Drone News & Drone Directory

UAV Coach

Want to Join Our (Fast-Growing) Drone Company? We’re Hiring a Student Support Manager

This position requires a Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate.

Do you like to teach? Are you friendly, a clear communicator, and knowledgeable about the drone industry? Can you thrive in the flexibility of a remote-work environment?

THE COMPANY

Founded in 2014, UAV Coach has grown to be a leading training and education company for professionals and hobbyists in the drone industry. We receive 300,000+ monthly visits to our website and have over 50,000 people on our email list. Our flagship test prep course, Drone Pilot Ground School, has been used by thousands of U.S. drone pilots to successfully study for and pass the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test.

  • We’ve trained 5,000+ people and continue to receive glowing reviews for 1) our course content and the efficacy of our training program; 2) our customer support; and 3) our industry update emails and tracking of FAA regulations.
  • Our customers include some of the biggest brands in the world.
  • We work remotely from our homes and offices around the U.S.
  • We value strong communication, positivity and work-life balance.

THE POSITION

As our Student Support Manager, you’ll primarily be:

  • Handling phone and email support for students enrolled in our online Drone Pilot Ground School test prep course.
  • You’ll also handle course administrative tasks like:
  • Tracking purchase orders
  • Issuing course receipts
  • Bulk-enrolling students
  • Processing Partner applications
  • Reviewing flight proficiency videos and issuing course diplomas

EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS ROLE

  • This job pays $20 per hour
  • You’ll work about 10-15 hours per week at first, with room to grow within the role.
  • Even though this is a part-time role, you’re expected to be on call for student phone calls and emails during normal business hours. You don’t always need to be available in the moment, but you need to have a plan to get back to students in a timely manner. We can discuss expectations during the interview process.
  • You must hold an FAA Remote Pilot Certificate. Bonus points for scoring 92% or higher.
  • You must enjoy teaching and possess excellent written and oral communication skills.
  • Experience working in customer support is a plus.
  • You’ll work from home and communicate with us using Slack (team chat program).
  • Training in the following software platforms will be provided (Teachable, HubSpot, Zapier, Accredible).

INTERESTED?

Send an email to lana(at)uavcoach(dot)com with a cover letter explaining why you’re a good fit for this role and what questions you have for our team, and also attach your resume.

If our team thinks that you’re a good fit, we’ll reach out to schedule an interview over Skype or FaceTime. Thanks!

The post Want to Join Our (Fast-Growing) Drone Company? We’re Hiring a Student Support Manager appeared first on UAV Coach.

Want to Get Into FPV Drone Racing? Consider Force1 RC’s FPV Drone Racing Kit

I remember the first time I heard about first-person-view (FPV) drone racing.

It was back in October 17th 2014.

I only know this because at the time, I had JUST finished building our website. And I was furiously researching the drone industry. One lovely morning, I saw a video on YouTube of PEOPLE RACING DRONES IN THE FRENCH ALPS.

Wow. I couldn’t believe it. It was like Star Wars pod-racing…but in real life. In the Alps. Around trees. With robots and cool goggles and high-pitched zeeeyahhhuuums I’d never really heard before.

I saw that video, and I asked myself one very important question.

What does it feel like to be an FPV drone racing pilot?

Getting Into FPV Drone Racing

FPV Racing is a new and rapidly growing sport that’s getting commercialized by organizations like the Drone Racing LeagueU.S. Drone Racing Association, MultiGP, and events like the World Drone Racing Championships.

The first time I flew FPV was on the Drone Racing League’s free simulator. The software is free to download, but I bought the FrSky Taranis X9D Plus 2.4GHz Telemetry Radio & Aluminum Case Mode 2 Transmitter to be able to fly with real joysticks. It was very easy to set up and came with a rugged silver case to make me feel special.

fpv drone racing simulator

I spent…a lot of time on that simulator.

Maybe 30-40 hours. I hadn’t enjoyed a game like that in a while. I’m on their email list, and they recently released a new level / course to race. Check it out…it’s free!

No, I Don’t Want to Build an FPV Racing Drone Myself

But then, when I wanted to take my newly honed stick skills and racing confidence to the real world, I had a hard time transitioning out of the simulator.

