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DroneAdvisor Blog: The latest on the drone / UAV marketspace

​Real Estate: Using Drones To Stand Out As An Agent

With so much saturation in the real estate agent market, it takes something to stand out. In the past it has been * and now it's time to move on. Add a drone element to real estate listings and your marketing efforts to really be distinctive compared to your competition. Drones provide an entire new real estate experience for both the agent and their clients. Everybody benefits from having beautiful, sky-high shots of neighborhoods and homes.


You can be far more creative with drone footage compared to standard, eye-height pictures. From professional edits to awesome effects and transitions, drones allow you to showcase your properties in Ultra HD 4K resolution. You can also program your drone to do a combination of pictures and film, allowing you to create the best possible mixture that will gather the interest of every viewer.


By giving prospective buyers and in depth, complete 360* angle at the properties, Real Estate agents will cut down on the amount of properties they show for those who aren't interested. In effect, it will also increase your success rate -- those who actually want to see it in person after already getting a drone view will be more interested, thus more likely to complete the purchase or lease/rental.

Surrounding Areas:

Every prospective buyer or renter doesn't just care about the property, but the surrounding areas. With drones you can provide them that information in gorgeous visuals, while only taking up a few seconds of screen time. From nearby nature to nearby roads and schools, a birds eye view of a neighborhood exposes that beauty as much as possible.


If you are a real estate agent, not only are you fighting for customers who want a property, but you are also trying to get perspective sellers to enlist you as their agent. One of the qualities sellers look for in an agent is the ability to market. Not just on billboards and TV advertisements, but also by being unique and drawing attention by going above and beyond the normal expectations. Drones do just that, and if you add aerial footage to your portfolio, you'll be seeing a lot more sellers coming your way.

Aerial footage is not a new thing with drones when it comes to real estate. In the past, major developers and agencies have used it to market multi-million dollar listings. The difference is that drones are now affordable. Those just entering the profession can master it and provide themselves a distinct edge right from the start. Young or old, experienced or a novice, male or female, anybody can learn how to fly a drone inside and outside of a property in order to be able to get the best still pictures and video footage. Not only can anybody master it, but anybody can afford it, as there are many drones available on the market for just a couple hundred dollars.


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Coexisting: Hobbyist Drones With Military Affairs

While drones on the open marketplace is a generally new concept for consumers – only in the past few years have they become available and popular – the Military has been working on it for far longer. In fact, it's fair to say that various military branches and other federal offices revolutionized the drone. With exceptional warfare capabilities, drones have been used to take out some of the most dangerous terrorists on Earth. As covered before, they are extremely accurate, cause virtually no collateral damage, and achieve military objectives with relative ease.

The problem is that this technology has to be tested before it can actually work in the real world. Millions, if not billions of dollars have gone into the research and development of drone warfare over the past several decades. The primary location where their success is measured is not in a battlefield in the Middle East, but rather on military bases located on domestic soil. Millions of people (including myself) live within just a few miles of military bases. As the consumer drone market skyrockets, the danger is clear.

Even as the FAA has now required all hobby and commercial drones to be registered with the federal agency, the threat of a catastrophic collision still looms large. It isn't just governmental drones at risk, but expensive aircraft with human pilots. This threat isn't just perceived, but it's real, as there have been multiple cases of dangerously close altercations between military aircraft and small, hobbyist drones. The FAA has the exact number at three dozen just this year.

While the drone registration allows law enforcement to find out who was responsible for the airspace violations, it only helps after the fact. It is vital to find a solution that protects our military while ensuring everyday users can still operate them without much hassle.

One of those possible solutions might lie in the software that operates the drones. Today most consumer UAVs ship with a maximum height limit, as to avoid having them fly over the legal 400-feet limit. However, all a user has to do is plug in the drone to their computer and manually change that limit. Sure, if you remove that option, some hacker could figure out a way to still override it. However, that will be a very small percentage of users, whereas today a million drone owners can do it.

