with all the bells and whistles. Read on for details on each of Mantis Q’s features.

Voice Control

With the all new voice control feature, users can command Mantis Q just by using their voice. Voice control allows users to take a photo or begin recording video all without having to manually take their hands off of the controls, making it that much easier to capture the perfect shot.

Facial Detection and Gesture Control

Other notable features of the Mantis Q include its facial detection and gesture control. Users simply smile at the drone to activate face detection and as soon as the Mantis Q “sees” the user’s face, it will take a photo from up to 13 feet away. In Gesture Control mode, Mantis Q will detect a hand waving and it will take a photo.

Capture in Stunning 4K

Using an integrated camera, the Mantis Q records high resolution photos and videos. Pictures with a resolution of 4800×2700 (16:9) or 4160×3120 (4:3) pixels are saved in JPEG or DNG format on the included MicroSD card; the same goes for up to 4K of recorded videos. In up to Full HD (1920×1080), they are electronically stabilized live. The camera can be tilted upwards by up to 20 degrees or downwards by 90 degrees during flight. For cinematic camera flights, the Mantis Q also comes with automatic flight modes such as Journey, Point of Interest and Orbit Me.

33-minute Flight Time

Thanks to its energy-efficient design, the drone can stay in the air for up to 33 minutes, allowing pilots plenty of time to record great photos and video clips.

Foldable Arms

When folded together, the Mantis Q measures just 6.6 x 3.8 x 2.2 inches and weighs just 1 pound. It’s the ideal companion for big and small adventures alike.

Portable Drone Mantis Q

Indoor and outdoor flying

Unlike most in its class, Mantis Q comes equipped with advanced indoor stabilization technology. Down-facing dual sonar sensors and infrared detection make it safe enough to fly indoors and outdoors. Users also have the option to fly Mantis Q with and without the added controller.

Sport Mode

If users want to experience the thrill of drone racing, they can switch to the Mantis Q’s Sport Mode. The Mantis Q can fly up to a maximum speed of 44 miles per hour – and that’s all while performing with the agility of a real racer. The live image can be viewed with a latency of less than (200ms) on a smartphone which is connected to the remote control.

Yuneec’s First Consumer-Focused Drone Launch Since 2016

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen a new consumer drone from Yuneec. The Breeze and Typhoon H, both announced back in 2016, were the last consumer drone launches from Yuneec. The reaction from consumers wasn’t as enthusiastic as the company hoped. In 2017, Yuneec shifted focus to commercial drones and announced the H520. So far, in 2018, the company has launched two FPV drones and a reiteration of the Typhoon H (Typhoon H Plus).

Interestingly, Yuneec has launched the Mantis Q shortly after DJI’s Mavic 2 leak and before the Mavic 2 official launch, scheduled for August 23.

The company hopes to provide consumers a seamless experience with the Mantis Q and to surpass competing drone producers with the addition of advanced drone features such as voice control.

The Mantis Q was developed to offer cutting edge, advanced drone features such as voice control and facial detection in an easy-to-use, ultra portable package. Consumers will find that the Mantis Q seamlessly integrates into everyday experiences, and they will appreciate the incredible energy efficient package that allows up to 33 minutes of flight time to help capture every moment.

— Michael Jiang, CEO of Yuneec International.

Voice Control Drone Mantis Q

Pre-Order the Mantis Q

The Mantis Q will retail at $499.99 and is available now for pre-order in the United States at Yuneec.com. The purchase will include Mantis Q, controller, one battery, spare propellers (one set), three-port charger, and the power and USB cable.

Tell us what you think about the Mantis Q and discuss with other remote pilots on our community forum.

The post First Ever Voice-Controlled Drone, Mantis Q, Announced by Yuneec Also Offers Facial Detection and Longest Flight Time Among Competitors appeared first on UAV Coach.

DJI Confirms Mavic 2 After Catalog Leaks Photos

Mavic 2 Leak
We weren’t supposed to see leaked photos of the DJI Mavic 2, but now that they’re out we can’t look away! Argos, a print catalog in the UK, is responsible for the leak, advertising two versions of the Mavic 2 in its newest catalog.

Twitter user, Brett Thake, pointed out the pre-released photo in the UK Argos catalog.

If a picture communicates more than words, this full-page ad told us all we needed to know about the Mavic 2. It appears that the release will include two different versions, the Zoom and the Pro. A subsequent leak from DroneDJ also revealed the possibility of a third iteration for the Mavic 2, the Enterprise.

We don’t have to doubt the authenticity of the ad since DJI issued a statement after the catalog released the print advertisement, and confirmed that the Mavic 2 will indeed be announced “at the right time.”

 

This pre-printed catalog was planned before we postponed our See the Bigger Picture event to guarantee our customers high-quality, state-of-the-art technology in line with our standard of innovation. This hasty look alludes to the many exciting features and capabilities that DJI will be announcing at the right time, and we look forward to giving our fans an amazing drone experience as soon as we can.

— DJI

Leaked Mavic 2 Features

The leaked photos revealed an amazing set of improved features from the previous model, including extended battery life and transmission distance. According to the Argos catalog, both the Mavic 2 Zoom and the Mavic 2 Pro will feature:

  • The ability to fly up to 45mph
  • 31-minute battery life
  • 360-degree collision detection
  • 1080p video transmission
  • Five mile transmission distance
  • Advanced Pilot Assistance Systems
  • Active Track 2.0 to assist in flying the drone

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro comes equipped with a 1-inch CMOS Hasselblad camera where the Zoom model has a 2x zoom lens. The YouTube channel, Tech Drone Media, put out a video highlighting the features of each new Mavic:

YouTube Video

Speculation on Official Mavic 2 Release Date

It’s speculated that DJI will make an official announcement and release the Mavic 2 at their upcoming “See the Bigger Picture” event, scheduled for August 23rd at 10am in the NY Metro area. The original event was scheduled to take place on July 18th, but was postponed. DJI stated that the event was postponed so “we can deliver according to our standard of innovation. User experience is our top priority, and we wanted to ensure we can exceed our customers’ expectations for our technology by the time of the event.”

