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DroneDeploy Snags $9M and Launches Drone Control Platform

Source: TechCrunch
By: Natasha Lomas

DroneDeployDroneDeploy is on a mission to make drones accessible to industrial users who have a business need for conducting outdoor landscape mapping and monitoring. So, in other words, it wants drones to be put to work by people other than enthusiastic dorks with a gadget habit — doing tasks like helping farmers spot crop damage and disease.

It’s doing this by making a software as a service platform that makes controlling and managing UAVs much easier than it otherwise is — via a simplified web app interface or iOS and Android mobile apps. The DroneDeploy platform autonomously pilots the drone for the user so they don’t have to learn how to do it themselves.

As well as doing the mapping, DroneDeploy’s cloud platform also takes care of the data processing to speed up the entire operation — delivering processed data back to the user in real-time and in an easily shareable format so they can act on the drone-delivered intel, rather than having to wrangle with the tech itself.

“That’s kind of the dirty secret of drones,” says co-founder and CEO Mike Winn. “People say I’ve got this amazing flying machine, it’s got four rotors, and it flies, and it’s cool and look it can product a 3D model, or it can produce a growth map of your fields — but no one talks about that space in between. How do you get that drone to actually make that growth map of your fields? It takes 50 to 70 clicks. Most of the time you must have a Windows laptop. You need to buy $8,000 pieces of software. It’s going to take 24 hours of processing time to actually make those images into the map that you’re looking for.

“We hide all that complexity. You just take out your mobile phone, you turn on your drone, you press two buttons on your phone, the drone will launch it’ll capture the imagery, it’ll process that imagery and it’ll deliver you back that imagery, that map or that 3D model in a matter of minutes.”

The core feature offered by DroneDeploy at this point is tailored to its current customer focus of farmers, construction companies and mining companies: namely aerial imagery used for photogrammetry. So it can offer mapping and 3D modeling of large areas (of hundreds of acres) and provide volumetric estimates.

More features will come down the line. “We’re just at the beginning,” says Winn. “Now we can get a drone to go and fly and create data autonomously. And we can do it in the way that anyone can do it. The next step is to start processing that data and going one level deeper where we can automatically detect change.

“We can start to do things like automatically tell rail companies there’s an obstruction in the path of the railway line”

“[In future] we can tell construction sites what’s happened in a day. We can start to do things like automatically tell rail companies there’s an obstruction in the path of the railway line. So right now we’ve started on the first thing, which is giving the data, but there’s so much more that we can do. And because all of the software that we’ve created is in the cloud it gives us infinite resources to be able to process that and do some really exciting computer science to figure out what’s happening, what’s changing in the world and how do we help businesses with this data.”

Drone for Construction

DroneDeploy’s SaaS product starts at $99 per month, and is just exiting beta now (initially focused on the U.S. market) — as the startup announces a $9 million Series A round, led by Emergence Capital. It had previously raised a $2 million seed back in 2013, including from SoftTech, Data Collective and AngelPad. Those prior investors are participating in its Series A. While Emergence Capital general partner Kevin Spain is also joining DroneDeploy’s board.

Also today, it’s announcing a partnership with drone maker DJI, which Winn says “opens up the market in a huge way” for its SaaS platform. He estimates DJI has between 60% and 70% drone marketshare. Other drones are supported, including 3DR drones — “up to 10%” marketshare in his estimate. “So we have by far the majority of the market being able to use our products,” he adds.

The majority of DroneDeploy’s beta customers thus far have been farmers. “They can get value out of this immediately,” says Winn, noting that thousands of aces of corn does not make for the easiest terrain to monitor on foot.

“How do they know what’s going on? Now they can just fly a drone over and they’ve very quickly able to establish what’s going on. They might have had hail damage from rain, or some disease or infestation cropping up. For the first time they can actually run these flights daily if they want to. Get this data immediately and start taking action.”

Drones can even be used to judge crop health by monitoring how fast plants are growing — using infrared cameras.

What will the startup be using the new funding for? Scaling up to meet what it hopes will be strong demand from a range of industries, says Winn, and also starting to build out those additional “powerful features” atop the data it’s collecting to take the SaaS platform to the next level (as it were).

As DroneDeploy launches out of beta, drone and satellite related investments are generally on an uptick — as you’d expect for what remains a relatively nascent space, outside military use-cases — running at $188 million across 22 venture rounds for this year so far, according to CrunchBase data. Last year the category pulled in $153 million in total in 63 venture rounds.

The post DroneDeploy Snags $9M and Launches Drone Control Platform appeared first on UAV Coach.

FAA Doles Out Dozens More Section 333 Exemptions

By: Jason Reagan


After corporate giants State Farm and Amazon made headlines last week by acquiring commercial drone use exemption from the FAA, a bumper crop of waivers have blossomed in the agency’s bureaucratic garden over the past week. Over the past week, the FAA granted more than a dozen Section 333 exemptions across a wide swathe of specific industries.