It remains to be seen whether major companies like DJI follow through with such a plan, or what other solutions they may be able to impose. It would be best to have the manufacturers figure out a way to end this problem rather than with more laws and regulations. At this rate, it's only sooner or later when a disaster will occur. Rather than be one step behind, we should be proactive and attempt to solve this problem before actual human lives are lost. Drones can coexist with military affairs, it's just a matter of figuring out how. 


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Thermal Imaging With Drones

Thermal imagers have found uses in dozens of industries. Developers use it constructing a building, inspectors use it when inspecting one, and law enforcement has tons of different scenarios where it becomes vital. Not to mention the many different small businesses that can benefit from it (such as heating & A/C companies).It allows us to get a unique view that shows temperature differences, something that we can't do with the human eye… or any technology prior. The best way to think about thermal images is by thinking of infrared. Infrared energy is found in every object, and it is proportional to the temperature of the object.

Drone's themselves also allows us to have a different perspective. It's not exactly unique – there were many ways to get a birds eye view of something prior to drone technology, it was just real expensive and not accessible to a vast majority of the public, including students, researchers, and anyone who has a mild curiosity. When you combine the incredible aspects of drone technology with that of thermal imaging, it becomes an incredibly powerful mixture that can help possibly hundreds of different career fields, as well as becoming a resourceful new tool for research projects.

The best way to start using this technology is by hiring an expert who deals with drone thermal imaging, or renting a unit that is already put together. There are a couple reasons for that. First of all, thermal air cameras are not cheap by any means; you would really have to use it often to justify the cost (it'll put a hole in any budget). Second, the technology is so advanced that training is necessary in order to get the most out of the camera. Combined with software that can read and analyze the data in ways you've never thought possible, you want to utilize it at it's maximum potential.


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The Time Is Now: Register Your Drone…or else!

We spoke about it in the past. The FAA has been planning to require drone owners to register their devices. Well that day is finally here. All Drones that meet their requirements (more on that below) must be registered with the federal government. If you already own one, your deadline to register the drone is February 19, 2016. If you will just be getting one now (or starting on Dec 21st), likely for the holiday's, you must register your drone before the first flight. There are ways to tap into the drone software and see when the first flight was, so you would likely not win an argument with federal officials regarding drone registration.

Not all drones have to be registered, however. If your drone weighs less than 0.55 pounds, you are not required to register it. In addition, the drone must have the capability to carry loads, attach cameras, or be able to carry anything else besides the drone. This obviously applies to 99% of the consumer drones out there, so for all of us owners out there, it's time we told the government who we are, and what drone we own!

While companies that use drones for commercial reasons are not required to register them, you can only legally use a drone for commercial use if you have a specially acquired license or exemption from the government. Thus, they are still able to know who the drone belongs to. As we mentioned before, the major rules regarding commercial use of drones (and the ones that will affect our ability to make money on the side, and the ability of companies like Amazon to offer delivery services) should be getting released sometime in the next 2 to 3 months – we'll keep you posted on that.

While there is a registration fee of $5 (which is surprising, as the task force that recommended drone registration said it should be free, or cost no more than a dollar), it is being waived if you register your drone before January 20th 2016. Anyone who buys, or registers their drone after that date will be required to pay the $5 cost to register their drone.

You have two options to register your drone: you can either do it online, via the FAA website, or you can do it by paper. Regardless, once your drone is registered, it will be valid for the next three years. All registered drones are required to have their assigned registration number displayed on their drone at all times. The FAA has said that those who fail to register their drones (or display the number) can be subject to civil or criminal penalties, which includes seizing your drone. While the exact violations have not been disclosed yet, and I'm sure they're also trying to figure it out as we go, it is pretty easy to see the importance of registering your drone. It's a simple, easy step that takes minutes to do, and can help separate those who lawfully use drones and those who don't. 


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If You Can Disable A Drone You Get $100,000

Help Needed! Help Needed!

