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AUVSI to Emphasize STEM Education at XPONENTIAL Next Month

As you might already know, we have a soft spot for STEM studies—the acronym stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics—and the ways in which they dovetail with a passion for drones and drone technology.

Last year we launched our High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots, which provides free access to Drone Pilot Ground School for qualifying high school students to help them pass the FAA’s Aeronautical Knowledge Test. (By the way, since launching we’ve processed over 90 applications!)

auvsi stem drones
Image source

So of course we’re excited about AUVSI’s emphasis on STEM education this year at their upcoming XPONENTIAL conference, which will be held in Denver, Colorado from April 30 to May 3.

[Want to win a free VIP pass to AUVSI XPONENTIAL worth almost $2,000? See this Facebook post for details on how you can enter to win. (Entries accepted until Monday, 3/26.)]

AUVSI is committed to creating opportunities at XPONENTIAL to inspire students, women, young professionals, and those new to unmanned systems with relevant and engaging programs to expand their skills, network with thought leaders, and see emerging technologies.

– Brian Wynne, President and CEO of AUVSI

When you review the list of STEM-focused events that will be held at XPONENTIAL this year, you can see how AUVSI is really actualizing their mission to promote STEM studies and grow the future STEM workforce.

Take a look:


Women and Diversity in Robotics

Attendees of this session will meet in small groups to engage on emerging and impactful topics in the unmanned systems and robotics communities.
The forum will feature speed networking with thought leaders to review STEM opportunities for career-focused women and girls.


This buildathon/hackathon tasks participants with developing solutions to address challenges facing unmanned systems. Teams will use critical thinking to conceive, design and build their inventions during a timed competition. XBuild will take place prior to XPONENTIAL.
Final projects will be displayed on the XPONENTIAL show floor as a representation of innovation and collaboration.

Growing the Industry Hub

This dedicated area in the XPONENTIAL exhibit hall is part of AUVSI’s mission to “grow and groom the future unmanned systems workforce.” It will be a place where students can learn about the STEM programs available at the conference, as well as what AUVSI is doing beyond the scope of the conference itself to foster and cultivate the next generation of innovators and leaders.


Youth robotics is growing in popularity across the U.S., and AUVSI is getting in on the action.
RoboNation is a series of student robotics competitions organized by the AUVSI Foundation as an investment in the development of aspiring engineers. During XPONENTIAL, an area of the show floor will be dedicated to showcasing the winners of these competitions—we’re excited to see what students come up, and to see their ingenuity on display.


AUVSI will be welcoming middle and high school students from the Denver area to tour the AUVSI XPONENTIAL exhibit hall. The RoboTour will help this future generation of scientists and engineers learn about unmanned systems and introduce them to emerging technologies and trends.

Young Professionals Reception

This is a networking session for professionals who are new to unmanned systems, where they can learn from the experience and guidance of seasoned leaders, and also get a chance to meet and mentor younger students who are interested in joining the industry.

In addition to the STEM programming, AUVSI’s XPONENTIAL conference will feature more than 200 educational sessions and an exhibit hall with more than 725 cutting-edge unmanned companies from around the world, providing information about the future of unmanned systems policy, technology, business solutions, and trending topics.


Want to win a free VIP pass to AUVSI XPONENTIAL? Check out this Facebook to find out how you can enter to win. (Entries accepted until Monday, 3/26).

If you want to buy passes at a discounted rate, you can do so here using the code UAVCOACH18 to save $50 off the XPO Hall Pass, $100 off the Full Conference, or $150 off a VIP Pass.

The post AUVSI to Emphasize STEM Education at XPONENTIAL Next Month appeared first on UAV Coach.

How to Get Hired for, Price, and Execute a Large Scale Aerial Project: An Interview with Professional Photographer and Videographer Clifford Pickett

We met Clifford Pickett recently when he sent us some shots of a big aerial project he did for the State University of New York (SUNY).

Check out these shots from the project:

Photo credit: Clifford Pickett

Photo credit: Clifford Pickett

Photo credit: Clifford Pickett

We were impressed by the scope of the project and the quality of Clifford’s work, so we wanted to talk to him to learn more about how he got the job, how he priced it, and how he went about planning and executing such a big project.

Begin interview:

How did you get the SUNY job?

Persistence, is the short answer.

The back story is, a while back I came across this beautiful castle in Westchester, New York just a few miles down the road from where I live.

I looked it up online, and I didn’t see too many aerial photographs of it, so I tried reaching out to them but wasn’t able to get ahold of anyone.

