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Meet the Two Winners of Our Drone Technology College Scholarship

This year we launched the Drone Technology College Scholarship, which was created to provide financial support for college to students who demonstrate an interest in pushing the drone industry forward.

Each of our two scholarship recipients will receive $1,000 to support their college studies. We’re proud to announce the winners in this post—read on to meet our two winners, and to read their winning essays.


Scholarship applicants were evaluated based primarily on the strength of the essay they submitted, which was written on one of three topics:

  • How Drones Can Be Used to Do Good
  • How Drones Will Change Our World Over the Next Ten Years
  • How Drones Can Be Used for STEM Education

And now, without further ado, we’re proud to introduce the two scholarship winners of our very first Drone Technology College Scholarship.

Summer Roberts


Summer is a Junior at Cal Poly Pomona, where she is currently a Geography major with an emphasis in Geospatial Science. She is the Vice President of the CPP Geography Club, and she is a member of the AAG (American Association Geographers) and the CGS (California Geographical Society).

Summer plans to obtain her Remote Pilot Certificate to fly UAVs from the FAA, and she is currently pursuing a seat on the campus Drone Policy Committee, which helps ensure the reasonable and safe use of drones on campus.

Summer’s Winning Essay

Essay Topic: How Drones Can Be Used for STEM Education

Cal Poly Pomona’s “Learn by doing” approach has strongly encouraged the benefits of STEM education (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Learning with a more hands on approach, particularly at Cal Poly Pomona, there are a multitude of benefits for drones in the STEM education. The practical approach of STEM learning is beneficial when used through collaboration with other software, discovery, and having a ‘learn-by-doing’ mindset. Through the use of UAVs (Small Unmanned Vehicles/ Drones) students would be able to have a foundation built on an awareness of perspective and distortion, constantly being aware of industry trends and technology innovation.

Combining the use of drones with Remote Sensing and GIS (Geographic Information Systems) provides valuable opportunities for research and education. Drone capture is processed into ‘same day’ orthomosaics and surfaces from which we can extract information, uncover change, and open discovery. Drones are often referred to as ‘toys’ but if that definition works to attract more young people into learning applications and selecting a career path, as it did for me, so be it! An important factor to cover is the practical applications and lessons we need to emphasize for students entering the work force. Technology is always changing and it is crucial to keep the future workforce aware of technological advances. Not having been introduced to drones by my university gives me all the more reason to be the one to introduce them.

An example of how UAVs could be involved in STEM surrounds my own progression in research. During my Advanced GIS class in the Winter 2018 quarter at Cal Poly Pomona, I found out about the possibilities of drones. The world of drone applications became of interest to me during an assignment in Advanced GIS at Cal Poly Pomona. I chose my project to utilize UAVs in collecting imagery and data, then creating weekly updates through map production and/or field work.

Through this class, online data collection was always a dreaded task, and I wanted to collect my own information to present for our weekly presentations. Knowing this, I shared my vision on how drones can provide valuable imagery and surface modeling without having to use granular, outdated satellite imagery. Not surprisingly, my presentation inspired my Professor (Dr. Huh) who herself is now pursuing FAA 107 licensing and investing in two drones for use in teaching with the Geography department.

I envisioned the UAVs to be an integral part of my research and work within the field of Geography and Geospatial Science. I was honored to be included in a continuous project led by the Engineering/ Agricultural department at Cal Poly Pomona. The goal of the project is to determine the correlation between plant health, nutrient conditions, and water conditions using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) equipped with sensors to detect the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI). Geographic Information System (GIS) will be used to statistically map the biomass of crops to help determine the efficiency of plant growth. Through this project I have learned the power of learning things hands on.

