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Home Inspector Using Drone to Include Roof Conditions In Reports

Source: Cedar Valley BUSINESS (monthly online)
By: Jim Offner


Jonathan Zeissler, owner of Illuminate Home Inspections, uses a drone in his business.

Jonathan Zeissler thought it odd that a house could pass an inspection, even if it had a bad roof.

“I know first-hand, I’ve had the paid inspector come out and didn’t inspect my roof because it was too tall. I thought that was kind of a flaw in the system.”

– he said

It also occurred to him that it was a business opportunity.

So, over the summer, he launched Illuminate Inspections LLC, which would include roof evaluations. Zeissler operates the business out of his home.

He purchased a Phantom 3 drone from China-based manufacturer DJI and worked it into his inspection regimen.

Zeissler doesn’t worry about negotiating tricky angles, climbing long ladders or balancing himself on quirky roofs.

He just sends the drone up top to have a look.

“It’s fully functioning, I can up, down, spin and side-to-side. The remote control gives me total access to its movement.”

– Zeissler said

For any inspection, Zeissler sends the four-prop drone whirring up to the roof, take photos and “do a proper inspection,” he said. “And, of course, we offer some nice pictures for the buyer and homeowners. A lot of people like to get an aerial photograph of their house. It’s not really needed, but it’s nice to have.

Zeissler said it wasn’t tough to learn how to control Quadcoptor drone, which carries a high-definition camera under its belly.

“For me it wasn’t too bad; in the past, I’ve been a gamer, so I’m familiar with remote controls,” he said, laughing. “The experience paid off, I guess you could say.”

The timing for taking off on his own business venture certainly was right: Zeissler had been laid off from his position at John Deere’s Tractor Cab Assembly operation in April after having been on the job for two years.

And, Zeissler had been a business owner before – he owned Hearth Pro, a Waterloo-based fireplace and biomass stove and furnace retailer before selling the company six years ago.

“It’s fully functioning, I can up, down, spin and side-to-side. The remote control gives me total access to its movement.”

– Zeissler said

“It was kind of a blessing,” he said, referring to his layoff at Deere. “I decided home inspection was a good fit for my background.”

The drone system cost about $1,500, Zeissler said, noting the investment wasn’t just worth it for his business; it justifies it.

“The personal experience of having a home inspector of inspecting a home I was buying, not being able to get a report on the roof was the no. 1 driver, once I decided to go into business for myself as a home inspector,”
“How can I not do that for my clients? That’s when I investigated the costs and how user-friendly it would be. This would work perfectly and take care of that problem.”
– he said.

Drone usage is not exactly revolutionary in home inspections, but it’s probably a rarity in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls area, Zeissler said.

And, it likely will be standard operating procedure in the future, he said.

“As far as I know we’re the only ones in this area (with a drone), We’re certainly not the first, but I think it’s something that does catch on, as the service is more fulfilled in doing the inspections. Customers are going to want that roof inspections — even (from) the ones that can’t get up there. As they become more aware that this technology is being used, we’ll see it more.”

– he said.

The post Home Inspector Using Drone to Include Roof Conditions In Reports appeared first on UAV Coach.

Five Skills You Need to Succeed in the Commercial Drone Market

Source: sUAS News
By: Colin Snow


These days it seems just about anyone can get an FAA Section 333 Exemption that allows them to legally use small unmanned aircraft systems (sUAS) for commercial purposes in the U.S. As of October 20, 2015, almost 71% of all Section 333 grants have gone to firms claiming that their primary operation/mission is Film/Photo/Video (and most claim multiple uses). This includes companies that are using drones for movies, as well as for art and real estate, among other things. Inspection and Monitoring has seen the second highest issuance rate, at 31%, while Mapping and Surveying for land and commercial construction, rounds out the top three at 20%.

Looking further into the data, AUVSI reports that at least 84% — and perhaps as many as 94.5%– of all approved companies are small businesses. While we don’t agree with their astronomical forecast (see our write-up here), we concur with this analysis.

