Want to launch a drone business? Consider heading to Latvia

Want to launch a drone business? Consider heading to Latvia

The world has a few hotspots of drone industry growth. There’s of course Silicon Valley, but also lesser known places that have made waves, like Reno, Nevada, and North Dakota. But here’s one you probably haven’t been to: Latvia. The tiny country in the Northern European Baltic region is home to less than 2 million citizens. But it’s also home to nearly two dozen drone companies — a huge ratio compared to the tiny population. Among the drone companies proliferating in Latvia include AirDog, which designs a consumer-focused, action-sports drone that “follows-you” based on a device you wear on your wrist. Another company, Aerones, builds drones for a variety of enterprise functions including delivery, monitoring, firefighting, and wind turbine-cleaning. And agricultural drone maker AirBoard designs powerful drones that can carry pesticides to more accurately spray over fields. “Latvians have this innate expertise in hardware engineering,” said Elviss Straupenieks, CEO of AirBoard. “Latvians are people who like to build stuff themselves,” he said. “Just look at their houses. Rather than buy stuff, people like to get their hands dirty and make stuff for themselves.” Straupenieks said that culture of do-it-yourself engineering stems from the country’s education system. “It’s an engineering-focused ecosystem,” he said. AirBoard’s AGRO drone, which targets the agriculture industry While the country has a swath of drone companies, that’s not the only type of technology industry that is growing in Latvia. Everything from self-driving cars to t-shirt startups have been launched in the country. And the country is generally

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There’s a pilot summer camp for high school students

There’s a pilot summer camp for high school students

Most high school students will be studying for their SATs or scooping cones at the local ice cream parlor. But for some lucky high school students, they’ll head to pilot summer camp. The camp, held in Kansas, focuses on manned aviation. But given the crossover between drones and manned aircraft, it could be a must-do for Drone Girl readers, too. The four-day high school pilot summer camp, called Fly K-State Academy, will be held at Kansas State Polytechnic. It runs from July 22-25, 2019 and costs $1,200 (inclusive of all program supplies and instruction, 3.5 hours of flight time and 1 hour of simulator time, all meals and lodging in K-State Polytechnic residence halls). The Fly K-State Academy camp is open to high school students entering their freshman through senior year. During the camp, students will learn how to take off and land manned aircraft, perform flight maneuvers. They’ll participate in ground school, use a flight simulator and complete 3.5 hours of flight time. It all culminates in perhaps the highlight: taking a flight from Salina to Wichita, where they’ll have lunch at the renowned Stearman Field restaurant. In addition to working in the Stevens Flight Center and hands on learning on the flight line, students will stay in the residence halls, use the student life center and experience life as a K-State Polytechnic pilot student. Here are some of the things students can expect to learn: Mission #1 – pre flight inspection, take off and landing, traffic patterns (1

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A bunch of free FAA drone webinars kick off this week

Looking to expand your knowledge of the drone industry, from the drone regulators themselves? The Federal Aviation Administration just launched a free webinar series on drones, and the first one starts on Tuesday. Tomorrow’s live seminar will be led by FAA Safety Inspector Kevin Morris about why airspace matters, airspace authorizations and what you need to know to operate safely. Future FAA drone webinars will discuss topics like NOTAMS, Class E airspace and the LAANC program. Since it’s live and questions are encouraged, this is a rare opportunity to talk with FAA experts directly — no paperwork or hold music required. It’s also a great way to learn answers to tricky questions in the FAA Part 107 Remote Pilot Certificate exam, as many of the topics addressed in the webinar relate to questions on the test (passing the Part 107 test is a requirement to be able to operate a drone commercially in the U.S.). While the webinars are free, you must register. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis, and the registration period for each webinar will open two weeks prior to its scheduled start. The webinars will be hosted through AdobeConnect. And don’t worry if you miss it, because you won’t have to miss out. Audio transcripts of the webinars will be posted after each event, according to the FAA. Here’s a list of the other free FAA drone webinars: April 16, 4 p.m. ET The air up there: Airspace mattersRegistration is open and closes on April 15 at Noon

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Drone Girl to lead 2019 Lincoln County Photo Festival drone workshop

The words “drones” and “Nevada” might conjure up images of the myriad of Las Vegas-based drone conferences, of now-hard-to-get (due to FAA rules) aerial shots of the Las Vegas strip, or even that bizarre (and dangerous) airplane video. But there’s another reason for drone pilots to head to Nevada — and this one is pretty darn great. The 2019 Lincoln County Photo Festival will host a drone workshop this year, and it will be led by yours truly, The Drone Girl. The annual Lincoln County Photo Festival takes place this year on Friday, June 21 and Saturday, June 22 in Caliente, Nevada. It’s a huge event for professional photographers to participate in hands-on workshops at some of the most incredible locations Nevada has to offer. And it’s not just drones. Classes, which are held at unique high desert environments, delve into a variety of photography topics, including action/sports, sunset, night sky, wildlife, impressionist, travel, environmental portraiture, and photo editing. See the full schedule of events here. General admission tickets, which include access to all workshops and festival events, are available now at early bird prices for just $85. After May 15, prices rise to $115. Register here. All attendees start the weekend with a continental breakfast and orientation, and the days are capped with a dinner and time and space to edit some favorite shots from your time here. The Lincoln County Photo Festival drone workshop will be held on Friday, June 21 at 11 a.m. The course mixes classroom

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These drone companies got the most investment funding last year

These drone companies got the most investment funding last year

There’s still money flying around in the drone industry. $702 million was invested in drone companies by 299 investors, across 159 funding rounds throughout 2018. That’s according to a drone company investment report by research group DRONEII. The largest amount of investment funding for any one company went to secretive air taxi startup Joby Aviation, which raised $100 million in February 2018. Their investors included Intel, JetBlue and Toyota. Behind Joby Aviation came PrecisionHawk, which raised $75 million in January 2018 to “build upon its lead” in the commercial drone space by expanding its team, developing its products, and making “strategic acquisitions,” according to a statement. And their investment already paid off. At the end of 2018, DJI announced it had selected PrecisionHawk as its new provider of airspace data in North America, replacing former provider AirMap. Other notable funding rounds went to Skydio ($42 million), which designs ultra-flashy, sensor-covered drones that can be operated without a control, Israeli industrial dronemaker Airobotics ($40 million) drone entertainment company Verity Studios ($18 million), which put on the drone scene in Cirque du Soleil, drone delivery company Matternet ($16 million), and teen-helmed consumer drone maker Teal ($11 million). DRONEII’s report also quells fears that the drone industry could be seeing a slowdown, particularly some major news shocked many in the drone industry last year. A number of major companies last year either laid off swaths of employees, like GoPro, or closed completely, like Airware. But instead, the report found that a total of

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