Having students systematically collect consistent data through with a drone not only helps them gain an awareness of field work, but it introduces confidence into taking charge of one’s own research project on all aspects. The use of sUAV in the field of Geography provides wonderful STEM opportunities, particularly Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing, by engaging project-based lessons from the research question, collecting the data ourselves, understanding challenges, and overcoming problems to analyzing familiar data. This requires professional development. Not only are drones beneficial in the Geography/GIS world, drones could be used over a multitude of subjects. Some of these include math, or even plant science. Personally, math is a hard subject to grasp. Being a visual learner, by having an engaging tool, such as a drone, lessons could surround real world applications for equations, giving the lesson meaning. An example of using a drone for math would be measuring a certain area, or how to accurately utilize an area numerically. For plant science, by using a Sequoia sensor, a camera that captures the crop health analysis, students would be able to visually scout out where potential stressed areas are for a given crop and analyze the area accordingly. The possibilities are endless.

Drones provide a platform to teach in an alternate view. Learning from a book or gathering data online can only do so much. By have this vital tool, teachers have the choice of bringing their lessons to life. Drones offer a way to analyze data visually through a qualitative and quantitative understanding. Through this type of data collection, the data speaks out to a variety of different learning styles. By introducing UAVs to STEM education, not only will an excitement of learning be introduced, a new wave of visual learners will become confident in contributing to the fields.

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Benjamin Breiten


Ben is a student at the Hudson Valley Community College in Albany, NY. He’ll be graduating in May with an Associate’s degree in Electrical Engineering Technology and Electronics.

Originally a student at the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE), Ben decided to pursue an interest in electronic and robotic systems and appliances at Hudson Valley, where their curriculum has allowed him to focus on mechatronic applications. He’ll be returning to CNSE in the fall, and plans to finish a bachelor’s degree in Nanoscale Science and Engineering with a minor in Music by May 2019.

Ben holds a Remote Pilot Certificate, and currently works with UAVs through his business DR1 doing videography and photography, as well as drone repair. He plans to expand his drone work in the future, and include new possible offerings such as aerial thermography and aerial surveying.

Ben’s Winning Essay

Essay Topic: How Drones Will Change Our World Over the Next Ten Years

In the coming years, a coalescence of energy technology, design considerations, and improved processing and control capabilities will enable small Unmanned Aerial Systems (sUAS) to accomplish virtually any task—indoors or outside—from the air. This could include food production or animal population control via autonomous targeting and hunting. It can include augmenting shipping yards by adapting swarms to efficiently transport crates based on their prescribed weight, or simply shipping those packages themselves. This technology has the potential to become ubiquitous in daily life, conjuring images of a small, floating, Jetson-esque Rosie the Robot. The capacity for sUAS to improve our overall quality of life is limited only by our creativity and our technological node.

There are many specific fields to which sUAS technology is already being applied, such as agriculture, geographic mapping, cinema, and defense. These fields are growing very quickly with respect to the use of sUAS, and the introduction of these new and improved tools has entirely revamped or replaced current technologies. As it continues to develop and is embraced by other disciplines, the number, quality, and variety of applications of this technology will grow unabated. Not only is there plenty of room to expand in any number of established fields, but there are also opportunities to discover new applications for sUAS every day.

One application in particular that has attracted attention is aerial thermography. Exchanging the camera lens with an infrared lens gives a drone the capability of detecting electromagnetic radiation outside of our visible spectrum, namely in the infrared region. Infrared data is primarily utilized to determine the amount of thermal energy an object is emitting, and a thermal camera allows us to characterize that energy in the context of the surrounding environment. For firefighters, this could help locate a person during search and rescue, or help determine what fuel a fire is burning. Thermography is also frequently utilized in infrastructure to inspect cell towers, power lines, solar panels, and buildings for excess heating or heat loss. This application not only utilizes the aerial capabilities of the sUAS, but also expands our own visual senses to detect previously unseen radiation.

