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Fighting Bad Press: 14 Inspiring Examples of Drones Doing Good around the Globe

One of the things we hear all the time about the drone industry is how lucrative everyone predicts it will be (not to mention how lucrative it already is). Article after article talks about projections for the future, and how VC investors are pouring money into drone startups.

We also hear a lot about drones being used to kill people overseas, both by the U.S. government, and more recently by terrorist organizations.

Add to this the concerns the industry has had to work through surrounding privacy and people worried about having buzzing aerial nuisances flying over their homes, and it can feel like we still have a long ways to go toward changing the public perception about drones and their daily usefulness in the world.

But we all know that there’s a lot more to drones.

Drones do lots of good in the world, and the ways they can be used for good seem to be growing every day. (There’s even a “UA Drones for Good” competition held in Dubai every year.)

Here is our list of some of the ways that drones are being used for good right now. Know of others? Reach out and let us know on Twitter using the hashtag #dronesforgood.

We’d love to see this list grow!

1. Providing WiFi and Cell Service in Disaster Scenarios

The FAA has officially approved the use of drones to restore cell service in Puerto Rico, following the devastation brought about there by Hurricane Maria.

The drones used for these operations are called Flying COWs (Cell on Wings), and were created by AT&T to act like a flying cell tower. When operational, these drones are able to quickly restore voice, data, and internet service to those who have been without them following a huge disaster, such as a hurricane or earthquake.

In the next few years, we hope to see more and more of these drones keeping us connected right after disasters, at times when we previously would have expected to lose coverage for weeks or even months.

Watch this video to learn more about how drones are helping restore connectivity in Puerto Rico:


2. Inexpensive Mapping

As drones become cheaper, they’re becoming a viable tool for countries with fewer resources to use for mapping projects.

The Zanzibar mapping initiative, featured in the video below, has the goal of creating a high resolution map of the islands of Zanzibar and Pemba, covering an area of over 1400 square miles, by using low-cost drones instead of satellite images or manned planes.

These maps are not purely informational. Zanzibar Commission for Lands will use the maps for better planning, land tenure, and environmental monitoring, which means that drones are playing a vital role in helping to implement sustainable practices in Zanzibar.


3. Assistance Following Hurricanes and Storms

During the devastating hurricane season of 2017 drones came to the rescue in many different locales and scenarios, from helping in Houston after Hurricane Harvey to helping in Miami after Hurricane Irma.

Drones were used to identify the location of hurricane survivors that needed to be rescued, to assess damage, to evaluate routes toward saving those caught up in flood conditions, and to collect vital information on the status of places that would otherwise be impossible to reach.


During Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina last year, a drone helped locate a man trapped in his home during a flood so that authorities could rescue him.


4. Mapping and Preserving Archaeological Sites

As time passes, archaeological sites can become degraded, and even fall into danger of disappearing beyond recognition.

Drones are helping archaeologists to create detailed 3D maps of important sites, so that even if they do fade with time, an accurate replica will persist that can be studied and used as a resource for future generations.

Drone mapping provides a fast, accurate, and noninvasive way to document archeological sites, creating a historical record of a country’s cultural heritage and giving archaeologists a rich set of data and models to be used for further research.

– DroneDeploy.com

In 2013 Benoit Duverneuil founded the research group Aerial Digital Archeology and Preservation, which aims to further the field of drones in archeology and train others to implement the latest techniques. Learn more about his work on the research group’s Facebook page.


5. Catching Poachers in the Act

The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society has been hard at work trying to stop poachers on the open oceans, and they’ve been using drones to help them do it.

Check out the video below, which was a finalist for the 2017 InterDrone Film Festival, to see how conservation activists are using drones to nab poachers.


6. Forestry and Conservation

By helping to create detailed maps, drones can assist in detecting illegal logging operations, as well as tracking and monitoring overall tree count and the health of a forest.

Using NDVI imagery, areas of dry vegetation can be monitored, which can assist with forest fire prevention. Maps can also help identify dead trees, revealing whether a disease might be affecting the forest.

Because drones can capture so much data all at once, and because software to analyze that data is becoming more and more robust, drones are shaping up to be the perfect tool to help conservationists and forestry officials to track the overall health of a forest. Such a project would be incredibly time consuming on foot, not to mention much more complicated—imagine manually counting the number of diseased trees in an area, instead of having software automatically analyze an image shot by a drone and informing you.


