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Measure Expedites Problem Resolution for Electrical Utilities with New Drone Toolkit for Linemen

Measure, the largest U.S. provider of drone services to enterprise customers, today announced a new drone toolkit that enables electrical utilities to build a professional drone inspection program staffed by their own linemen. The package trains and equips linemen to quickly and safely identify structural defects and damage on transmission lines, towers and substations, making it possible […]

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Epic Drone Footage Shows Surf Rescue in Portugal

Getting wiped out by 100ft waves is all part of the fun when surfing in Portugal’s Praia do Norte… The combination of drone and extreme sports is one that continues to capture the imaginations of aerial photographers. Crazy things just look better from above. Sure, it’s mostly to do with adrenaline. But one of the best […]

The post Epic Drone Footage Shows Surf Rescue in Portugal appeared first on DRONELIFE.

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Drones in the News: 6 Ways Major News Organizations are Pushing the Drone Industry Forward

Although we sometimes gripe about the bad PR drones can get in the news, the truth is that major news organizations have contributed greatly to helping push the drone industry forward.

In this article we’ll look at the different ways that major news organizations like CNN and ABC News have helped to push the drone industry forward, including advancements on the regulatory front, changes in public perception, and the creation of sound best practices.

Without further ado, here are six ways that news organizations are helping to push the drone industry forward.

1. Flying Over People

CNN was the first company ever issued a 107.39 waiver to fly over people.

To get this waiver, CNN partnered with the FAA through the Pathfinder Program and performed extensive research and testing, not to mention exhaustive documentation regarding the specs of their proposed drone and operation.

Which is all to say that, in many ways, CNN literally created the process whereby companies can apply for, and receive, a waiver to fly over people.

And their hard work is paying off. In the last three months the FAA has issued six 107.39 waivers to five new companies (CNN received one of these—it was their third), increasing the total number of 107.39 waivers from 4 to 10 in a very small window of time. CNN certainly deserves a lot of the credit for paving the way for new, smaller companies like AeroVista Innovations to secure their own 107.39 waivers.

And the pace of the progress has been seriously impressive—in late October we wrote about how there were only three companies with 107.39 waivers. Now, just six weeks later, there are seven.

Regulators want to see that the technology is safe for activities like flights over people, but they can’t demonstrate it’s safe until it’s used at a vast scale. CNN helped provide testing for the FAA, and created a path forward.

– Greg Agvent, CNN

2. Positive PR: Highlighting the Good Drones Can Do

News organizations know that public perception is important, and crucial in shaping future regulations for emerging industries, such as the drone industry.

By covering positive drone stories, especially following the disastrous 2017 hurricane season in which Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, and others ravaged many parts of the U.S.—not to mention the world—news organizations have helped to bring a positive spotlight onto the role drones can play in our lives.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta called Hurricane Harvey a watershed moment for the drone industry. This is largely the case not just because drones helped people in Houston and surrounding areas impacted by the hurricane, but because the media reported on that help.

This video from ABC News highlights the ways drones helped first responders during Hurricane Harvey:

Here is another video from ABC News showing how a drone helped first responders locate and save a man trapped in his home during a flood following severe flooding caused by Hurricane Matthew in North Carolina last year.


3. Sharing New Perspectives—Literally

This one is subtle, but when you think about, simply using aerial footage shot by drones has changed the way we view the news (and the world!).

For a long time, news organizations could only use helicopters when they wanted to share aerial footage. This meant that aerial shorts weren’t as common, and were often of traffic or other controlled scenarios that had been planned out well in advance.

But the relative low cost and ease of using drones means that they can be used regularly, and that news organizations can cover stories they may not have even considered in the past. And this means that the ways news organizations are using drones is literally changing how we see the world.

Check out the ABC News video below about a volcano in Iceland. Can you imagine this story without the aerial shots?


4. Creating and Implementing Sound Best Practices

Waivers to fly over people are just one part of the much larger story about how news organizations are helping to create sound best practices for the use of drones in media, and aerial cinematography in general.