A second, and arguably more exciting, application is the research and development of UAS transport systems for manned use. At the end of 2017, companies in Dubai were testing both an autonomous quadcopter taxi service and personal quadcopters to outfit and augment police forces. These press releases, in conjunction with numerous YouTube videos of pilots manning their own aerial crafts, indicate sUAS technology is poised to bring modern transportation into the third dimension, relieving daily rush hour congestion and improving commutes across the board. This application is quite radical, and as such faces several hurdles. Policy, safety, reliability, and energy will be major factors to consider when realizing the incredible impact this technology will have. Additionally, it is now, in the technology’s youth, that it is most important for drone pilots and engineers to help lay a concrete foundation that will facilitate a smooth and timely integration of drones into our everyday lives.

At the intersection of these two applications lies an auspicious and pragmatic future for sUAS technology. Naturally, through incremental improvements, sUAS technology will grow more energy efficient, agile, and buoyant. In addition, sensing and detection technology is becoming more precise and compact and is increasingly being integrated with sUAS. With improved control algorithms, user feedback, and eventually machine learning, these machines can be designed and programmed as personal or municipal sentinels with enhanced and even customizable perception. For companies, this technology could partially or fully automate infrastructure inspections, search and rescue missions, shipping, high-rise maintenance, and GIS surveying, just to name a few. On an individual level, sUAS could be deployed daily for security, home and yard maintenance, and shopping, but could also be affordably enhanced for do-it-yourself thermal assessments, landscaping and gardening, or as a mobile toolbox and tool assistant. Advanced detection and mechanical capabilities will make sUAS the ultimate Swiss Army knife, with virtually no limit to the number and variety of commercial and consumer applications and adaptations.

The beauty of sUAS technology lies in the concert of harmonious design. Materials science, mechanical engineering, and electronic control systems each must be considered in the context of the other. In this way, designers may tap several different principles for system improvements and adaptations. As we experiment and explore a wider variety of applications, a growing body of knowledge will set precedence for the sensors and capabilities sUAS need to safely and effectively navigate the human world. When deployed in conjunction with mission trained pilots and application specific modifications and equipment, we enable these tools to augment our jobs, communities, and contributions to the world.

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Know a high school student interested in becoming certified to fly drones commercially? Tell them about our High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots.

The post Meet the Two Winners of Our Drone Technology College Scholarship appeared first on UAV Coach.

7 Tips to Win More Customers for Your Drone Business

If you own a drone business you already know how challenging it can be to drum up new customers. While it’s true that some drone pilots are able to start small and scale their business quickly, for many drone pilots it can be a challenge to find new work.

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We hear from drone pilots all the time with tips and creative ideas for how they’ve managed to grow their client base, and we’ve collected those tips into this list to help you grow your business.

Here are our seven tips to help you win more customers for your drone business—let’s dive in.


The first step in the process of growing your customer base is knowing who your customer is.

Before you start creating fliers, a website, or hitting the pavement to get customers, take a step back and make sure you understand who your ideal customer, or customers, are.

Maybe it will be realtors, or farmers, or maybe it will be local car dealerships who want aerial footage for their ads.

Make sure to consider the needs in your area—who do you think will actually hire you? This will help you define your ideal customer, and help you start to plan your business.

Determining your ideal customers is the first crucial step toward helping you figure out how to actually go out and get them.

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Keep business cards and a one pager on hand at all times. This is pretty simple, but really important.

Just think about it—if you’re out flying somewhere and someone asks if they might be able to hire you, you don’t want to miss that opportunity.

Having a business card and a one pager listing your services to give to that person on the spot could be the difference between you getting a new client or not.


If people in your area seem wary of trying out drone services, explore the option of providing potential customers with a preview of your services.

One way to do this is to create a demo reel so that people can understand your skills. A reel is always a good way to show people what you can do.

But if you’re just starting out, you may not have enough footage to create a reel. One commercial drone pilot we know who was just getting started set up appointments with all the realtors in his area when he first launched his aerial services business and offered to do his first shoot for free.

He did a small project for free, a realtor loved it, and this led to an ongoing relationship and one of his biggest accounts. Nine months later, he’s still getting work from that realtor.