7. Law Enforcement

Police Departments around the U.S. are starting to incorporate drones into their operations.

Police officers are using drones to help assess damage following floods, fires, and other natural disasters; to create detailed orthomosaic maps of crime scenes, and even of places where a crime might be likely to happen so that they can use that knowledge to respond more quickly to potential threats; for accident reconstruction; and for fugitive apprehension, among others.

Below is a picture of Tom Agos of the Gurnee Police Department in Gurnee, IL, flying a drone to assess water damage in the town following a flood. Read our interview with Tom to learn more about his work with drones in Gurnee.


8. Finding and Safely Detonating Land Mines

A 14 year old boy in India named Harshwardhan Zala made the news recently for inventing a drone that could detect and detonate land mines.

The drone comes equipped with infrared, an RGB sensor, and a thermal meter along with a 21-megapixel camera with a mechanical shutter that can take high-resolution pictures. It works by detecting land mines from a distance, and then, once the area has been cleared, dropping a small bomb to destroy the land mine safely.

Harshwardhan says he first thought of the idea when he was watching television and learned that “a large number of soldiers succumb to injuries sustained due to land mine blasts while defusing them manually.”

His first invention to address this problem was a robot for detecting and detonating land mines, but this meant the loss of a robot for each land mine detonated. The anti-land mine drone was the next iteration in Harshwardhan’s inventive process, since it can detect land mines from a distance, without risking detonation.


9. Fighting FiresReconnaissance, Identifying Smoldering Hot Spots, and More

Drones help firefighters with their jobs in a number of ways.

Using aerial thermography, a drone can fly over the sight of a fire that is almost out to identify smoldering hot spots that might not be visible to the naked eye. Aerial thermography can also help to quickly find potential fire victims who need immediate medical attention in fires that are still smoldering.


Drones also provide key information for firefighters in big, intense forest fires and other types of blazes, where the fire is so big and stretches so far that it can be hard to know exactly what steps to take using the information available on the ground.

Knowing how a fire burns and where it might move next is the most important part of firefighting.

– David Celino,Chief Fire Warden, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.


10. Saving Lives in Search & Rescue Missions

Search & rescue scenarios are all about time. If someone is lost in the woods in harsh conditions, the chances of survival all come down to how long they’re out there before someone finds them.

Drones help search & rescue teams find people quickly using aerial thermography to identify heat signatures, and they can do this much more quickly and effectively than a team of people searching on the ground. Drones can also be helpful for getting an aerial view of an area where a search & rescue mission needs to take place, in order to help guide the work being done by people on the ground.

In one recent story from Canada, a search and rescue team found a group of five missing snowboarders and skiers that had been missing for two days using UAVs with infrared cameras.

In the future, every progressive SAR team will have a drone or access to a drone for a search.

– Kamloops Search and Rescue, of Kamloops, British Columbia


11. Teaching—and Exciting—Students about STEM and Coding

DroneBlocks and DronePan are two programs that come with apps teachers can use to help students get involved in coding and generally interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields using drones.


The DroneBlocks app makes programming drone missions accessible for middle and elementary school students through a familiar, easy-to-use “block” programming interface.

DroneBlocks provides everything teachers need, including a full curriculum and support, to launch a drone-based STEM program. They combine curricula materials with hands-on work with drones to help teachers create a project-based learning environment where kids can get excited about STEM learning.

Best of all, the DroneBlocks app is completely free.

DroneBlocks empowers STEM leaders to educate in the context of unprecedented engagement.”
DroneBlocks website

Watch this video to learn a little more about DroneBlocks.


Getting started in your classroom:

Check out the “What You’ll Need” page on the DroneBlocks website to get started (hint: the list is really short; it looks like they’ve made it as easy as possible for educators to step in and implement right out of the box).

If you’re short on funding, DroneBlocks has a funding ideas page on their website, and they also provide 8 lesson plans for free in case you just want to dip your toes in the water. All in all, this looks like an excellent way to get kids excited about STEM.