Thing is, I was lazy.

At the time, most people were soldering together their own custom FPV drone racing systems. And of the companies putting kits together, they were incomplete in the sense that you STILL needed to buy a transmitter, Goggles, spare parts, etc. There wasn’t a true “ready to fly” system you could just buy off the shelf. Or if there was, I certainly couldn’t find it.

I just didn’t feel like piecing together a whole system from the ground up.

Inside Force1 RC’s FPV Drone Racing Kit

And then I received a demo unit of this super awesome drone racing kit from the team over at Force1 RC.

fpv drone racing kit box

Everything I needed to fly. All in one place. Still some setup required, but much easier to get off the ground than all the other options I had evaluated up to that point.

Putting it together took about 90 minutes. I emailed their support team at one point and received back a quick reply. That was a great sign and not always the case with drone manufacturers / companies I’ve worked with.

Here’s what comes with the Force1 RC FPV Drone Racing Kit:

  • Carbon fiber frame with integrated electronics (AKA all the wires already soldered together, the motors hooked up, etc.)
  • A 2.4GHz controller / transmitter with customizable switches and a color LCD screen
  • A 5.8 GHz set of FPV racing goggles
  • Other accessories like spare parts and a LiPo battery balance charger

FPV drone racing kit

I had to be careful my first few flights while I got used to the controls. This bad boy packs a SERIOUS punch and can zip and zoom and zweeeee in all directions very quickly.

I’ve only gone through a few battery cycles so far, but MAN this thing is fun. It has an impressive ground range of nearly 3,000 feet. I’ve tested it to about 300 feet without any lag in the video feed.

And no crashes yet! Maybe I’m not training hard enough. Gee whiz, who knows what the future will hold for this aspiring FPV racing pilot 🙂

But anyway, if you’re looking to get into FPV drone racing, I definitely recommend Force1’s racing kit. I’ve had great luck with their instructions and support team on multiple products of theirs over the last few years. Questions? support (at) uavcoach (dot) com.

 

The post Want to Get Into FPV Drone Racing? Consider Force1 RC’s FPV Drone Racing Kit appeared first on UAV Coach.

DJI Launches Spark, the Selfie Drone You Can Fly with Gestures

DJI has been hyping the release of the Spark like crazy over the last few weeks.

Even the leaked images of the Spark that came out a little while back (and which DJI denied existed at the time) now seem like they could have been part of a clever PR ploy to build as much buzz as possible around this new selfie drone.

Well, the buzz seems to have been worth it. The Spark was launched today at an event called DJI Live, where a DJI rep spoke about what is new and revolutionary about the Spark, did a flight demonstration, and played a vlog featuring the new drone.

Probably the biggest news from DJI’s release today is that the Spark can be flown using gestures.

That’s right. By moving your hand in different directions, you can control the flight path of the Spark. (We hate to say it, but this reminds us a lot of the vision Lily Robotics had for their selfie drone—which, alas, was never meant to be.)

DJI-spark-gestures

With it’s gesture recognition and obstacle avoidance technology, it’s not an exaggeration to say that the Spark is probably the most user-friendly drone on the market.

The Spark takes off from the operator’s hand and automatically enters “Gesture Mode”, which lets users send it into the air and shoot a video with pre-defined flight paths, like circling, following, or filming from straight up.

If you want to fly farther, you have the option of using a smartphone app for flights over 100 yards away, or you can use a remote control (the Spark can fly a distance of 1.2 miles). The Intelligent Flight Modes we’re familiar with from more professional DJI drones—such as TapFly and ActiveTrack—can also be found on the Spark.

Cost

At $499, the Spark costs half of what the Mavic will run you (the Mavic sells for $999).

The Spark is currently on sale for preorders, and will start shipping mid-June. Buy it now at the DJI store.

dji-spark-drone

You can also get a full “fly more” combo for $699, which includes an extra set of propellers, an extra battery, propeller guards, a charging hub, a remote controller, and a carrying case.