Section 333 “provides operators who wish to pursue safe and legal entry into the [National Air Space] a competitive advantage in the UAS marketplace, thus discouraging illegal operations and improving safety,” according to the FAA. The exemption is so far only available to industries covering precision agriculture, film making, power line and pipeline inspections and oil and gas flare stack inspections.

Exemptions issued this past week include:

San Diego Gas and Electric Company received permission to inspect power grids via UAV and is limited to the InstantEye Mk-2 Gen2 weighing less than 55 pounds including payload. Southern Electric Company and Utility Aerial Services both garnered an exemption for utility inspection as well.

Phoenix Air UNMANNED may well have been granted the broadest authority in the number of exemption uses. The FAA granted the UAV firm permission to conduct: “flare stack inspection; utility-power generation system inspections and patrolling; pipeline inspection and patrolling; filmmaking, cinematography, and videography; precision agriculture; wildlife and forestry monitoring; aerial surveying; construction site inspection and monitoring, and public entity support operations.”

Aerial filming and surveying companies made out well in the latest round of exemptions. Aerius Flight, LLC and MicroCopter Professional Services, Inc. were granted filming privileges while Aeryon Labs, Inc. received an exemption for both filming, mapping and market research.

Montico may have won the most intriguing exemption: “Tower inspections and mapping operations to an existing tower structure.” Even more intriguing, the petition does not make it clear what kind of towers are involved.

Farmers and foresters will rejoice after two firms — Vision Services Group and Wilbur-Ellis Company — won exemptions to collect data and inspect operations for agriculture and forestry professionals.

Since September, the FAA has granted 62 Section 333 exemptions and closed 21 requests. Applicants must obtain a Certificate of Waiver or Authorization (COA) that ensures the airspace for their proposed operations is safe, and that they have taken proper steps to see and avoid other aircraft.

The post FAA Doles Out Dozens More Section 333 Exemptions appeared first on UAV Coach.

DJI Phantom 3 Released!


I am surprised no-one else has beat me to this,but the DJI phantom 3 has been released and is not as expensive as you might think when considering that is packs the same tech as the DJI inspire 1 (such as lightbridge and the indoor vision sensors)

Today DJI has announced the new Phantom 3 quadcopter which is released in two flavors, the Phantom 3 Advanced, and the Phantom 3 Professional

With the previous DJI Phantom releases, DJI have usualy have one version in each phantom series as the budget option with no integrated camera, but today there was no mention of this as the naming of the phantom 3 Pro and Advanced leaves some scope for a camera-less version so you can use other third party gimbals or cameras such as a gopro.

DJI-Phantom-3-camera.jpg700x386 422 KB

Apart from the new fancy 4K camera the other neat features (inherited from the DJI Inspire) include a indoor optic flow sensor for indoor flight, and a ne GPS receiver that supports GLONASS like the new walkera drones. But my favourite feature is the integrated of the DJI lightbridge system built into the DJI phantom 3 allowing you to stream 720p video back home to your android or IOS device.

In terms of the 4K camera, some thought has gone into this, with a f/2.8 shooter now has a 94-degree fixed field of view which is narrower than the DJI Phantom 2 Vision + which means your videos and pictures will not be distorted with the fish eye effect. Furthermore the narrow field of view means that you are less likely to get any props or legs in the video when banking at extreme angles. Also you have more control over the camera allowing you to adjust things like ISO, Exposure, shutter speed and color filters etc..






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6 flight modes on MZ24

Here is my solution to access 6 flight modes on Graupner MZ24 transmitter.

As described in ColinBouriquet's blog, also two swithes has to be activated on MZ24 to manage 6 modes.

The idea is to make the tx send the following to the receiver to activate the 6 modes:

Mode 1:  PWM: 0-1230

Mode 2:  PWM: 1231 - 1360

Mode 3:  PWM: 1361 - 1490

Mode 4:  PWM: 1491 - 1620

Mode 5:  PWM: 1621 - 1749

Mode 6:  PWM: 1750 -

Activare Base Activate Channel set
Push # 5. Aux 1 (the channel which controls the modes) 
You will then see the Select - No - Clr picture Activate the chose switch. I have used  Sw 5
On the left top of the tx.
Initially, the tx will send these PWMs to the receiver:
Switch far back: 1165

Switch miiddle: 1504
Switch forward: 1817
Activate Base again Activate Channel set Activate SW7 to channel 9 Activate Function Activate Prog mix Mix Channel 9 to Channel 5
Hit the >> button. Adjust the mixing image like this
The movement of the switches will then give this result

You the can access all 6 modes.. Now go to Mission planner an allocate the your chosen modes to the 6 modes you created.

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Video of the Day 4/8/15: WIPEOUT! Drone Edition

Drones have brought an entirely new angle to action sports. A flying camera allows enthusiasts to capture themselves flying through the air on their BMX...

The post Video of the Day 4/8/15: WIPEOUT! Drone Edition appeared first on DRONELIFE.

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