So I photographed the castle during a couple of sunrises, and sent them an email with some of the images, saying I’d like to work with them.

They replied right away, and they loved the images. And since then they’ve been a long-term client.

Fast forward a few years, and SUNY was going to hold a conference at that castle and someone from SUNY contacted me to see if they could use my images of the castle to promote the conference. So that was my first introduction at SUNY.

Some time later they were planning a large reunion at SUNY, and they wanted to do a big celebration. There was a lot of new architecture, and they’d done a lot of cleaning and really made the campus look great, and they wanted to document things as they were.

And that’s how I ended up getting hired to do this project.

Photo credit: Clifford Pickett

Tell us about executing this project. How did you plan for it?

Big picture, I wanted to make sure I had extra time in case things went wrong.

When you work with aerial, the landscape is critical. And with the SUNY project being tied to the timing of the fall foliage, I knew that we were looking at a little bit of a lottery—between travel and weather, possible fog, which we did have, and how long the leaves stay on the trees, there’s always a chance you might miss your window.

In a controlled environment, when you’re working in a studio and you’re bringing in your lighting, that’s different.

But when you’re working outside, it’s important to have a little bit of leeway and give yourself longer than you think you actually need for the shoot.

So I made sure to have extra time built into my schedule, just in case. I went up a few days early, and built that time into the proposed budget.

In the end, I was able to deliver more than they had initially expected, even though the first day on shoot was overcast, foggy, and raining.

Photo credit: Clifford Pickett

How did you approach pricing for this project?

My approach to pricing can vary depending on the specifics of the project, but in general I like to price everything up front as a single package: the cost of transportation, lodging, my time on the day of shooting, and the images themselves.

This means that the upfront number I present might seem high, especially if someone has never hired a professional photographer before. But it also means that I’m being completely transparent about pricing, and there won’t be any hidden costs that will pop up later.

And this is what I emphasize when going over the packaging price. I also like taking this approach when working with a large institution like SUNY, where payment is usually subject to bureaucratic procedures, and it’s easier to just get permission to pay once for a pre-approved amount.

The real value here is that, once that price is agreed to, I’m promising to take care of everything else. They don’t need to find me lodging or transportation, or worry about a per diem or separate reimbursements. It’s all included.

Is that how you usually price things?

I do typically approach pricing like this, in lump sum, because I think it’s just a lot more practical.

I don’t like how some people throw in add-ons to a project, and essentially present a client with one number up front, knowing that the project could cost a lot more by the time it’s done.

I’d rather just work with clients so that they can understand the value up front, and give them the price for the full package without anything hidden in the pricing.

Of course, pricing does vary by location. In New York City, for example, work will cost more than in other locations in the U.S.

Photo credit: Clifford Pickett

[Want some more info on how to price your aerial services? Check out this thread on our community forum.]

Talk us through your sales process. How do you find new clients, and how do you close deals with them?

I like to reach out to the decision maker in an organization and try to set up a meeting. If I can get an introduction that’s great, but it’s not necessary.

I always make sure to research the potential client before that first meeting, whether it’s a hotel, a commercial property, or a university.

I look at what they already have in terms of photography, and what it looks like they need. This really helps you get a feel for the scale of the work they might want, and a rough sense for what their budget might be.

Obviously, it’s going to be a different package for a small seaside motel, than for a large resort in a popular tourist city.

I also make sure not to talk about pricing until I meet with the potential customer. Meeting face to face has an x factor that is really important. I’ve always found that’s it’s important to meet in person before you talk numbers.

Usually I’ll take a few shot ahead of time, or I’ll put together a private page that I can send to the decision maker. I’ll explain to them this is the work I’ve done, and if I have the time I will do some shoots of sunrises or sunsets a day or two before. I’ll also explain what I’d like to do for the project, and this gives them something in their hands, and it gets me a foot in the door to have a conversation.

After we’ve talked and I get a better sense for what they want, that’s when we can figure out pricing. But I don’t go into a meeting with a set price in mind—it really does depend on the scale of the work, the scope of the project, and that conversation with that decision maker.

All of this is so much better, and more successful for both the customer and me, than just a cold email saying, “Hey, here’s my price structure, and you can take it take it or leave it.”

What drones do you fly, and what cameras do you use?

I fly a Phantom 2, a Phantom 4 Pro, and a Mavic Pro. Right now I’m using a GoPro on the Phantom 2, but I work with several other cameras as well.