On the other hand, some drone pilots feel like giving away services undervalues their work, and prefer not to go this route. At the end of the day, it’s totally up to you and what you think will be most effective to get you new customers.

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By outreach we mean contacting people who might be interested in your services. This could be calling, emailing, or leaving your card and one pager at their office.

Make sure you’re addressing their needs when you reach out—this means not just talking about drone services in general, but talking about how aerial shots could help a realtor sell more properties, or a construction foreman better understand the locations of his assets on site.

If they don’t get back—and many won’t—you can always try impressing them by sending them a few sample shots of relevant work that might appeal to them.

When it comes to sales, you want to walk the line between staying on someone’s radar and annoying them. But you can’t find new customers without a little hustle, so don’t be shy to get out there and contact people.

To give you an extreme example, we know one pilot who courted a new customer by taking sunrise shots of their castle in upstate New York. Up until that point the team running the property had ignored him, but when they saw his pictures they hired him shortly afterward.


This also might sound obvious, but it’s another thing that’s really important when you’re trying to grow a client base for your business.

When you approach networking, don’t be casual about who you might know that does this or that.

Instead, try writing out a list of contacts you have in industries likely to need drone services. Then, instead of contacting them off the cuff, think about their particular needs and how you might be able to showcase the value you can provide for them.

Don’t just assume that knowing someone means they’ll hire you or refer you. Instead, put in the legwork and wow them with your professionalism.


One of the easiest ways to grow your customer base is to leverage your happy customers by giving them an incentive for telling other people about your services.

There are lots of ways to structure a referral program, and you’ll probably be able to discover what works best for you through trial and error.

Try offering customers a discount, a free package, or some other incentive for every referral they give you that leads to work.

And remember to make it easy on those customers doing the referrals—provide some kind of card or code, or some way for the people they’re referring to easily identify where they found out about you, so your existing customers can easily get whatever reward you might have promised for the referral.

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All of the tips up to this point have covered ways to bring in new potential customers and let them know about your drone services, and this is really important.

But it’s also important to know how to sell—that is, to know how to get a potential customer to actually hire you.

While some people might say that sales means knowing your talking points and sticking to them, the truth is that most people don’t want to be talked at. What they want is someone who will listen to their problems, and try to find solutions.

Before meeting with a potential client, try to do some research on their business and have some idea about the type of work they might need. If you really want to impress them, take a few test shots and have them on hand for the meeting.

During the meeting, ask them what they need, and remember that they might not fully know. Talk them through different options, and hold off on talking about money until you really understand what they’re looking for, so you can propose a price that will actually address the full scope of the work they need.

By listening less than you talk, you’ll be nurturing a long term relationship, and over time you’ll get more customers this way.

We hope you found this list useful for your efforts to grow your client base. Now go out there and get some new customers!

The post 7 Tips to Win More Customers for Your Drone Business appeared first on UAV Coach.

Introducing Scholar Farms: Training for Drone Pilots Who Want to Use Drones in Vegetation Mapping

Recently we met Dr. Greg Crutsinger, the founder of Scholar Farms, which is a consultancy that specializes in training for using drones for vegetation mapping.

As drone applications have proliferated over the last few years, vegetation mapping has been adopted in a variety of scenarios.

A little while back we interviewed Dr. Richard Alward, a biologist who uses drones in his work as a plant ecologist. Richard uses data collected by drone to create vegetation maps that help him keep gas and oil companies accountable for the reclamation work they’re supposed to do.

A slide from one of Richard’s presentations containing a vegetation map
created with data collected by drone

Researchers are also using drone vegetation data in their work. A while ago we wrote about a study that relied on data collected via aerial thermography to create vegetation maps that were used in the cultivation and phenotyping of cereals.

And of course farmers are using vegetation mapping to optimize yields through precision agriculture.


About Scholar Farms

Scholar Farms was founded from Greg’s extensive experience in academic research and teaching.

Drones have helped me save lots and lots of time, and they’ve also helped improve accountability for some of these companies that are responsible for restoring the areas where they drilled.