DronePan makes it easy to capture aerial panoramas with the click of a button using a variety of drones from DJI (the Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Inspire 1, Inspire 2 or Mavic Pro drone all work with DronePan).

DronePan takes 20 photos at the necessary yaw and pitch to create photos that can be easily stitched together for a 360 spherical panorama.

The process takes less than 2 minutes, and produces some really incredible aerial panoramas (scroll down to see links to examples).


Check out these examples of panoramas created by DronePan users. Seriously, do it. They are amazing.

Getting started in your classroom:

Right now DronePan runs on iOS devices and an Android version is currently in beta. You can learn more about new releases and updates by joining the DronePan Facebook group.

By the way, we’d be remiss if we didn’t give a shout out here to Marisa Vickery, Facilitator of Learning & Innovation for the Dripping Springs school district in Dripping Springs, Texas. Marisa reached out to tell us to add DroneBlocks to our list of 70 Drone Companies to Watch in 2017, and she was absolutely right. Thanks Marisa!

12. Delivering Blood and Other Crucial Medical Supplies to Remote Areas

Forget Flirtey and AmazonAir. Zipline isn’t just testing the use of drones for deliveries, it’s actually making them. And what’s more, it’s delivering crucial medical supplies (and not just pizzas or a Kindle Fire.)

More than two billion people lack adequate access to essential medical products, often due to challenging terrain and gaps in infrastructure. Because of this, over 2.9 million children under age five die every year. And up to 150,000 pregnancy-related deaths could be avoided each year if mothers had reliable access to safe blood.

Zipline made the news a few months back when it announced a partnership with the government of Rwanda to deliver blood and other crucial medical supplies to rural areas that are difficult to reach by land. Watch this video to learn more about Zipline’s partnership with Rwanda.


13. Making More Food with Fewer Resources

Drone applications in agriculture are booming, and new ag-focused drone companies and products are being announced all the time.

UAVs allow farmers to collect more actionable data about their crops than has ever before been possible. Also, new data-focused platforms like RaptorMaps are helping to analyze and use the data gathered. RaptorMaps is an MIT-founded precision agriculture company that employs crop-mapping drones to better pinpoint crop damage, offering farmers 100% data coverage of their land.

Worldwide, about a third of all crops are lost. It’s easy to blame bugs, but really, a lack of information is destroying these plants.

– Nikhil Vadhavka, CEO of RaptorMaps

And it’s that lack of information that’s vital to a farmer. Crop disease, pests, weeds, and weather damage are just a few areas where timely data can help save large swaths of crops.

As one might expect, monitoring acres and acres of land can be difficult and costly to farmers. Many types of crop inspections and maintenance are performed manually. More pesticides are being used than needed. Imagine lots of driving and walking and note-taking in the field. Hours and hours of work on a regular basis.

Large farming operations hire scouts and agrochemical companies to tend their fields, but when you have 1,000 acres—just picture 1,000 football fields—it’s impossible to keep track simply by walking through them.

By helping to analyze crop yields and providing key data on soil quality and other crucial factors, the ag sector of the drone industry holds a huge amount of promise.

If we can get more food from fewer resources, everyone on the planet will benefit.


14. Keeping Our Skies Safe

The proliferation of drones has also led to new technologies to control drones, like the anti-drone gun, which can stop a drone mid-flight and force it to land (with no damage being done to the drone).

In addition, many drone companies are working alongside NASA and the FAA to create Unmanned Traffic Management systems (UTMs) to help coordinate flights so that the skies stay safe and regulated for everyone.

New Technologies

The primary goal of these new drone-control technologies is to keep our airspaces safe. Drones near airports pose a big potential risk to airplanes, and it’s crucial to have technology that can immediately clear the skies.

If an unauthorized drone appears in the airspace at an airport, it could post a serious threat to the passengers aboard airplanes, both as a potential hazard for the planes in flight but also because it could be carrying a bomb. These new technologies allow for the immediate control of rogue UAVs, so that everyone is kept safe.

In addition, we’ve read reports of drones being used to deliver drugs and other contraband to prisoners, and this technology is also helpful in preventing this kind of illicit behavior.


Unmanned Traffic Management Systems

UTMs are the way of the future when it comes to drone flights, especially in populous places.