Here’s what comes in the box, and also what you get with the combo:

dji-spark-box

Specs

  • Flight time/battery life: 16 minutes
  • Transmission distance: 1.2 miles
  • Speed: Up to 31 mph
  • VPS Range: 98 feet
  • Gimbal: 2 axis
  • Effective pixels: 12MP
  • Weight: .66 pounds (SUPER light)
  • Camera details: 1/2.3 Sensor Powerful Lens, 1080p resolution

QuickShot

Accompanying the launch of the Spark, DJI announced a new mode called QuickShot, which automatically creates a 10-second video from the footage captured in your flight.

dji-spark-colors

The idea here, as described by DJI, is to avoid all the work currently needed to take raw footage and create a final video. Instead of taking your footage, uploading it, editing it, and then downloading it, QuickShot simply creates a video for you using your best shots.

Of course, this won’t be of use for high end cinematographers. But that’s the point. This is a feature for regular people who want to share videos of themselves and their friends.

Just as the smartphone gave everyone the ability to easily take high quality pictures, edit, and share them, DJI is now making it possible to share out drone videos just as easily, with no special software, equipment (other than the Spark), or background in cinematography.

 

The post DJI Launches Spark, the Selfie Drone You Can Fly with Gestures appeared first on UAV Coach.

Court Rules Hobbyists No Longer Have to Register Drones with the FAA

A U.S. Court of Appeals recently ruled that hobbyists no longer have to register their drones with the FAA.

Until this ruling any drone enthusiast who wanted to fly a drone weighing over .55 pounds was required to register their drone with the FAA.

hobbyists-faa-drones

Image source

The court case was based in D.C., and was brought by drone hobbyist John Taylor. The case hinged on the definition of a model aircraft (according to the FAA model aircrafts do not have to be registered; drones do). The legal argument had to do with the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, which states that the FAA “may not promulgate any rule or regulation regarding a model aircraft.”

Taylor’s lawyers argued that the FAA doesn’t have jurisdiction regarding what the law classifies as a model aircraft, and won.

“Taylor does not think that the FAA had the statutory authority to issue the Registration Rule and require him to register. Taylor is right.”

– Circuit Judge Brett Kavanaugh

The drone hobbyist registration requirement was first instituted on December 15, 2015. After the first month the FAA reported over 300,000 drones had been registered. The total number of drones registered in the U.S. today is just south of 700,000 (if not more).

It’s important to note that the ruling is not yet enforceable, as the court gave the FAA seven days (or until this Friday, May 26) to consider its legal options. For the moment, drone hobbyists flying drones weighing .55 pounds or more are still required to register their drones with the FAA.

Varying Responses to the Ruling

Although some drone hobbyists see the decision in Taylor v. Huerta as a win, many in the drone industry, including us here at UAV Coach, are more concerned than we are excited.

The FAA registry was first created as a way to address the incredibly rapid growth of drone ownership in the U.S., and put some kind of protection in place against the use of drones for invasions of privacy, as well as rogue drone flights in protected airspace or in other scenarios where they might endanger people, like flights over people.

From our perspective, the registration system serves two function simultaneously.

The first function is practical, and is about accountability. Knowing that your drone is registered will deter, off the bat, reckless flying because you know the chances of getting caught are much higher if your UAV is registered.

The second function of the registration system is about public perception. The drone industry has always had an uphill battle when it comes to convincing people that drones are actually used for good. The registration system provides a mechanism to demonstrate to the public that drone pilots—both hobbyists and commercial pilots alike—act in good faith and want to fly safely and legally.

The thinking regarding the first function is pretty simple. If your drone is registered, you’ll probably be more likely to think twice before you fly into protected airspace, over crowds, or in other scenarios that may endanger people. Registration also protects drone pilots themselves, by allowing clear identification of who was piloting what, and whose responsibility is tied to a particular drone.

And rogue drone flights are no joke. China has had so many rogue drones ground airplanes that DJI recently issued a $145,000 bounty for information that would help catch the pilots responsible. A rogue drone that goes undetected could take down a plane, and potentially kill people.

Flying over people is also a scary scenario—and this brings us to the second function of the registration system mentioned above, which has to do with public perception.

Just three days ago, cameras at Petco Park, the stadium belonging to the San Diego Padres, caught a drone being flown above the audience and then crashing into the stands.

That video is pretty scary. Imagine being in the stands, and being uncertain whether those drone blades are going to come crashing into you. Talk about bad PR.