– Dr. Greg Crutsinger

While he was conducting research in the field as a PhD in Ecology and evolutionary biology, Greg caught the drone bug, and he began testing the use of UAVs on plant experiments. He became especially interested in how autonomous drone technology could enable collecting data that could impact agriculture, and how drones would allow sensors to be deployed in new and exciting ways to impact research and assessment throughout a growing season.

Check out our interview with Greg at AUVSI XPONENTIAL this year

Greg became so intrigued by the potential drones presented that he ended up leaving the safety net of academia to pursue his passion for drone technology. He joined the drone industry in 2015 as the Academic Programs Director at 3D Robotics. From there he went on to be a Sales Director at Pix4D and Parrot before founding Scholar Farms.

Scholar Farms‘ core offerings are online trainings for using drones in vegetation mapping. They recently launched Phytomappers Pro, a masterclass for vegetation mapping using drones.

The course was built for professionals, including drone service providers, agronomists, land managers, and researchers. It was built from the ground up, covering drone hardware, sensors, data collection and analytics all related to plants. It also provides a foundation in the theory behind vegetation indices, such as NDVI, and how to use and interpret them. Although the class is focused on plants, it was really built for a broad audience. So, whether you know very little about plants or are a professional agronomist, the course has something to offer everyone.

Want to learn more about using a drone for vegetation mapping? Visit the Scholar Farms website now

If you decide to enroll in one of Scholar Farm’s paid courses, make sure to use promo code FARMDRONE50 to get $50 off. (Just a note—this code is only good for 30 days, so it will expire on June 18, 2018.)

Want to learn more about what Scholar Farms does? Check out these YouTube videos highlighting their work training drone pilots to do vegetation mapping:


The post Introducing Scholar Farms: Training for Drone Pilots Who Want to Use Drones in Vegetation Mapping appeared first on UAV Coach.

A Look at the 10 UAS Integration Pilot Program Winners—Who They Are and What They Plan to Do

Recently the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the names of ten state and local and governments selected to conduct flight tests as part of the UAS Integration Pilot Program.

The ten programs that were selected will be allowed to test various types of drone operations currently prohibited by the FAA’s Part 107 rules over the next two and a half years. Some of the types of flying included in the list for testing are BVLOS flights, drone delivery, night flying, and flying over people. The program will also investigate other operational concepts, such as detect-and-avoid technologies and the reliability and security of data links between pilot and aircraft—these investigations will help in the effort to develop Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM) in the U.S.

Big companies like Uber, Google (through Project Wing), Intel, Apple, FedEx, Microsoft, and AT&T were in the group of those selected, along with drone industry heavies AirMap, PrecisionHawk, and AirBus. Amazon, which has been working on drone deliveries for years, and drone industry giant DJI, both did not make the list.

The Program is expected to foster a meaningful dialogue on the balance between local and national interests related to UAS integration, and provide actionable information to the USDOT on expanded and universal integration of UAS into the National Airspace System.


Here’s a map showing the locations of the ten winning proposals (see the interactive map here on the FAA’s site):


Read on to learn more about each of the winners.

1) Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Durant, Oklahoma


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on agricultural, public safety and infrastructure inspections, with planned Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLOS) operations over people and nighttime operations.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The proposal highlights plans to invest in mobile ground-based detect and avoid radars and advanced weather infrastructure. The awardee, along with partners CNN and the Green Valley Farms Living Laboratory, has an aggressive 90-day schedule for high-profile Extended Visual Line of Sight (EVLOS) and night operations. The data obtained from these operations will be broadly applicable, and could extend to a wide range of operations and geographical locations.

2) City of San Diego, California


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on border protection and package delivery of food, with a secondary focus on international commerce, Smart City/autonomous vehicle interoperability and surveillance.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The awardee will conduct UAS operations and examine new technologies not in use today by leveraging its indoor testing facilities and various drone landing stations and ports. The proposal would employ a variety of available communications technologies, including 5G test networks and the 4G LTE cellular network and AT&T’s national first responder network authority (FirstNet.) These UAS operations will provide solid data to improve UAS specific ID & Tracking systems, necessary for UAS integration into the National Airspace System.