See The Bigger Picture DJI Event

Despite product leaks, the new editions of the Mavic 2 are still highly anticipated and will likely be introduced during the event. DJI has not officially announced a release date, but we are eager to get our hands each version of the new Mavic 2!

The post DJI Confirms Mavic 2 After Catalog Leaks Photos appeared first on UAV Coach.

FAA Reauthorization Bill to Reach Senate Floor: Possible Impacts and the Future of Drone Regulations

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to convene, today, August 10, 2018 at 10:30 AM for a pro forma session. On the calendar of business is an aviation policy bill that will reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) until fiscal year 2021. The two general orders include S.1405 and H.R. 4. Speculation about when the bill will be discussed has varied, with prior expectations that it would have reached a vote last month in July. However, it has yet to reach the Senate floor.

Senate meets at Capitol Hill to discuss FAA Reauthorization

The Senate is scheduled to meet next at Capitol Hill on Aug. 10 and Aug 15. Image via Flickr.

The House has proposed amendments to the bill, covering a range of issues, including air traffic management of unmanned aircraft, the role of state and local government in UAS regulation, and increased transparency of information on approved sUAS waivers and airspace authorizations.

Current Standing of the S.1405 FAA Reauthorization Act

Here’s where the S.1405 – Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2017 currently stands:

Introduced: 6/22/2017

Last action: 5/9/2018 – Mr. Thune and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation addressed the Senate with an amendment in the nature of a substitute – a bill to amend title 49, United State Code, to authorize appropriations for the FAA, and for other purposes.

Current: Placed on the Senate’s Legislative Calendar under “General Orders.” The calendar, composed of several sections, identifies bills and resolutions awaiting Senate floor actions. Most measures are placed on the calendar under the heading “General Orders” in the sequence in which they were added to the calendar. The FAA Reauthorization Act is currently in position 407.

Potential Impact of S.1405 on the Drone Industry

The Senate bill S.1405 deems that the Government Accountability Office shall review privacy issues and concerns associated with the operation of unmanned aircraft (drones) in the national airspace system. It also induces the FAA to develop and deploy a plan to mitigate airspace safety threats posed by drones. Additionally, it would place responsibility for the operation of public drones in the hands of the Department of Transportation (DOT).

FAA Reauthorization Drone Regualtions

Another policy that would be enacted if the bill is passed is the Drone Operator Safety Act. This act will make it a crime to operate a drone that knowingly or recklessly interferes with or disrupts the operation of an aircraft carrying one or more occupants in U.S. airspace.

In whole, the goals (some of which the FAA has already taken action on) of S.1405 regarding UAS are to:

  • Direct the FAA to charter an aviation rulemaking advisory committee to recommend consensus safety standards for UAS, to be accepted by the FAA, to enhance the safety features built into drones and parameters for operators.
  • Enhance privacy by declaring as national policy that UAS should be operated in a manner that protects personal privacy, encouraging commercial UAS users to adopt written privacy policies, and increasing transparency and accountability for government and commercial use of UAS.
  • Promote safety by requiring UAS users to pass an FAA-approved online aeronautical safety test before flying. This would ensure users understand the NAS and avoid manned aircraft. Operators of UAS weighing less than 0.55 pounds could be exempted from the testing requirement.
  • Authorize the establishment of an airspace hazard mitigation program to intercept drones near airports.
  • Foster innovation by authorizing expanded case-by-case exemptions for beyond visual-line-of sight, nighttime operations, and operations over people, as well as for research and development and commercial purposes.
  • Improve UAS test sites, first authorized in 2012, by establishing long-term authorization, more clearly directing research priorities, improving coordination with the FAA, and enhancing protections for proprietary information to encourage engagement with the private sector.
  • Require the DOT to establish a UAS delivery air carrier certificate that would allow for package deliveries by UAS.
  • Directs the FAA to establish operating rules specific to “micro” UAS, which weigh 4.4 pounds or less.
  • Streamline the approval process for the safe operation of UAS at institutions of higher education.

What Happens Next

There are hopes that the bill will reach the Senate floor during their next session. Albeit, if we look back on how these things have proceeded in the past, the bill could continue to get pushed back for weeks.

However, organizations such as the General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) and the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) have joined together to call on U.S. Senate leadership to consider the bill as soon as possible.

In a letter to Senate leadership, GAMA and AIA made a collective statement:

With similar legislation already having passed the U.S. House of Representatives, we believe now is the right time for the U.S. Senate to decisively act to improve the FAA certification and regulatory process.

-Eric K. Fanning, President and CEO, AIA/Peter J. Bunce, President and CEO, GAMA

The House passed their version of the bill, H.R. 4 on April 27, 2018. Now, the Senate will need to pass their version, S.1405 before members from both the House and the Senate can meet to settle the differences between the two. After those differences are settled, the House and Senate bills will be reconciled into a single proposal called a Conference Report. The Conference Report is then sent back to both chambers for a vote, and, if it passes, is then sent to the President who will approve it as law or veto it.

You can view a live stream of the Senate floor proceeding on August 10 here, and return to the page to watch future proceedings. We’d also like to hear what you think about the bill and how you feel it may impact the drone industry. Share your thoughts in this thread on our community forum.

The post FAA Reauthorization Bill to Reach Senate Floor: Possible Impacts and the Future of Drone Regulations appeared first on UAV Coach.

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