To put this in a broader perspective, it’s projected that by 2020 over 7 million drones will have been sold in the U.S.

As drone ownership grows, incidents like the one at Petco Park are bound to occur, perhaps more and more and more frequently. A public outcry over drones hurting or even threatening to hurt people could lead to a severe legislative backlash, with laws that might drastically limit drone activities just as we are starting to see the industry really take off.

While the FAA’s registration system isn’t going to stop all rogue drone flights, it does serve to put some kind of check in place. Without it, we don’t have much to go on.

Taylor himself suggested one possible solution:

“There needs to be enforcement and education. Perhaps drone manufacturers should make you take a test before you are able to unlock their app in order to fly the drone.”

– John Taylor

But this solution relies on private companies making their own decisions, and doesn’t provide any kind of blanket protection against rogue flights, so it seems unlikely at best. Whatever happens next for drone hobbyists, it seems clear that this recent court decision will only be one chapter in a longer period of development regarding UAV regulations.

The post Court Rules Hobbyists No Longer Have to Register Drones with the FAA appeared first on UAV Coach.

Custom Drones that Carry People, VR, and Top Aerial Cinematography: An Interview with Droneworks Studios

We first heard about Droneworks Studios through their work with Casey Neistat for his HUMAN FLYING DRONE video.

Elaine Lozano and Justin Oakes, the co-owners of Droneworks Studios, were the ones who built the custom drone that lifts Casey Neistat into the sky. Justin is a former drone racer and, in addition to building the custom drone used in the video, he was the pilot for the project. He’s one of only a handful of people in the world who could have flown the monster drone—nicknamed Janet—used to make the video (learn more about how the video was made here).

Justin and Elaine build custom drones in order to do aerial cinematography for some of the coolest drone projects in the world, as well as doing work with Virtual Reality. We recently saw them in another YouTube video helping Casey Neistat on his latest project, in which YouTube stars will be making videos using only a smartphone.

Droneworks-studios-owners
Hard at Work—Elaine Lozano and Justin Oakes, Co-Owners of Droneworks Studios
We wanted to pick their brains on how they got started in the drone industry, the custom work they do, and what it takes to create high quality aerial cinematography. Read on to see what they had to say.
Note: Some of the questions were answered by Elaine or Justin individually. Unless otherwise noted, the question was answered by them both as a team.

Begin Interview:

UAV Coach: We were really wowed by you two in the HUMAN FLYING DRONE behind-the-scenes panel at the NYCDFF. You’ve built such an amazing business, where you get to build, fly, and shoot with custom drones, and it’s clear you’re both doing work you love (and killing it, we should add). How did it all start? Tell us about the creation of Droneworks Studios, and how you got from there to here.

Droneworks Studios (Elaine Lozano answering): Droneworks came to be very organically. Neither of us had any idea that our little passion project would turn into what it is today.

Justin has been building, flying, and racing RC cars, planes and helicopters since he was a little kid. I, on the other hand, was tired of having RC and drone parts on the dining table! I told Justin he had to turn this into something or I was going to go nuts. So Justin threw a camera on a drone for me to operate, and I stopped bugging him.

We basically combined both our passions and decided to take the chance at seeing what it could be, and then bam, Droneworks was created.

UAV Coach: Justin, you were the one responsible for flying the huge drone that lifted Casey into the air. Was it scary to have so much responsibility? What was it like to fly a drone that lifted a person off the ground?

droneworks-studios-5

Justin Oakes Piloting a Droneworks Custom Drone

Droneworks Studios (Justin Oakes answering): Not scary at all! So much time and effort was spent in testing that we had COMPLETE confidence in the aircraft. We had three people responsible for operating it and covering all the safety checks—the pilot (me), the person monitoring the ground station, and a visual observer watching for obstacles in the sky.

We also had the top stunt team from Hollywood dedicated solely to making sure Casey was rigged safely.

UAV Coach: Elaine, from what we understand you’re the one with a vision on set, who has a big picture you keep everyone working toward. Can you share your background (photography/cinematography, business, all of the above?), and tell us about your approach to turning a client’s ideas into a unified visual narrative?

droneworks-studios-2

Elaine Lozano On Site

Droneworks Studios (Elaine Lozano answering): The funny thing is you’d think I would have a background in film, but I couldn’t be further from it.