3) Innovation and Entrepreneurship Investment Authority, Herndon, Virginia


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal seeks to facilitate package delivery in rural and urban settings. It includes the use of enabling technologies such as detect and avoid, identification and tracking, radar systems, and mapping tools.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The awardee seeks to leverage existing expertise through partnerships with the Virginia Tech UAS Test Site, NASA, and stakeholders with cyber security expertise. Data obtained through these diverse operations and varied operating environments will provide significant, scalable benefits to the agency and industry.

4) Kansas Department of Transportation


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal deploys UAS to support beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations in rural communities. It seeks to leverage a statewide unmanned traffic management system to facilitate precision agriculture operations.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: Operations will use a range of technologies, such as detect and avoid, ADS-B, satellite communications and geo-fencing. The program will use existing in-state resources such as fiber optic networks and UAS Traffic Management (UTM). The awardee has a robust community involvement plan that supports the diverse operations that are planned.

5) Lee County Mosquito Control District


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on low-altitude aerial applications to control/surveille the mosquito population using a 1500-lb. UAS.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The proposal includes scalable solutions that take into account a broad range of current and future technologies that include ground-based detect and avoid radar systems that would integrate ADS-B, infrared imaging and satellite technology. The proposal includes night operations, BVLOS and operations over people.

6) Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on the inspection of FedEx aircraft and autonomous operations that support airport operations such as perimeter security surveillance and package delivery. Proposed operations include working with a UTM concept that would also work with manned air traffic.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: Teaming with FedEx and Agricenter International, the awardee would support an integrated environment of urban, airport, private property and farmland that would yield an estimated $500 million annual benefit to the economy. Data collected would not only serve UAS, but work with normal air traffic—truly advancing integration.

7) North Carolina Department of Transportation


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal seeks to test localized package delivery within a defined airspace by establishing drone delivery stations in local communities. This approach enables small businesses to utilize this delivery platform for commercial purposes.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The proposal seeks to operate over human beings, beyond visual line of sight and at night, and seeks to use a variety of technological tools to enable these advanced operations. Tools include ADS-B, detect and avoid technologies, UTM and radar technologies. The data collected from these diverse operations will significantly enhance safe UAS integration into the National Airspace System.

8) North Dakota Department of Transportation


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal includes a wide variety of diverse operations that incorporate advanced technologies that seek to expand UAS operations at night and Beyond Visual Line of Sight. The proposal will focus on data from four criteria: external systems, aircraft system technologies, training requirements, and processes and procedures.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: Operations will be in multiple types of airspaces ranging from rural to urban areas. Working with experienced UAS research partners will lead to scalable operations for a multitude of UAS industries including linear infrastructure inspections, crop health monitoring, and media reporting and emergency response.

9) City of Reno, Nevada


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal focuses on the time-sensitive delivery of life-saving medical equipment, such as medical defibrillators in emergency situations in both urban and rural environments.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The awardee will integrate additional infrastructure such as radar and weather data in order to expand the UAS capability so it could save up to 28-34 lives per year, using one drone in a three-mile city radius. This proposal considers a nationwide scalable model for medical delivery operations and has several commercial medical partners.

10) University of Alaska—Fairbanks, AK


PROPOSAL DESCRIPTION: The proposal’s primary focus is pipeline inspection and surveying in remote areas and harsh climatic conditions, but it has proposed a broad range of other types of operations in urban and rural areas, ranging from public safety to UAS detection.

PROJECT HIGHLIGHTS AND BENEFITS: The awardee uses enabling technologies that include collision avoidance, detect and avoid, ADS-B, differential GPS, satellite services, infrared imaging and UTM. Operations in remote areas provide a unique opportunity to evaluate data on several advanced technologies. The unique climate and operating environment also provide an opportunity not available to other awardees.