That's the sound that the federal government is making. They know drone's are going to be flying all over the place. They know people will brake the rules regarding how, when, and where to fly them, no matter how hard they try to make people aware of them and why they are there. It also seems like their research has hit a speed bump: they are unable to remote disable them without causing a fireworks show. 

That is why they are now appealing to the general public for help. While we are busy looking for ways to expand the use of our drones, they are looking for ways to prevent potential problems. A company called MITRE, which is funded by the government, is using that angle to find ways that emergency responders can disable a drone if it's flying somewhere it's not supposed to be, or otherwise breaking any of the rules or guidelines that they have released.

In a competition which will be hosted by MITRE, they are offering a reward of $100,000 to whoever can come up with any legitimate technology that will help them get as much control over airspace as possible. Spread out over a payment of $60,000 and two of $20,000, they need help in two different aspects: tracking drones while they are in the sky, thus alerting monitoring officials of an impending breach. Secondly, they need help in taking down that device remotely. Just what type of infrastructure will be needed to implement it for scaled use is obviously unknown until the possibilities are introduced for the competition, which is scheduled for September or October 2016. 

The hope is that there comes one idea where both problems are solved simultaneously, with a system that can monitor and disable drones regardless of where they are at the control of a trained operator. While this competition is surely to present some feasible solutions (and some that are not), one has to wonder that if federal researchers on large budgets haven't been able to do it thus far, it's not exactly an easy task. While there have been reports of radio beams used to shut drones down, it has not been widely tested and doesn't exactly seem like the best solution for small, local law enforcement agencies that will be dealing with a majority of the problems. 

$100,000 may seem like a lot, but if a company or individual were to develop a working and implementable system that can be used by agencies across the world, it can easily be a lucrative, multi-million dollar program that will likely not reach the public eye. That's why I look at the competition with a grain of salt; if such technologies are made public, those who want to avoid the tracking and disabling system will surely be able to do a few modifications that can bypass and stay "under the radar." It may actually be better for all of us if we don't know how, when, or where our drones are being tracked and monitored, keeping those who can't follow the rules honest.

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Saving Lives Pt 2: Preventing Shark Attacks

​The many industries that drone's can help in is evident given the many categories you can find a drone operator for here on Drone Advisor. We've covered before how drones have helped spot accident victims, missing persons, and help with disaster relief efforts. It's time to add one more area to that list: shark attacks.

Australia is currently developing a system, in which they have invested millions on dollars for, where UAV's will watch the seas from above, feeding live, high-definition pictures to real people who will then spot sharks and alert beach areas in danger before any damage can be done. Australia has been under a shark attack problem over the last decade, which is a major reason why the government sponsored the program. In 2006, just seven shark attacks were reported in the country, leading to one death. Fast forward to 2014, the latest year on record, when there were 19 shark attacks, leading to 5 fatalities. To show you just how bad it has gotten, think about the United States, who has averaged 19 attacks per year but only one death every two years, even though it has over 10 times the population and much larger in size.

Still, if you can save 5 lives in a year in just one country in one very limited task, imagine what widespread use in every country can accomplish. While drone's are just one of the many ways Australia is improving safety on their shores, they are also leading the way for other countries to follow suit. There might not be an area where UAV's can make such as big impact as the ocean. From finding missing boats to conducting oceanic research and even preventing shark attacks, they can do what other technology can't, while also being a much more cost-effective option.


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Drones & Military: Extremely Accurate

Drone's have been a hotly debated topic in the political sphere since the world found out multiple countries are using them to spy on their own citizens, and some cases even kill their most-wanted citizens. At the same time, there is no doubt their use has rapidly expanded among the military of numerous countries, especially the United States. Over $2.9 billion dollars was appropriated for drone research -- and I promise you that money isn't going towards private or commercial flying research. It's that extremely costly amount that has people up in arms about whether or not it is actually worth the money, among other moral and ethical concerns.