NASA defines a UTM as “a cloud-based system that will help manage traffic at low altitudes and avoid collisions of UASs being operated beyond visual line of sight.”

By designing systems that will allow many drones to share the same airspace, drone companies, NASA, and the FAA are working to create a safer future for our airspaces.

We need a way to organize the UAS traffic, whether that’s by crisscrossing or with a bike lane or HOV lane kind of construct. The system can make these things happen based on demand. UTM is a virtual system.

– Dr. Parimal Kopardekar, UTM Principal Investigator at the NASA Ames Research Center



The post Fighting Bad Press: 14 Inspiring Examples of Drones Doing Good around the Globe appeared first on UAV Coach.

“The World’s Most Realistic Drone Flight Simulator”—A Conversation with Ryan Gury, DRL’s Head of Product, about Their Brand New Simulator

Last week the Drone Racing League (DRL) launched a brand new simulator—the DRL Simulator—and announced the launch of tryouts for the 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship Season.

Tryouts are highly competitive this year, and hold the promise of a $75,000 professional contract from DRL for the winner. Aspiring pilots can download the DRL Simulator and enter the tryouts today.

The competition will conclude on January 15, followed by a live eSport tournament to be streamed globally.


The Drone Racing League already had a great simulator before the release of this new one, so we wanted to talk to DRL’s Head of Product Ryan Gury to learn more about what makes their brand new simulator stand out.

Read on to hear what Ryan had to say.

Begin Interview

UAV Coach: What is unique about the new DRL Simulator, and how does it mimic real flying?

Ryan Gury: The DRL Simulator is the world’s most realistic drone flight and racing simulator. The sim teaches aspiring pilots how to fly, and gives DRL fans the opportunity to race the same courses featured in the 2016 and 2017 DRL Allianz World Championship seasons, broadcast on ESPN, Sky, Prosiebien, FOX Sports Asia, OSN and Disney XD in more than 75 countries across the globe.

The sim offers an extensive tutorial with 50 different missions, such as throttle, pitch, and yaw, so rookies can learn basic flying skills online without spending hundreds of dollars on crashing real drones during practice.

Once in-game, pilots select perfect replicas of DRL drones to compete with. They can choose from the DRL Nikko Air toy drone that you can buy at Target, Amazon, Toys R Us, or Walmart, the DRL Racer3, flown by elite pilots in the 2017 Season, or the DRL RacerX, the Guinness World Record-setting fastest racing drone on the planet, or customize their own by upgrading motors and transforming the quadcopter’s skin.

Pilots can then race head-to-head on real DRL maps against anyone in the world and participate in the 2018 Swatch DRL Tryouts, aimed to find the next great drone pilot.

The top 24 pilots on the leaderboard will be invited to compete in a live eSports-style tournament, streamed globally on February 3, 2018. The winner will receive a spot in the 2018 DRL Allianz World Championship Season and a $75,000 professional contract.


UAV Coach: How does DRL distinguish its new simulator as compared with the new AR simulators from DroneBase and Epson?

Ryan Gury: DroneBase’s Aircraft and Epson are technically not flight simulators. Rather, they are light augmented reality experiences.

Unlike these AR platforms, the DRL Simulator is a true-to-life drone racing simulator. It features the exact same DRL maps and perfectly matched engineering of the DRL drones you’ve seen on TV, as well as an extensive tutorial to learn how to fly. Epson, on the other hand, does not simulate FPV flight, use realistic physics, or teach users how to fly, and Aircraft is more like Minecraft for drones in the sky.

UAV Coach: What technical challenges were overcome in building this simulator, and what makes it stand out as compared with past versions of DRL’s racing simulator?

Ryan Gury: The new DRL Simulator is a complete overhaul from our previous version.

It has incredible new features, including:

  • An in-depth tutorial to help you master any drone racing skill, and understand how well you’re flying through honest, real-time feedback
  • All new race maps that are exact replicas from our 2017 Season
  • New drones that perfectly match the engineering of our real DRL drones (from their weight to the size of their props)
  • Multiplayer capabilities so you can race against your friends around the world
  • Online replays that enable you to watch the runs and races of other players, including top DRL pilots, so you can follow their paths and maneuvers for personal inspiration 

As we completely upgraded the physics of the platform to make our users’ digital flying experience close to real-life drone racing, we had to innovate the simulator technology and overcome technical challenges along the way.

