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DroneBase Lets Any Business Rent A Drone And Pilot

Source: TechCrunch
By: Josh Constine

Drone Base

You don’t want to own a drone. Or learn to fly a drone. Or hire someone full-time to fly a drone. And you definitely don’t want to pay for a helicopter, plane or satellite. You just want some aerial photos or videos of your work site, real estate or infrastructure. Now, thanks to DroneBase, you can get the benefits of unmanned aerial vehicles without the hassle.

DroneBase lets you commission a drone and its pilot for commercial jobs. You just submit your request online, DroneBase finds someone who can do the gig, they come fly and send you the media and data needed. The DroneBase marketplace is now open for business in Los Angeles with plans to expand.

DroneBase has the potential to both disrupt old ways of getting aerial imagery or doing heavy industry inspections, but also open up options to businesses that couldn’t afford it. Now after graduating from Y Combinator, DroneBase has raised a seed round led by Union Square Ventures and joined by SV Angel, Rothenberg Ventures, and Launchpad LA.


From Military To Everybody

“I was a marine infantry officer, When we’d go on patrol in Iraq, we’d have air cover from a pair of F16s.”
While those fast-flying jets might be great at shooting down other fighter planes, “You’d want to know what was behind the wall 20 feet away and they couldn’t always solve that problem.”

– DroneBase co-founder Dan Burton

But drones could, and he soon realized they’d have plenty more uses back in the civilian world.

After his tour, Burton came to California and learned about the budding commercial UAV business.

“I was driving around with five drones in the back of my truck” ,
doing jobs shooting photos and videos for construction companies, mines, real estate agents, and more.
“They didn’t want to own drones. Ones that bought them would often get frustrated because six months later ones would come out at half the price, and they had to hire employees to fly them. They just wanted the output,”

– Burton said

Meanwhile, he grew closer to the community of drone hobbyists turned part-time professionals. They wished they could make a living as drone pilots, but many struggled with the sales, marketing, and payment aspects of their business.

So Burton came up with DroneBase to solve problems on both sides.

“The vision for this company is to enable the profession of drone operator. And on the customer side, drones are a very intimidating, advanced technology. We want to make it as simple as pushing a button.”

– Burton said

Burton linked up with Eli Tamanaha, a veteran developer from Microsoft, Amazon and Netflix, and together they built a rough prototype of a marketplace for drone services. While dogfooding the product, Burton and Tamanaha ended up drone videoing a scheduled explosion at a mine, which became its homepage.

Drones For Hire

For now, DroneBase is focused on three verticals:

  1. Real Estate – Imagery for marketing property to potential customers
  2. Construction – Monitoring progress of construction projects
  3. Mining – Surveying dig areas and doing inspections

To keep things simple, DroneBase charges $399 for a set of 15-20 HD photos, 3-4 videos, and an edited final video showing the best angles of an area; and $499 for surveying under 50 acres plus producing a high-res orthomosaic map with basic surface area and volumetric calculations. DroneBase plans to take a commission of around 15 percent on jobs.

Drone pilots will find missions they’re qualified for in their area on the site and be dispatched with instructions. Many times, the business doesn’t have to do any hand-holding or even meet the pilot on site. The operator just collects the data and images, sends them to the client, wipes their memory cards, and goes to their next DroneBase job.


Luckily, most of these jobs fall within the FAA’s rules, as the drones are flying under 500 feet within a line of sight of the pilot with permission of the land owner. Eventually, Burton hopes to allow businesses to rate their pilots on the imagery and data they produce, and let pilots earn certifications for different specialties.
Burton insists that

“safety is my #1 priority. We’ve turned down jobs for that reason.”

DroneBase’s site is still rough, but then again, the commercial drone rental market is still in its infancy. With time I expect DroneBase to become easier to use while offering a much wider range of bookable services. It also wants to build better tools for collaborating and annotating data, which could create repeat customers that want to update or combine data from multiple work sites.

Turning Passion Into A Profession

The money from Union Square Ventures and others should help DroneBase take off. Burton tells me he chose Fred Wilson’s fund because the team was humble and helpful, and because of their investment thesis that network effect businesses win, which led them to success with Kickstarter, Tumblr, Twitter and Etsy. Wilson writes that he wanted to invest in drones because “they represent a 10x improvement in cost and speed over things they replace.”

Turning Passion Into A Profession

While Burton says DroneBase can get businesses what they’re already paying helicopters, planes, or satellites for at one-fifth of the price, he tells me the larger market is all the companies who couldn’t afford aerial imagery before. While DroneBase is an early mover, he’s not too worried about similar marketplaces springing up, saying

“The first competitor is non-consumption.”


Big drone manufacturers like DJI have been getting a lot of attention. But the hardware will become commoditized. It’s the hard-to-replicate software that controls the drones like Airware and Skydio, and the networked businesses like DroneBase that democratize access to these vehicles that could be the real money-makers.

But it’s when Burton talks about helping people do what they love for a living that his eyes really light up.

“People are so passionate and crazy about flying these things. They’ve put a lot of time and money into developing the skill of operating a drone and I want them to have a profession.”


The post DroneBase Lets Any Business Rent A Drone And Pilot appeared first on UAV Coach.