The manuals and supporting materials that CNN has created for their drone operations is seriously impressive. In his keynote at InterDrone, Greg Agvent of CNN stressed how hard they worked to create and document their processes for the use of drones, as well as underscoring the fact that they use drones as needed—that is, when an aerial shot is absolutely necessary—and not simply because they might provide a neat addition to a story.

We do a ton of reports. We do risk assessments, create ops manuals, training manuals, and help to create a firm foundation for operating in national airspace.

– Greg Agvent, CNN, speaking in a keynote at InterDrone 2017

5. Covering—and Helping—During Disasters around the World

Hurricane Harvey may have thrust the usefulness of drones in disaster scenarios into the spotlight, but news organizations have been using drones in to cover—and help—following disasters for a while now.

After a natural disaster, drones can provide insight into the status of an area in real time, without risking the lives of personnel to reconnoiter the scene on foot.

Following a massive, devastating earthquake in Nepal, CNN used drones not only to cover the story but also to share information with the Nepalese authorities about which villages had been most severely impacted.

Since these villages were located in places that were rendered inaccessible due to a mudslide resulting from the earthquake, CNN’s information collected via drone was crucial in helping Nepalese authorities decide which areas to prioritize for disaster relief.


Last year, ABC News used drones to help provide information following a huge earthquake in Ecuador:


And of course, CNN reporting on Hurricane Harvey enabled by drones helped assess damage and locate survivors:


6. Acting as Ambassadors for the Drone Industry

In addition to highlighting the good that drones do in the world, news organizations act as ambassadors to government agencies and organizations throughout the world, both normalizing the use of drones and helping create the actual policies by which drones can be used in different countries.

News organizations are often the first to be granted special flight permissions by government entities, which is significant because it sets a precedent. By acting as a trusted, reputable, and responsible agent when it comes to drone flights, news organizations help create a possible path forward for other organizations and companies to be granted similar permissions.

A prime example is the FAA’s progress in issuing waivers to fly over people (#1 above). By creating a sound process, CNN literally paved the path forward so that the FAA could start issuing more (and more!) 107.39 waivers.

But that is just one example of how news organizations are acting as ambassadors for the drone industry. CNN has also been given special permission to fly in places that are otherwise off limits, such as during the Peal Harbor Anniversary, and in other restricted areas throughout the world.

The relationships and policies that news organizations have helped forge with various governments will only help as as we all work together to push the drone industry forward.

Hurrah for the progress we’ve already made, and here’s to seeing even more soon.

The post Drones in the News: 6 Ways Major News Organizations are Pushing the Drone Industry Forward appeared first on UAV Coach.

How to Find Work in the Drone Industry: The Growing Importance of Professional Training

Note: This article first appeared on the InterDrone blog.

A lot has changed in the drone industry since the FAA first launched the Part 107 rules over a year ago, in August of 2016.

Image source

In that time we’ve seen drones grow more sophisticated, more focused on niche applications, and cheaper in general. We’ve also seen the rise of the droneprenuer, the drone service provider who works for him- or herself, usually doing aerial cinematography but also, in some cases, doing work in surveying, mapping, or other applications.

The droneprenuer model is appealing because it promises financial freedom. But in the rush to start their own business and work for themselves, some drone pilots overlook the importance of gaining solid professional experience.

Who Gets the Job: Why Professional Training Is So Important

At InterDrone in September of this year we saw seven different specialized enterprise tracks for attendees:

  • UAVs in Construction
  • Surveying and Mapping
  • Precision Agriculture
  • Mining and Aggregates
  • Police, Fire, and Emergency Response
  • Infrastructure Inspection
  • Videography

Seven tracks—just think about that.

The number of tracks alone indicates how important training and specialization has already become when it comes to finding work in the drone industry. That trend will only continue as drones become adopted in more and more scenarios, and more and more specific skill sets are required to be paired with the ability to fly well.

I think a lot of people assume that you can get a certification from the federal government and the money’s going to start pouring in.