But here’s the catch. With the bar so low for starting a commercial drone service, what’s the guarantee these businesses will succeed? According to Bloomberg, eight out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn. So given the risk, it makes sense to assess which markets and use cases provide the best chance of success, the skills you’ll need, and the value-add services you should be offering those markets.

Here are five services we think you should consider offering as part of your commercial drone business:

$ – Video
$$ – Mapping
$$$ – Photogrammetry
$$$$ – LiDAR
??? – Spectral imaging

I’ve put dollar signs next to each service and listed them in progression to represent both the skill and value each has for potential customers. Notice I’ve got question marks there by spectral imaging. That’s because the jury is still out on whether there is a solid ROI on this service vs. that provided by manned aircraft for precision agriculture. Precision agriculture often gets touted as the #1 place where “drones will transform the world” but the hard reality is this is a specialized application and a very complex market. (I have written about this extensively and you can find some very important details in a post I wrote more than a year ago called Film or Farm: Which is Largest Drone Market – Part 2?)

Skill 1 – Video

Now some of you may be wondering why I included video on my list. We often see drone video footage on YouTube and think it’s cool. But the hard fact is commercial buyers of drone video services have a much higher standard. So you will, too, if you want to make money in the Film/Photo/Video market.

By now you know shooting good drone video starts with selecting the right drone, the right camera, with the right lens, mounted on the right gimbal. It’s not a secret any drone enthusiast can go out and buy a DJI Phantom Vision 3 for about $1,200 and shoot 4K video. But just because you can fly it and press the ‘record’ button does not make you a professional aerial videographer. There is much more to it than that. For one, shooting good video requires you to be skilled in the basics of:

  • Shots (FOV, framing, perspective)
  • Moves (pan, tilt, truck, dolly, etc.)
  • Technique (zoom, action, follow, etc.)

For another, there is timeline editing. What are you going to do with all that footage? Hand it to the customer raw? You could, but it’s better to have it edited or least know how it’s done so you can offer assistance or more services. For that, you will need to be skilled at:

  • Cuts
  • Transitions
  • Graphics
  • Lighting
  • Color grading

These aren’t all the things you need to know but if you don’t know these I suggest you get some basic film-school training and offer a better service than the kid next door with a quadcopter and a GoPro.

Skill 2 – Mapping

In researching drones and aerial photography and mapping, you might find yourself coming across new terms. One of the basic ones you should know is “orthomosaic photo” or “orthophotos.” Orthophotos (aka ‘orthos’) are basically photos that have been stitched together to make a larger one and then corrected. The technique is not unique to drones. Orthomosaics have been created by aerial photographers in manned aircraft for years and used by lots of industries.

The point here is if you are not familiar with the techniques and software to create orthos, then I recommend you acquaint yourself with it because it is a valuable service for which customers in the Mapping / Surveying market will pay handsomely. There are even drone apps that automate the whole process like DroneDeploy and Pix4D.

Skill 3 – Photogrammetry

Photogrammetry is a technique which uses photography to measure the environment. This is achieved through overlapping imagery; where the same site can be seen from two perspectives, it is possible to calculate measurements. Again, this technique is not unique to drone imagery, but there is some good news here. Off-the-shelf software, like Agisoft PhotoScan and SimActive, is plentiful and fairly easy to learn.

The hard part is providing your customer with valuable measurement information. And the harder part is competing with firms that have been offering this service for years now using ground-based systems combined with aircraft. For this, you will need some specialized skills and will need to be certified so that you are recognized. One way to get certification is through the American Society for Photogrammetry and

  • Remote Sensing (ASPRS).

An ASPRS Certified Photogrammetrist is a professional who uses photogrammetric technology to extract measurements and make maps and interpret data from images. The Photogrammetrist is responsible for all phases of mapping and other mensuration requirements, which include planning and supervising survey activities for control, specifying photography or other imagery requirements, managing projects for mapping or other mensuration requirements and interpretation. You can find more information on their programs here.