The post How to Get Hired for, Price, and Execute a Large Scale Aerial Project: An Interview with Professional Photographer and Videographer Clifford Pickett appeared first on UAV Coach.

Say What? Drones Used as a Light Source Help Create “Mountain Halo” Night Landscape Shots

Chicago-based photographer Reuben Wu has been using drones to create what he calls mountain halo shots, and they are incredible.

Here are some of our favorites:

drone mountain halo 3
Photo credit: Reuben Wu

drone mountain halo light
Photo credit: Reuben Wu

mountain halo drone
Photo credit: Reuben Wu

It’s important to note that drones were used in an unusual way for this project—as the light source, and not to capture the images themselves.

Using long exposures and programming his DJI Phantom to orbit around a mountain as a point of interest, Reuben was able to create the visual representation of a continuous halo of light around a mountain—or a bright point, or a squiggle, as the case might be.

Reuben has said that even though he spends lots of time planning and executing these photos the project is still experimental in nature, and he’s really just curious to see what can be done using drones as a light source coupled with long exposures.

Before embarking on this mountain halo project, Reuben had already made a name for himself with his Lux Noctis work, in which he uses drone-mounted lights to give landscapes an erie, out-of-this-world kind of look, which has been referred to as “painting” nocturnal landscape with light through multiple exposures.


Reuben sharing his process

All of Reuben’s work is shot in remote landscapes, mountains and deserts, where he can pass long periods of time getting multiple exposures for his shots.

According to Wu, lots of research goes into his work.

He spends time looking at maps, seasonality of light, tourist flow, and moon cycles. When he’s picked an area where he wants to shoot, he’ll spend the day planning the location and composition. Once he’s ready, he’ll wait until the sun goes down so that he can start shooting.

It’s important to him to keep his work kit portable so that he can move around to remote locations, so he can be in solitude while creating these shots.

The mountain halo shots weren’t something he intentionally set out to capture at first, but were more of an organic outgrowth from his work outdoors and his interest in using drones as light sources.

While shooting at night, he started playing with long exposures to capture the light paths of his drone against mountains and other landscape features, and found that the trails of light added a magical element to his night photographs.

Out of this first realization grew the “mountain halo” pictures showcased here in this article.

My childhood dream was to have a flying camera—being able to see landscapes from impossible perspectives. So it was an important step in my photography to start using a remote moving camera.

– Reuben Wu

In addition to these projects, Reuben Wu is a musician and plays in the band Ladytron.

Here are some more shots taken by Reuben, where drones were used as light sources.

mountain halo drone light
Photo credit: Reuben Wu

mountain halo drone
Photo credit: Reuben Wu

drone light mountain halo

Photo credit: Reuben Wu

The post Say What? Drones Used as a Light Source Help Create “Mountain Halo” Night Landscape Shots appeared first on UAV Coach.

Shortlist for Sony’s 2018 World Photography Awards Contains Significant Portion of Drone Pictures

The shortlist of finalists for Sony’s 2018 World Photography Awards came out recently, and it shows just how mainstream drones have become in the photography world.

If you haven’t heard of them, the Sony World Photography Awards are a huge, international competition.

Over 319,000 images were entered this year from photographers located all around the world, with awards being granted across four distinct competitions:

  • Professional: 10 categories judging a body of work
  • Open: 10 categories, reward a single image
  • Youth: Photographers ages 12 to 19—judged on a single image
  • Student: Students studying photography

One thing that stands out this year is that across many of the categories—architecture, landscapes, and sports, to name a few—many of the best pictures were taken by DJI drones.

Keep in mind, the contest is not drone-specific.

Rather, it’s a place where some of the top photographic talent living today has the chance to showcase their very best work. And shots captured by drone seem to have stolen the show this year, in many instances.

There was a very significant change in the entries to the Open [single image] competition this year, as so many more were drone images. The same criteria applies to drone photographers as land or sea-based; the content has to have something special—composition, impact, skill, portraying something special or different or informing in a new way.

– Zelda Cheatle, Head Judge

Sony will announce the winners for each competition on April 19th.

Once the winners are announced, all of the competition’s photos will be put on display in London at the 2018 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition from April 20 to May 6, where the work of over 600 photographers will being featured, including winners, finalists, and commended images.

Now we’ll get out of the way, and let these pictures speak for themselves.