– Alan Perlman, CEO and Founder of UAV Coach // Drone Pilot Ground School

It may have initially been the case that simply knowing how to fly was enough to make a drone pilot stand out and help him or her find work. But as the market gets more saturated with certified drone pilots, this approach just won’t work any more.

While there are still many droneprenuers who hang their shingle and offer every kind of service possible—not just aerial cinematography, but also aerial thermography, 3D mapping, and anything else you might need—the truth is that those who are trained and have a specialized niche are the ones who are actually making money.

A recent report from Skylogic Research showed that while the vast majority of drone service providers (46%) are working in aerial cinematography, at the top of the list of those making over $100K a year were pilots doing work in Surveying / Mapping / GIS.

The report also found that the top two applications most likely to be outsourced (i.e., where a dronepreneur might find steady work) were Agriculture / Farming Services and Utilities Inspections. That is, areas that require an extra level of professional training, in addition to simply knowing how to fly.

Image source

But in some ways, this is all getting ahead of ourselves. Before launching a drone services business, it’s also important to become a proficient pilot, and log the hours needed to become a proficient pilot.

After this, it’s important to master the skill set you’re going to be selling. If you’re going to work in aerial cinematography, you have to become proficient in post production and cinematography, and the entire world of skill sets required to create sellable video footage. If you’re going to work in mapping, you have to become proficient in mapping software, and in the terms and perspectives your clients will bring to the table when they request a finished product.

This is not to say that you can’t find work, or that you should feel discouraged—quite the opposite, actually.

There is a lot of work out there, but it requires real, professional training. Right now it would be much better to hone in on a specific application and become incredibly good at it than to offer everything under the sun (imagine being an expert at all seven of those enterprise tracks InterDrone offered this year—pretty unlikely, right?).

The quality of your work will differentiate you from competitors, especially those who are continuing to offer everything, and doing nothing especially well.

For more on the importance of professional training, check out InterDrone’s recent podcast with Alan Perlman, our CEO and Founder:


Growing Opportunities in STEM for Young Pilots

Earlier this year the Atlantic reported on students in the Kentucky Valley Educational Cooperative participating in a competition where they designed, built, engineered, and tested their own drones.

The competition came at the end of a year-long high school class in aerospace and aviation, in which drones figured prominently as opportunities for students to learn various aspects of aerospace engineering and design.

Scenarios like this are cropping up throughout the U.S., and the combination of drones and STEM education is timely, since jobs in STEM fields have been forecasted to grow at an exponential rate over the next several years.

Drones offer an enticing entry point for STEM studies, in that students generally perceive them as cool and fun. Students who start out simply interested in flying may end up excited about STEM studies, and either pursuing a future career in a STEM field—of which there are many—or in the growing drone industry itself.

Following the growing trend of drones being used in STEM education, Drone Pilot Ground School, a leading remote test prep course for the FAA’s Part 107 exam based in the U.S., recently launched the High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots to support high school students who want to become certified commercial drone pilots.

As the use of drones in STEM studies grows, we may see an emerging generation of drone pilots who are not just good at flying, but experts in specific niches, such as mapping or thermography—and if they get started in high school they will almost certainly have a leg up when they do enter the job market.

Know a high school student interested in pursuing FAA certification to fly drones commercially? Make sure to tell him or her about Drone Pilot Ground School’s new scholarship.

The post How to Find Work in the Drone Industry: The Growing Importance of Professional Training appeared first on UAV Coach.

Kittyhawk Drone App Adds Feature to Set and Enforce Flight Standards

Kittyhawk, a developer of drone flight management software, has announced the addition of Flight Profiles, a new feature to its expanding enterprise platform. The feature will allow fleet operations managers and Chief Pilots to automatically set and enforce a set of flight standards across their teams. Profiles can be set to prevent take-offs in “Attitude Mode,” […]

The post Kittyhawk Drone App Adds Feature to Set and Enforce Flight Standards appeared first on DRONELIFE.

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