Skill 4 – LiDAR

LiDAR drones are fairly new as the units have become smaller and lightweight. But LiDAR is not new to surveyors and engineers. They’ve been using ground-based and airborne LiDAR scanning units for years.
The good news is LiDAR drones are great for scanning small areas like building sites and getting in hard-to-reach areas like under bridges. In this way they provide a significant cost advantage over aircraft or helicopters with LiDAR units and have the greatest margin potential as a service for the Inspection / Monitoring market.

You can get trained and become a Certified LiDAR Technologist (CLT) through ASPRS. A CLT is technician who performs routine LiDAR collection support and first-level data processing integrating established plans and procedures. Find information on that here.

Skill 5 – Spectral Imaging

I put this here last because, as I mention earlier, it’s not clear whether drones provide a significant cost savings to the buyer vs. the same service provided by manned aircraft for the Precision Agriculture market.

There are ROI studies being done now, but most people who provide this service will tell you that farmers aren’t willing to pay much for this service. Why spend $4 to $5 per acre for you to fly a drone overhead and deliver a normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) map unless there is a clear return on that investment? Some will – like growers of high-margin crops like fruits and nuts – but most won’t. Again, this is a competitive market that demands a lot of knowledge about precision agriculture and remote sensing techniques.

The post Five Skills You Need to Succeed in the Commercial Drone Market appeared first on UAV Coach.

Halloween Drone Sale at GearBest


Still waiting to buy your first quadcopter?

Now might be a good time, as GearBest is running a Halloween sale.

While I’ve recommended other online retailers in the past, GearBest is severely discounting select RC models, up to 59% off!

Here are some of the quadcopter drones listed on their website, many of these great introductory / training unmanned aerial systems for new drone pilots. Note that this list is not exhaustive. GearBest is offering 24 different RC products for sale (and many other products too).

  • UDI 818a
  • Cheerson CX
  • SYMA X11C
  • Hubsan X4 107D FPV
  • Yizhan Tarantula X6

Get ’em while they’re hot, folks!

Click here to access the GearBest Halloween sale.

The post Halloween Drone Sale at GearBest appeared first on UAV Coach.

[Free Whitepaper] Contracting With and Between UAS Operators

White Paper Published by Global Aerospace, Inc. and Dentons

A guide for companies seeking professional drone services and drone companies looking to safely and legally transact business


Parsippany, New Jersey – Numerous businesses today are choosing to outsource their drone operations to professional operators. This is one of the significant observations in a new white paper, “Contracting With and Between UAS Operators” published this week by Global Aerospace, a leading international aviation and aerospace insurance provider, and Dentons, an international law firm expert in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS). Increasingly, insurance providers and law firms are being asked the same questions, such as, how do I go about acquiring UAS services?

The white paper offers a comprehensive review of significant questions companies should consider when contracting drone services and summarizes some of the legal issues that should be resolved by those interacting with and within the drone community. Chris Proudlove, senior vice president and manager of the Northeast Regional Office and UAS risks for Global Aerospace stated, “We receive inquiries every day from our clients and others around drone use. This paper tackles the key issues companies have raised around the safe, legal use of drones.” Mark Dombroff, partner at Dentons commented, “The explosive growth of the UAS industry makes it critical that providers and users of drone services focus on risk allocation and management. This white paper shines a spotlight on those areas.”

Subjects covered in this paper include:

  • How do you navigate the existing challenges of the regulatory environment?
  • What are the top 10 things you should be asking a prospective drone service company?
  • How can legally enforceable contracts help protect drone manufacturers, operators and users?

The white paper is being made available free of charge, includes a sample Agreement for Drone Services contract, and can be downloaded at: http://www.global-aero.com/contracting-with-and-between-uas-operators/.

This paper is the second in a series published by Global Aerospace, following the overwhelming response to the first paper, titled “Unmanned Aviation Risk Management, Accident Prevention and Insurance” which can be downloaded at: http://www.global-aero.com/unmanned-aviation-risk-management-accident-prevention-and-insurance.