It seems that the governments are right and the critics are wrong in this one. The vast amounts of research and expanded use has resulted in immense capabilities that leaders have only dreamed about. The most recent example can be seen in the United Kingdom. A new report coming out of England shows that in light of Britain's year-long offensive relying extensively on aerial technology and Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), they have successfully killed 305 ISIS targets. That seems like good news, right?

Here's the kicker: ​There have been zero civilian deaths in that offensive.

Imagine how different the story would have been during any previous major war where a country could accomplish its military objectives without causing any collateral damage. By green-lighting hundreds of attacks over the past year, the UK has shown the world, and the critics, of just how revolutionary this technology can be at fighting global terrorism and promoting worldwide peace. Some of the most important military targets eliminated over the past couple years have been thanks to drone's, and their pinpoint accuracy cannot be overstated. 

In addition, it proves that airstrikes can be successful at curbing terrorist groups and is an even more compelling reason for other countries to join in the battle. Over are the days where you have to sacrifice thousands of young men in order to win a battle, a country can be just as effective by launching drone airstrikes from the sky. That's exactly what Prime Minister David Cameron has been saying, and this information provides a compelling reason for others to follow suit. Unlike nuclear technology that can be used against you if it gets into the wrong hands, drone's won't be an effective tool if they get into the hands of terrorists, as most developed countries have spent exponentially more money on their air defense systems, while undeveloped nations, especially in the Middle East, have not. 


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FAA Update: Checklist For New Drone Buyers

The FAA hasn't released their official regulations yet, those aren't expected until sometime in 2016. But with 400,000-plus new drones expected in the sky within the next month, they released an "I Fly Safe" checklist that is intended to tell drone users what they can and cannot do with their drones. Some are pretty obvious, such as never flying within 5 miles of an airport. Others are not as concrete, such as always flying within your visual line of sight. While it is made more for some of the new drone flyers, it mentions nothing about the use of First Person View (FPV) technology to fly outside of your visual sight.

Here is the checklist as well as some of our comments:

  • I Fly Below 400 Feet
    • Though many of us have toyed with the settings in our drones and flew over 400 feet, it is obviously not recommended. Your chance of the drone malfunctioning go up with every feet over 400, as well as the chance for a crash with another object in the sky. 
  • I always fly within visual line of sight 
    • They make no mention of the use of FPV kits. Does an FPV keep meet the requirement of "commercial" activity and thus requiring a license? Without such a kit, it is always a good idea to be able to see where your drone is! 
  • I'm aware of FAA airspace requirements: faa.gov/go/uastfr 
  • I never fly over groups of people 
    • How many people constitute a group? And in what type of area? Would a beach count? These are questions the FAA will have to answer, sooner rather than later. 
  • I never fly over stadiums and sports events 
    • Just about every stadium has banned the public from using them on their property, so you'll get in big trouble regardless. 
  • I never fly within 5 miles of an airport without first contacting air traffic control and airport authorities 
    • If you already have a drone, I hope you have been following this rule! It's pretty much the first one every new owner learns, and it's the most important. 
  • I never fly near emergency response efforts such as fires 
    • I don't get the point of this one as much. In fact, drones have been documented to help in such emergency response efforts. Maybe not fires, but there are many other examples. 
  • I never fly near other aircraft 
    • A good question to ask would be if this rule covers other drones as well? 
  • I never fly under the influence 
    • Don't try this! 

The intent is to, of course, make drones safe for everyone, especially the ones who don't have or want one. Nobody wants to feel like their privacy is being invaded, and nobody wants to feel threatened. While minds are changing, there are still vocal opponents to commercial drones. Some of the reasons are valid too, such as this terrible accident that happened not too long ago. Still, there is a way to co-exist and the FAA is attempting to draw that balance. Hopefully they released detailed specifics on some of these points, including how they will try to enforce them.


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Black Friday Drone Specials

By now we all know how big this holiday season is expected to be for the drone market. Millions of new drones will be flying the skies over the next few months, and one can reasonably expect many of those to be purchased for Black Friday. EVERYBODY is getting into the business of offering big discounts, and that included industry leader DJI, as well as retail giants like Amazon.com.