UAV Coach: It doesn’t seem like a coincidence that this new simulator is being rolled out just as tryouts for 2018 are announced. Tell us a little about DRL’s perspective on how simulators are connected to real life racing.

Ryan Gury: As we’re trying to introduce drone racing to the world and broaden the accessibility of the sport of the future, we built the DRL Simulator to serve as the ultimate starting point to drone racing.

The sim completely levels the playing field for the next wave of hopeful pilots, and can transform a 18+ year old gamer into a professional pilot overnight, regardless of their gender, nationality, physical ability or any dimension beyond age.

UAV Coach: We know it’s early, but is there anything you can tell us about what to expect in the 2018 season?

Ryan Gury: We’re incredibly excited for our 2018 Season, as it will feature even more stunning race courses around the world, an incredible new level of talent, and the continued innovation of drone racing technology.

About the DRL Simulator

Players can use the new DRL Simulator to learn how to fly a racing drone, compete against five other players at a time, and select digitized versions of zooming DRL drone models including the:

  • DRL Racer3—The official 90 MPH pro-racing drone, flown by professional pilots throughout the 2017 Season and designed and hand-built by DRL’s expert engineers
  • DRL RacerX—The fastest racing drone on the planet, which recently set the Guinness World Record™ title for the Fastest ground speed by a battery-powered remote-controlled quadcopter, achieving a top speed of 179.6 MPH
  • DRL Nikko Air—The ultimate entry racing drone for aspiring pilots who want to learn how to fly


DRL Simulator specs

  • OS: Windows 8×64 or greater
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-4460 (2.70 GHz) or better
  • Memory: 8 GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 650 (2GB) or better
  • DirectX: Version 11
  • Network: Broadband Internet connection
  • Storage: 4 GB available space
  • Controller types: For best experience a controller or radio controller are needed; a complete list can be found here.

Want to take part in the 2018 tryouts, or just try your hand at FPV racing? Download the DRL simulator and get flying now

The post “The World’s Most Realistic Drone Flight Simulator”—A Conversation with Ryan Gury, DRL’s Head of Product, about Their Brand New Simulator appeared first on UAV Coach.

Your Questions Answered—Follow Up from Our Webinar on How to Ace the FAA’s Part 107 Exam

Last week we hosted a webinar entitled How to Ace the FAA’s Part 107 Exam and Become a Certified Drone Drone Pilot, and we were so inundated with questions that we promised to write a follow up blog post to make sure they all got answered.


We’ve broken your questions down into categories to make the answers approachable and easy to find.

If you still have questions, please reach out to us at support[at]uavcoach[dot]com, and we’ll make sure to get back soon.

We also recommend that you post your questions in the UAV Coach community forum. It’s a community of thousands of drone pilots, and a great place to learn more about anything and everything related to flying drones.

Questions about FAA Certification and What It Allows You to Do

Question: In what scenarios is FAA-certification required for flying drones?

Answer: The FAA requires a pilot to be certified in order to perform any type of commercial drone operation. We had many people ask specific questions regarding when one should be certified, and what activities constitute commercial drone work.

Basically, if you’re asking the question at all, you’re probably flying in a way that the FAA would define as commercial.

To make this simple, it’s helpful to look at the FAA’s Getting Started webpage. There the FAA defines hobbyist flying as “educational or recreational flying only.” So if you’re flying in a way that is not educational (for you, not for others) or just for fun, you’re flying commercially.

Here are some examples of types of flying that may seem to fall in a grey area, but the FAA would still define as commercial:

  • Flying as a trade with someone for goods or services
  • Flying as part of your real estate operation
  • Flying as a teacher in a high school or college class
  • Flying as part of a demonstration

Question: What does the FAA require for certification?

Answer: Here is what the FAA requires (taken from the FAA’s Fly for Work/Business webpage):

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Must pass an initial aeronautical knowledge test at an FAA-approved knowledge testing center+
  • Must be vetted by the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA)

Many people asked about additional requirements, such as whether a medical exam, driver’s license, flight proficiency, or college degree were required. There are no additional requirements beyond the ones listed above, although you will need some form of valid identification in order to take the Part 107 test.