For several years, Global Aerospace has provided insurance and expert guidance to UAS operators, from small independent operators to large, military-grade UAS. As aviation regulators around the world actively work to establish guidelines for the safe integration of UAS, Global Aerospace is at the forefront of insuring this new industry, helping manufacturers and operators understand how to improve safety, minimize risk and insure against loss and liability.

Individuals interested in learning more about UAS risk and insurance issues, or wishing to speak to an unmanned aviation insurance expert can contact Chris Proudlove at (973) 490-8525 or cproudlove@global-aero.com for more information. To obtain an insurance quotation from Global Aerospace, please contact your broker.

About Global Aerospace

Global Aerospace is a leading provider of aerospace insurance with a worldwide portfolio of clients who are engaged in every aspect of the aviation and space industries. Headquartered in London, we have offices in Canada, Cologne, Paris, Zurich and throughout the United States. Across the world we employ over 350 people. With experience dating back to the 1920s, the company’s underwriting is backed by a pool of high quality insurance companies representing some of the most respected names in the business.

For additional information about Global Aerospace, please visit www.global-aero.com. To learn more about the company’s SM4 safety program, please visit sm4.global-aero.com.

About Dentons

Dentons is a global law firm driven to provide a competitive edge in an increasingly complex and interconnected world. A top 20 firm on the Acritas 2015 Global Elite Brand Index, Dentons is committed to challenging the status quo in delivering consistent and uncompromising quality in new and inventive ways. Dentons’ clients now benefit from 3,000 lawyers and professionals in more than 80 locations spanning 50-plus countries. With a legacy of legal experience that dates back to 1742 and builds on the strengths of our foundational firms – Salans, Fraser Milner Casgrain (FMC), SNR Denton and McKenna Long & Aldridge – the Firm serves the local, regional and global needs of private and public clients. www.dentons.com.

In 2015, the Firm announced its intention to combine with Chinese firm 大成. Upon launch later this year, the new firm will offer clients experience from more than 6,600 lawyers and professionals in more than 125 locations and 50-plus countries.

The post [Free Whitepaper] Contracting With and Between UAS Operators appeared first on UAV Coach.

AIG Now Offers Drone Insurance

aig drone insuranceProfessional drone pilot or company looking to build a UAV program internally?

It’s probably a good idea to get drone insurance.

You know, since you’re effectively bringing a flying lawnmower into the sky each time you take-off with a multirotor system.

Thing is, for the longest time none of the larger insurance companies wanted to touch an unmanned aerial system liability or hull coverage policy. It was mostly smaller, aviation-specific companies like Aerial Pak and Global Aerospace that commercial drone pilots and companies turned to.

Recently, insurance juggernaut AIG started offering drone insurance.

From their website:

Unmanned aircraft, whether referred to as UAS, UAV, or RPAS, are positively impacting business and industry around the world.  To assist in the development and risk management of this new category of aircraft AIG Aerospace has developed industry specific coverages that can be tailored to the unique needs of individual operators of unmanned aircraft.  Developed from decades of aviation underwriting experience, and established coverage forms, we have developed a comprehensive unmanned aircraft policy form, with UAS industry specific language and a comprehensive suite of applicable endorsements to customize coverage for those who operate, or utilize the services of unmanned aircraft for their business and professional service needs.  Key features of our dedicated unmanned aircraft coverage include the following:

  • Policy language drafted specifically to respond to the exposure of unmanned aircraft.
  • Coverage for aircraft operators, including other non-pilot, on-ground crew
  • There is NO exclusion for loss arising from electronic malfunctions and failure of electronic components, accessories and power equipment (Such and exclusion is standard on manned aircraft policies)
  • Coverage is flexible, with terms and conditions customizable to individual needs.
  • Physical damage to the aircraft itself, along with installed, or carried equipment, and ground control units can be provided.
  • Third party liability
  • War, Hi-Jacking and Terrorism

So that we can better address your individual needs for unmanned aircraft insurance, please select the applicable link below to learn how to access our coverages:

For non-quote, general inquiries related to the development of AIG’s unmanned aircraft products as well as insurance and risk management practices applicable to this product line please contact Carson Lyons at 404-249-1886 or via email at carson.lyons@aig.com


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