Location: Zhuzhou, Hunan Province, China
Photo Credit: Ming Luo/Sony World Photography Awards


Location: Glacial River in Iceland
Photo Credit: Manish Mamtani/Sony World Photography Awards


Location: Yellow Stone Forest in Gansu province, China.
Photo Credit: Li Wang/Sony World Photography Awards


Location: Scala dei Turchi (“The Turkish Steps”), Sicily
Photo Credit: Placido Faranda/Sony World Photography Awards


Location: Guigong City, Guangxi Province, China
Photo Credit: Shifang Lin/Sony World Photography Awards


Location: China (no specific location provided)
Photo Credit: Xiaoxiao Liu/Sony World Photography Awards


Location: China (no specific location provided)
Photo Credit: Chaoyang Cai/Sony World Photography Awards

The post Shortlist for Sony’s 2018 World Photography Awards Contains Significant Portion of Drone Pictures appeared first on UAV Coach.

DroneBase Rolls out Instant Airspace Authorizations through Deep Linking with AirMap

Last week the FAA shared a timeline for rolling out LAANC capabilities throughout the U.S.

This is huge news, because it means that instant airspace authorizations are coming nationwide.

Image source

After the rollout is complete, pilots who want to operate in controlled airspace where LAANC has been turned on will be able to get immediate permission to do so, instead of having to submit an airspace authorization request and wait up to 90 days for an answer.

This week, right on the heels of that good news, DroneBase announced the integration of LAANC capabilities into their app through deep linking with AirMap.

This new integration means that DroneBase pilots will now be able to get instant airspace authorizations to fly in controlled airspace in those areas where LAANC is already in place (you can see a full list of those airports here). It also means that, as LAANC capabilities are turned on in other areas over the next year, instant airspace authorizations will be available to DroneBase pilots right away within the DroneBase app.

Why This Is a Big Deal

We spoke recently to Nick Osgood, Head of Operations at DroneBase, who told us that adding LAANC capabilities to their app was critical for both pilots and customers.

For pilots who have missions in restricted airspace, it means the skies are more open so that they can fly missions right away (where LAANC is available, of course). For customers who need work done in restricted airspace, it means they can get quick service, and aren’t faced with the delays and uncertainty that come with waiting on a pilot to go through the manual airspace authorization process.

The problem that DroneBase pilots often face, which is common for all drone service providers, is that potential customers often want to receive services right away.

For instance, if a large insurance company is trying to process a large number of insurance claims following a storm, there will be a big demand in that area for aerial data on the houses where people have made claims.

But if any of those houses are within five miles of an airport, the pilot can’t fly, and has to submit a request for airspace authorization.

Having to tell a potential customer that you may not be able to fly for three more months means that you may lose the business to someone who already has authorization, or to someone who is willing to fly illegally (of course, the latter isn’t usually the case when dealing with bigger companies, but it’s still a scenario that certified commercial drone pilots run into).

LAANC is a game-changer for DroneBase because it opens up locations that were previously difficult to fly in due to regulations and airspace restrictions. Even though many of our drone flights would have never impacted manned aircraft, the sheer proximity of certain locations to nearby airports made it impossible to fly.

– Nick Osgood, DroneBase Head of Operations

As LAANC capabilities get rolled out throughout the U.S., DroneBase pilots will be able to work in those areas that fall within restricted airspace immediately. And this is a good thing. It means more work for certified pilots, and more incentives for compliance among customers who are eager to have their aerial services processed quickly.


How Does It Work

DroneBase pilots will now be able to get automatic airspace authorizations within their DroneBase app in those areas where LAANC capabilities have been turned on.

(Want to learn more about becoming a DroneBase pilot? Check out this article.)

If you’re in an area with LAANC-enabled airspace, the DroneBase app will take you through the approval process. In most cases, according to DroneBase, pilots will receive automatic approval in a matter of seconds.

The instant authorizations work through AirMap’s LAANC Deep Linking capability, which essentially allows drone pilots to transfer flight plan information between AirMap and any other integrated app.


Six companies have now integrated with AirMap to provide LAANC capabilities: 3DR, Betterview, Control Tower, DroneDeploy, Measure, and DroneBase.

On a related note, last week the FAA shared that they’ll be accepting applications from other companies who would like to provide LAANC capabilities themselves from April 16 to May 16.

This will certainly open things up even further when it comes to making instant airspace authorizations accessible to all drone pilots. For now AirMap’s Deep Linking is helping to share access to LAANC, and DroneBase’s pilots and customers are the latest group to benefit from that access.

The post DroneBase Rolls out Instant Airspace Authorizations through Deep Linking with AirMap appeared first on UAV Coach.

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