There is, however, an exception to the above for pilots with current certificates:

A person who already holds a pilot certificate issued under 14 CFR part 61 and has successfully completed a flight review within the previous 24 months can complete a part 107 online training course at www.faasafety.gov to satisfy [the testing] requirement.


Question: Where and how can I fly if I am FAA-certified?

Answer: Once certified, the FAA allows you to fly a drone weighing less than 55 pounds with these restrictions (taken from the FAA’s Fly for Work/Business webpage):

  • Must fly in class G airspace* (i.e., completely uncontrolled airspace)
  • Must keep the aircraft in sight (visual line-of-sight)*
  • Must fly under 400 feet*
  • Must fly during the day*
  • Must fly at or below 100 mph*
  • Must yield right of way to manned aircraft*
  • Must NOT fly over people*
  • Must NOT fly from a moving vehicle*

Question: Are there any exceptions to these restrictions?

Answer: Yes. The FAA does issue airspace authorizations, which allow drone pilots to fly in controlled airspace (addressing the first bullet in the list above), as well as Part 107 waivers, which allow drone pilots to fly in one or more of the ways listed in the other bullets above (Beyond Visual Line of Sight; above 400 feet; at night, etc.).

Here are some additional resources:

*Note: Night waivers are the most common types of Part 107 waivers issued by the FAA. Waivers for other Part 107 restrictions can be obtained, but they are less common. The FAA keeps a public record of all Part 107 waivers issued, which can be found here.

Question: Will my FAA certification expire, and what is the process to renew it?

Answer: The FAA has stated that recertification will be required every 24 months, but has not yet issued the specific process that will be required for recertification.

Question: What is the process around getting clearance from heliports? On some DNF maps they show up while they do not on others.

Answer: Many DNF maps don’t take into account the Part 107 regulations.

If you’re flying as a certified drone pilot under Part 107, it doesn’t matter how close or far you are to an airport. What matters is if you’re in controlled vs. uncontrolled airspace. Even if you’re right next to a heliport, for example, if you’re in Class G uncontrolled airspace and there are no other special airspace considerations to factor in, the only thing you have to worry about is conducting a safe and responsible flight mission.

You can’t impede (and should absolutely yield to) any existing manned aircraft operations, particularly low-flying helicopters. While it’s not required to get clearance / permission, it my be helpful to establish communication for stronger situational awareness.

Question: I work for a fire department. Are permanent nighttime flight waivers available for public safety agencies to perform search and rescue operations?

Answer: Yes, this is know as a Public COA. More information can be found on the process for obtaining a COA here.

Question: Who has jurisdiction over airspace right now, the federal government or local governments?

Answer: Officially, the federal government has jurisdiction. However, many states and local governments are passing laws related to flying drones.

A recent court case in Newton, MA recognized the FAA’s authority, and struck down parts of the town’s law that encroached on the FAA’s jurisdiction. That being said, you could still potentially be jailed or fined for breaking local laws related to flying drones (even if you’re operating in compliance with FAA regulations), so it’s important to be aware of them.

Work Related Questions

Question: What kinds of jobs are available as a commercial drone pilot, and how can you find work doing them?

Answer: There are dozens of ways drones are being used in work settings, from aerial cinematography to surveying to fire fighting. Here is an overview of where people are finding work:


For more on jobs for commercial drone pilots, check out this article on where people are making money in the drone industry and this master list of U.S. certified drone pilot directories.

To actually find work, you often have to create the opportunity for yourself.

Many successful commercial drone pilots we’ve encountered who are working for themselves have seen their role as educators when it comes to finding new clients. They’ll offer a shoot for free to a realtor in order to demonstrate the value aerial services can provide, and then work from there to establish a client base.

Read about how Derrick Ward built his business, Hot Shots Aerial Photography, from free flights to a point where he can charge up to $250 an hour here.

Question: How should I price my drone services?

Answer: This question is hard to answer, because pricing is generally tied to the specific location you’re in, type of work you’re doing, competition (or lack of competition), and level of skill you’ve developed.

For some good advice on pricing for real estate marketing, check out this article.