Check below for some of the very best deals that will be available!


  • Sky Viper Stunt Drone
    • A simple drone generally made for beginners and children, this drone is recommended for someone on a low budget that ones to start getting involved. In addition, if you've never flown one before, the Black Friday price of $25 will hardly put a dent in your wallet in case of a crash.

JC Penny

  • Sky King Camera Drone
    • The Sky King is also perfect for beginners – but those who actually want to record what they fly over. Instead of spending $700 or $1,000 on an expensive drone, learn to fly with the Sky King while also getting spectacular footage, as it's on sale for $49.99 (rather than its original price of $149.99).


  • Parrot Bebop HD Drone
    • A mix of technology and price, the Bebot from Parrot is a perfect drone to gift to someone. At only $400, you'd be hard-pressed to find an HD-capable drone for that price, new out of the box. It's retail price is $505, so it's a neat savings of over 20%. It's HD camera has 14 megapixels – more than the newest, most expensive iPhone on the market. It also has a similar 3-axis gimbal like the ones found on the popular DJI devices that cost double.

Best Buy

  • 3DR Solo
    • There are generally two brands that make up the high-end drone market, and that is 3D Robotics and DJI (though Parrot has been making headway as of late). The new 3DR Solo is a highly-featured drone that compares well to the DJI Phantom 3. Best Buy currently will sell you the Solo for only $899 (costs $999 otherwise) with the purchase of the 3DR Solo gimbal. Probably more than 90% of Solo owners will purchase the gimbal anyways, as what fun is to have a thousand-dollar drone if it can't take pictures or video (the gimbal is what holds the camera). Saving 100 bucks is a pretty good deal on one of the most popular devices out there, made in the U.S. by an American company.

DJI Store

  • DJI Phantom 3 Professional
    • By purchasing the professional DJI Phantom 3 on Black Friday, you can net a savings of $200. This is due to the $100 discount and the second battery that automatically ships with the device, saving you another $100 (almost every drone owner ends up purchasing at least one spare battery, so it's a great deal). In total, you will pay $1,159 for the drone and an extra battery. It normally costs $1,259 for the drone alone.
  • DJI Phantom 3 Standard
    • Quite possibly the best value buy of the season, the DJI Phantom 3 standard is also getting a $200 special. Unlike the professional, all $200 come directly off the price, retailing for a neat $599 rather than the original $799 that it will rise to after the country's largest shopping day.

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Drones In Health & Safety: Saving People's Lives

When it comes to humanitarian and charity aid, the relief process has been generally the same for many decades. Go to areas that desperately need help and give people water, food, and shelter to those who many need it. Way before the dot-com bubble and even the industrial revolution, this was the way one could help those in need, in their local communities or abroad. For the first time ever, a legitimate resource is arriving to help charities and those who spend their lives trying to help others.

Think about the case of police officers in the Canadian providence of Nova Scotia. They were able to use a commercially available drone to find an entire family who went missing after a long hike in a heavily wooded area. The emergency responders spent hours looking for the family with the help of highly-trained K9's and expensive vehichles. Yet, it was by using a Draganflyer X4-ES drone (which they attached a high resolution infrared red camera to) that they were actually able to locate and rescue the family, which even included a 1-year-old toddler. The same police forced used the same drone to literally save the life of a motorist involved in an accident and left unconscious miles from the scene.

Or think a decade back, when Hurricane Katrina made the streets of coastal Louisiana and Mississippi inhabitable. The only way to help people stranded was by going house-to-house, door-to-door. With every road covered in feet of water, there were only two possible ways to reach them: via vote or via the sky. Drones were real then, but the technology was not even close to where it is today. Still, they were successfully used to find and help people stranded in those communities.

If that doesn't convince you, look 1,000 miles north to Fitchburg, Wisconsin. After the city spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of man-hours to search for a missing man, a drone owner in the city was able to locate the 82-year-old after just 20 minutes of trying. If this became common practice, millions of dollars could be saved across the country, and the world.