When Justin and I began the company I was pursuing medical school. Cinematography was really just a hobby. Neither of my parents approved of it as a career until well after we had already started the company. They thought I was nuts to leave medical school to start a drone company!

I might have thought the same thing at the time, but I just loved it so much that I had to find out where it would go. (My parents are now unbelievably supportive and completely understand why I chose to drop everything for Droneworks—they can see how passionate I am about it and how that translates into the work we create for our clients.)

I think the most important thing for achieving a client’s vision is being really flexible and staying on your toes when it comes to creating a shot. It’s hard for many people to grasp, but it’s important to be really fluid and know that sometimes a fully planned, storyboarded shot may not always be the right shot.

However, with aerials you never really know until you get up in the air! So I’ve seen that our biggest successes are not really in the execution of an exact shot, but being able to execute the meaning or story behind a shot.

UAV Coach: You do aerial cinematography and you build custom drones (as well as VR, which we’ll talk about in a moment). Can you tell us a little about your division of labor—how do you juggle the two operations? Is there overlap between those two aspects of your business, and if so, what does that look like?

Droneworks Studios: Droneworks doesn’t sell custom drones or custom drone accessories. We only build for our own use, and provide everything as a service. So we have a team dedicated just to making the finest aircraft possible.

Our creative team focuses solely on the execution of the client’s vision. The only overlap is when our creative and tech teams meet to brainstorm solutions for specific clients needs. So it’s not really an overlap, but more of a collaboration. There are 13 people who work at Droneworks. It’s definitely a major team effort!

Here are some more shots of the Droneworks team on site:

droneworks-studios-7

droneworks-studios-4

droneworks-studios-3

droneworks-studios-1

UAV Coach: Tell us about Droneworks VR. Is this an initiative in partnership with Samsung, or your own venture? What kinds of projects (other than Casey’s) have you worked on, and why did you start this new offshoot of Droneworks?

Droneworks Studios: Droneworks VR, Droneworks Aerial, and Droneworks Industrial are our primary operating arms. We are privately owned.

Our relationships with clients are more like partnerships than actual equity interests. We’ve filmed VR, aerials, and industrial projects all over the world for a long list of clients.

Droneworks VR was started to give the market a clearer way to understand what we offer. We do a lot more than fly drones. Droneworks VR was set up to make it easier for clients to understand the difference between the different aspects of our work (post-production, handheld, custom mounts, etc.).

UAV Coach: At :50 in the reel on your homepage there are two guys cutting a huge metal tube with circular saws. What the heck was that used for? A drone the size of King Kong?

Droneworks Studios’ Reel (referenced in the question above)

Droneworks Studios: That’s actually aerial footage from one of our industrial clients (haha!), not behind the scenes at Droneworks. I think they were making oil and gas pipelines. We haven’t updated our reel in a long time—that job was so many years ago!

UAV Coach: What drone(s) do you fly, and what cameras do you use?

Droneworks Studios: We fly all custom Droneworks platforms. We fly literally every camera on the market. We also fly all lenses and FIZ systems, in addition to LiDAR, thermal, infrared, etc.

Everything is custom made so we can fly anything our clients need/want. We like to tailor everything we do to our clients’ needs. If we don’t have a rig that can do what they need—like lift someone into the air while riding a snowboard—then we just build one!

Want to learn more about Droneworks Studios and their work? Check out these awesome videos to get a taste of the range of work they do.

This video of pro motocross/supercross racer Vann Martin is a lot of fun. The Droneworks team had to fly at speeds of up to 50 mph (through trees!) just to keep up with Vann.

Drones, Dirt Bikes & Pro-Moto/Supercross Racer Vann Martin

Droneworks Studios had one of the first aerial teams allowed to shoot within a state park. The video below shows the making of a video about the USS Texas, which is permanently situated in the San Jacinto Park, and is the world’s only remaining WWI era dreadnought battleship.

Behind the Scenes with the USS Texas (BB-35)

The post Custom Drones that Carry People, VR, and Top Aerial Cinematography: An Interview with Droneworks Studios appeared first on UAV Coach.

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