Derrick Ward of Hot Shots Aerial Photography has this advice:

People should evaluate their own work and the amount they charge for it by how busy they are.

If you’re really busy, and you have people knocking down your door to hire you, then you don’t need to offer free services to find clients since they already understand the value of your work. And if you’re incredibly busy then you should probably consider raising your prices.

On the other hand, if you’re not very busy, then it’s worth considering tactics like offering lower prices or free shoots to bring in new clients, until things start to pick up.

Question: Do you need drone insurance to start your own drone services business?

Answer: It’s probably a good idea, but it’s really up to you. For an in-depth take on drone insurance, check out this free guide on the subject.

Hardware Questions

We had dozens of questions about which drone to buy. The truth is that different drones are good for different jobs, so it will often depend on what you plan to do.

That being said, we’ve got some guides to different types of drones that can help you get started when it comes to finding the right drone for the job.

Here they are:

Software Questions

We also had a lot of questions about software and photo/video editing in general.

Here are the guides we’ve created to help you when it comes to finding the right software for your drone operations:

Still have questions?

Email us at support[at]uavcoach[dot]com, or post them in the UAV Coach community forum.

The post Your Questions Answered—Follow Up from Our Webinar on How to Ace the FAA’s Part 107 Exam appeared first on UAV Coach.

FAA Approves AT&T Drones to Restore Cell Services in Puerto Rico

The FAA has officially approved the use of drones to restore cellular service in Puerto Rico, following the extreme damage brought about by Hurricane Maria.

The drones that will be used for these operations are called Flying COWs (Cell on Wings), and were created by AT&T to act like a flying cell tower. These drones will quickly restore voice, data, and internet service to those who have been without these services since Hurricane Maria hit.


Two months after Hurricane Maria, 37% of Puerto Rico’s cellular sites remained un-operational, making communication incredibly difficult for many of the island’s residents. As of last Thursday, the same day the news was announced, AT&T reported that 80% of Puerto Rico’s cell customers were connected.

Looks like we have yet another application to add to the list of drones being used for good around the world.

Special FAA Authorization

The FAA’s Small UAS Rule only allows for operations of drones that weigh under 55 pounds.

The drone AT&T plans to use for operations in Puerto Rico is the Pulse Vapor 55, which is huge, and exceeds the FAA’s maximum weight allowance (and that’s without a payload attached).

Due to the weight of the Pulse Vapor 55, AT&T’s proposed operations in Puerto Rico required special authorization from the FAA. The FAA issued this authorization on a temporary basis last Thursday, stating that the drone could be used to restore cell service on the island as a stop gap measure while permanent infrastructure is being rebuilt.

About AT&T’s Flying COW Drone

The Pulse Vapor 55 is big, and looks like a mini helicopter.

It spans 7.5 feet in diameter, can fly up to 200 feet in the air, and cover an area of 40 square miles. When in use, it can provide cell coverage for up to 8,000 people simultaneously.


Previously, AT&T had floated the idea of using drones like these as a way to provide regular cell coverage in high saturation scenarios, such as during concerts.

Earlier this year, AT&T shared news of a test flight of the COW in which it was used to transmit and receive high speed data above a field outside Atlanta. At the time, they believed it was the first flight of its kind ever performed.


The video above shows a test flight in rural Georgia, in which the drone is tethered to a base of solar panels and connected to fiber that allows the drone to broadcast data.

These COW drones are incredibly useful for disaster recovery, since they can support areas where connectivity is down after a hurricane, tornado, or other natural disaster. But they can also be helpful for wildfire scenarios, since they can track a fire fighting team’s efforts as a fire moves, providing connectivity at different locations based on the needs of the operation.

We’re taking LTE technology to the sky. We’re able to reach areas that we weren’t able to easily reach in the past.

– Art Pregler, Director of AT&T’s Drone Program

AT&T currently only has one of these drones, but is testing additional models for deployment.

In the next few years, we hope to see more and more of these drones keeping us connected right after disasters, at times when we previously would have expected to lose coverage for weeks or even months.

The post FAA Approves AT&T Drones to Restore Cell Services in Puerto Rico appeared first on UAV Coach.