This Is One Crazy Drone Crash

Whether you like it or not, dealing with a crashes is a common part of being a drone pilot. Sometimes these things just happen. If you’ve ever wondered what it looks like on film when a drone fails while flying several hundred feet off the ground, then check this video out for a seriously cool yet dizzying descent. This particular pilot ran into some issues with the wind, as well as a dwindling power supply.

The post This Is One Crazy Drone Crash appeared first on UAV Coach.

Aerial Urbex: 7 Difficult Deserted Places Filmed with Drones

Source: Web Urbanist
By: Kurt Kohlstedt (Urbanist)


Drones have changed the landscape of urban exploration and building infiltration, allowing their navigators access to toxic, irradiated, forbidden and structurally unsound places. These haunting videos illustrate how drones have been used to document inaccessible spaces and find amazing forgotten places.

St. Peter’s Seminary in Cardross, Scotland, is set to be restored thanks to millions in grants and donations, but for now it remains in a remarkably ruined state – crumbling, overgrown and vandalized. The scenes shot for this film are amazing as they not only fly over and around the building by right through it, passing between levels missing both floors and ceilings that would otherwise be impossible to see in person.


Underdrone combines upside-down footage from the “Lost Places Project,” a world tour including destinations within France, Argentina, Sicily, Greece and China using a DJI Ph2, H3-3D and GoPro3. The inverted perspective adds a layer of eerie vertigo to these spectacular and strange settings.

Naza Abandoned Renaissance Festival

Drones can also provide the means to uncover new abandonments, discovering long-deserted places that have fallen from maps and have no landmarks pointing the way, as was the case with this abandoned Renaissance Faire. Locate in Fredericksburg, Virginia, it was found thanks to the use of a quadcopter and TBS Discovery with Naza GPS. The remote location is possible to reach, but thanks to ticks in the area may be best enjoyed remotely (or: via remote control).



Previously featured on WebUrbanist, Postcards from Pripyat is an essential in any drone urbex collection. It was filmed by Danny Cooke on a trip to Ukraine as part of a 60 Minutes story aired on CBS about the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear incident and ongoing efforts to cap the remains of the reactor.


Miranda Castle in Belgium is an undeniably beautiful building, even in its decrepit state, but many of its best details are ideally seen from close up or even above, as these aerial drone footage illustrates admirably. Its spires, chimneys, balconies and more are all on display thanks to the filmmakers of the Icarus Project.


Michigan Central Station may be one of the most famous (and massive) abandoned places in Detroit, towering over the surrounding low-rise neighborhood and full of hidden dangers – but not for a drone flying up the side, swooping around and ultimately over it.


Flying over an abandoned water-filled quarry, this drone makes a series of discoveries, finding abandoned bulldozers, cranes and other heavy equipment submerged in water when the place was flooded then left behind to decay underwater.

The post Aerial Urbex: 7 Difficult Deserted Places Filmed with Drones appeared first on UAV Coach.

AU Receives First FAA Authorization to Operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School

Source: sUAS News
By: Press


AUBURN UNIVERSITY — Auburn University has received the nation’s first FAA approval to operate a new Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School as part of the Auburn University Aviation Center.

“This is an honor for Auburn University,”

“We will conduct commercial flight training for operators of unmanned aircraft systems outdoors and untethered. We will have the ability to offer training courses at different locations here and around the state for Auburn students, faculty, members of other public agencies and the general public.”

– Bill Hutto, director of the Auburn University Aviation Center.

Unmanned aircraft systems, or drones, are expected to be a key component of the state’s and nation’s economy as opportunities continue to arise in business and industry, as well as in research areas such as engineering, building science and agriculture.

“It’s a major win for the state,”
“We’re building off Alabama’s already rich history and robust industry in aerospace and aviation and now leading the nation in an area of emerging technology that’s critical to our success in future economic opportunities.”

– Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey said.

The FAA approval requires that operators of unmanned aircraft pass a written exam and a flying test, both of which Auburn will administer.

“It ensures that the operators have a good understanding of how to safely and properly operate an unmanned aircraft system,”

– Hutto said.

Auburn University has been involved in aviation education for more than 80 years and has been providing fight training for pilots for nearly 75 years. Auburn offers three aviation/aerospace degrees: aviation management, professional flight management and aerospace engineering.

“I commend Auburn University on obtaining the new FAA approval,”

“It is another step in continuing the long-time educational excellence in aviation and aerospace at the university. Our state will benefit by having unmanned aircraft system operators trained in the safe, effective use of these aircraft.”

– Seth Hammett, a member of the Auburn University Aviation Center Steering Committee.

The post AU Receives First FAA Authorization to Operate Unmanned Aircraft Systems Flight School appeared first on UAV Coach.

Drone Flies Into A Volcano

How this drone did not end up destroyed is beyond me, seeing that molten rock comes within inches of it on several occasions. This DJI Phantom pilot took their quadcopter above Yasur volcano on Tanna Island in Vanuatu, and ended up capturing some of the best drone footage ever shared on the web. Get ready for a wild flight!

The post Drone Flies Into A Volcano appeared first on UAV Coach.

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