When it comes to the potential for these ten winning proposals and what they represent for U.S. governmental interest in pushing the drone industry forward, this quote from Brian Wynne does a nice job summing things up:

The participants selected for the FAA’s UAS Integration Pilot Program represent a commitment by governments at all levels to safely and efficiently integrate UAS into the national airspace.

– Brian Wynne, President and CEO of AUVSI

The post A Look at the 10 UAS Integration Pilot Program Winners—Who They Are and What They Plan to Do appeared first on UAV Coach.

65 Lives Saved by Drone: New DJI Report Highlights Emerging Trends In Drone Rescue Operations

DJI recently released a report highlighting the 65 people who were saved by drones from May 2017 to April 2018, at least 22 of whom were in mortal danger.

The new report, “More Lives Saved: A Year of Drone Rescues Around the World,” explores new trends and draws unique conclusions about how drones are being utilized in search and rescue missions as well as resource deliveries—like this beef jerky and cookies delivery—across the globe.

A police officer in the UK comes to the aid of an unconscious man in a ditch

The report largely attributes the upsurge of drone use in public safety missions to three factors: the rapid development and innovation of drone technology, the expansion of drone usage by first responders, and increasingly thorough aviation regulations.

One thing to note: because the list was compiled from mainly English-language news reports, the total count of 65 people is likely less than the true count of drone rescues from around the world. Nevertheless, we can still see a few trends emerging from this report in terms of how drones are being used for good.

The First Trend: Improvements in Drone Technology

Thermal imaging cameras, augmented-reality overlays, and real-time image analysis have all been developed specifically for use by first-responders, and other technological innovations created for public use have been similarly adopted.

Thermal imaging cameras attached to UAVs helped save at least 15 of the 65 people highlighted in the report. The victims, who were hidden from view by either darkness or other obstacles, were located only when drones were introduced into the rescue operation.

The report details an incident in North Carolina in which an 11 year old girl went missing. It turned out that she had fallen asleep under leaves in a thicket on a 30-degree night.

As reported by local media, “It was so dark in the woods that even with flashlights, deputies walked right past the child and had to be redirected back to her by the drone pilot.”

The Second Trend: Rapid Adoption by First Responders

The rescues outlined in DJI’s report occured over 27 separate incidents.

Many public agencies use their drones over a period of months before they are credited with a drone-aided rescue operation. These agencies have made the deployment of drones standard operating procedure, increasing the likelihood that they will be able to locate a missing person or protect lives and property.

Check out this photo of two lost hikers waving to the drone that found them on a Colorado mountainside:

Image courtesy of Douglas County Search and Rescue

Not only that, but paramedics, police, and fire departments are also utilizing drones to assess safety risks for their own personnel.

In Ontario, Canada last winter, paramedics discovered that a snowmobiler had vanished under the ice of a frozen lake during a snowstorm. After using their drone to determine that the victim had fallen in over a kilometer offshore, the rescue mission became instead a recovery mission.

I strongly believe we prevented further injury or death of a first responder.

– Michael Nolen, Renfrew County Chief Paramedic

The Third Trend: Smart Aviation Regulations

Roughly half of the 65 people saved (32, to be exact) were from the United States.

While this fact could reflect a bias in English-language news reports (which provided the the majority of the information used in creating the report), it very well might reflect the value of the FAA’s Part 107 drone rules issued in August of 2016. According to the report, the Part 107 regulations “gave drone pilots a clear, reasonable path to be certified to fly drones for professional purposes, and has greatly increased the number of public safety agencies using drones.”

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However, there is still a ways to go to make these rules work for first responders.

Part 107 pilots are restricted from flying at night, over people, and beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS). While a sizable number of waivers have been granted in these areas, DJI’s report reminds us: “Drones cannot be used widely for lifesaving work unless laws and regulations allow and encourage it.”

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