Both Sides of the Coin: How Videoblocks by Storyblocks Helps Drone Pilots Create High Quality Videos and Sell Them for Passive Income

We’re pleased to introduce Videoblocks by Storyblocks, a returning community sponsor for UAV Coach.

Since last year, Videoblocks has been combined with Audioblocks and Graphicstock under the name Storyblocks. Put simply, Storyblocks is a one-stop-shop for inexpensive, high quality stock media.

Videoblocks by Storyblocks provides stock videos; Audioblocks by Storyblocks provides stock audio; and Storyblocks itself provides stock photos, illustrations, and vector images.

In case you haven’t heard of them, Storyblocks has a huge footprint in the stock media world. They recently passed a milestone of 100 million downloads worldwide, and they work with big companies like National Geographic, NBC, and ABC.


As a community sponsor, Storyblocks is offering a free, seven day trial exclusively to UAV Coach community members, as well as $50 off for those who choose to purchase a subscription.

If you’d like to try Videoblocks by Storyblocks or buy a subscription at a reduced rate, please use this link for the free trial, as well as the $50 discount (offer ends on 11/30).


Sell Your Drone Footage through Storyblocks

Drone pilots can buy stock video from Videoblocks by Storyblocks or stock audio from AudioBlocks by Storyblocks (not to mention stock images from Storyblocks), but they can also use the Storyblocks Marketplace to sell their footage. You can even find out if Storyblocks customers are looking for specific clips—say, a shot of a certain city or skyline—and create footage just for them.

When you sell your drone footage—or stills, or other media—through the Storyblocks Marketplace you get 100% of the sale price. Storyblocks doesn’t take a cut.

This practice is a testament to Storyblocks’ founding vision to be a creative community, not just a marketplace where creative media can be bought and sold.

To date, Storyblocks has paid out over $6 million to the artists selling content through their Marketplace, and their top contributors make over $100,000 a year in passive income.

With a few hundred thousand customers and 3 million monthly visitors to their site, Storyblocks has a huge reach when it comes to selling stock footage. Every month they email contributors to their Marketplace with insights about what customers are looking for in stock footage, and drone footage is in increasingly high demand.

By using Storyblocks’ services I can generate extra revenue by indirectly licensing my aerial (and other) footage. The uploading process is straightforward and the crew is very helpful in their assistance.

– Stef Hoffer

So how can you sell your footage through Storyblocks and get 100% of the sale?

  • Upload your drone footage. Since Storyblocks supports 4K (and customers pay a premium for 4K footage), it’s recommended that you upload your drone footage in 4K. But you can also upload in 1080p HD. 15-30 second clips are preferred.
  • Categorize your video. Make sure to add relevant keywords and a description to make it easier for people to find your videos.
  • Publish and wait for buyers. If someone downloads your footage in HD, you’ll make $49, and if they download in 4K, you’ll make $199. For each download! Contributors automatically get paid out each month.

Here’s what it looks like:


Cheap Stock Audio for Your Drone Videos

If you’re looking for a song to liven up your drone video, Audioblocks by Storyblocks has a huge audio collection to pick through. We have a subscription ourselves, and we’ve used it to spice up our own drone videos.

One of the nice things about the way Storyblocks sells stock media is that it’s simple. Anything you download as a member is yours to keep forever, royalty-free, and members can use all of the content they find on Storyblocks for commercial and personal projects.

When Alan Perlman, our CEO and Founder, took a trip to Namibia earlier this year, he used his Audioblocks by Storyblocks subscription to find music for the video he made from the footage he shot on the trip.

Check it out:


Special Offer for the UAV Coach Community

Storyblocks is offering our community the chance to try before you buy.

Sign up for a free seven day trial of Videoblocks by Storyblocks, Audioblocks by Storyblocks, or Storyblocks and get access to unlimited downloads of video clips, as well as backgrounds and Adobe After Effects templates you can use in your own aerial post production efforts. If you like it, use the same link to buy an annual subscription for $50 off.

Sign up now for a free seven day trial of Videoblocks by Storyblocks.
Also, remember to sign up for the Storyblocks Marketplace if you’d like to make passive income with your drone footage.


The post Both Sides of the Coin: How Videoblocks by Storyblocks Helps Drone Pilots Create High Quality Videos and Sell Them for Passive Income appeared first on UAV Coach.

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