Drones truly do help save lives. From first-responders in a domestic setting to humanitarian aid in 3rd world countries, the possibilities are endless. The more people begin to adapt the technology, the better it's going to get. Imagine in the future when they can fly 100 or 200 miles away from its pilot, equipped with self-charging systems and more. From drug smugglers on our own borders to terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq, missions that previously put humans at risk can now be done real time with relatively little money being invested in a single device. In fact, the public sector may very well find more uses for aerial technology than the private one, though both can continue to help further it to make the world a better, and safer place.

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The Best Sport Ever: Drone Racing League

Just when you thought we've seen it all when it comes to sports...enter the DRL, or the Drone Racing League. If you are like me, you will be thoroughly excited at the proposition of watching drones compete around man-made courses for a victory. Along with many interested viewers, the DRL should also get plenty of interest for some of the top players in the market, including DJI, 3DR, and Parrot.

DRL Chief Executive Officer Nick Horbaczewski has managed to book at least seven races through the next year, including one at the Dolphins NFL stadium in Miami, Florida. Unlike most traditional sports that heavily rely on live attendance and live broadcasts on TV and Radio for their business model, DRL plans to take an alternate route. There won't be much of an audience or any packed beer stands, but there will be many drones.

"We're focused on post-produced content. It's the most compelling way to see this. Our goal is to create great content, and we're sure it'll find a home and an audience," said Horbaczewski. That means providing a viewing experience from mounted camera's on the drone – similar to what we see with consumer drones today. In terms of a race, all of the action will be seen in first-person, making it even more exciting and allowing viewers to envision themselves as the pilot. In addition, as the Nick Horbaczewski, you can make content after production much more enjoyable and appealing compared to raw, live footage.

The drones and the courses are being designed specifically to look stunning after editing. They will be custom-built drones that far exceed publically available technology, as these UAV's will go faster than 80 miles per hour while making sharp turns and avoiding collisions with other drones (though that would look pretty cool on video as well). It's even cooler for the pilots or "drivers", as they get to wear extremely awesome electronic goggles that provide a first-person-view (FPV) of the camera, allowing them to see the position of the drone even when it's behind a wall, away from their physical line of sight. Even better, the post-production video will include footage from other cameras mounted on the drone – even one's that the pilots can't see as maneuver the course.

Up until this league, major manufacturers such as the ones mentioned above weren't at all interested in racing drones. They cost too much to make, there are too many constant repairs to be made, and they are not viable for a mainstream audience, just to name a few of their complaints. I anticipate the DRL to go viral and explode the industry, causing those same companies to race (no pun intended) onto the scene. Everyone is fascinated by drone's – far more than people who are intrigued by Tough Mudder, a sport that Nick Horbaczewski also helped to build from a small, regional event to something watched by over a million people worldwide in the matter of a few years, prior to starting the DRL. If Tough Mudder can get 1 or 2 million viewers for an event, high-tech drone races might be able to get 10 or 20 million. Those eye-popping numbers will grab anyone's attention. 

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Drone Flight Training School

Believe it or not, but drone flight training schools are now a real thing. We're not just talking about some commercial business trying to profit on teaching users – but a major university getting the go-ahead from the federal government. It is significant for a number of reasons: it expands drones into part of our education system, for one. Secondly, it also signals that the Federal Aviation Administration, or the FAA, who have the go-ahead, is prepared to allow the use of drone's for commercial purposes. We all knew it was coming sooner or later, but seeing them make this step means we're right around the corner.

The lucky school in this case is Kansas State University, and their polytechnic campus located in Salina, Kansas, about an hour away from the university's main campus. They are the first organization – be it a school, business, charity, or anything else – that got approval to provide training for unmanned aerial vehicles, or drone's. The only other industry to come remotely close is the film/television business, which only got approval to train a very limited number of inside staff. This new program that KSU will be offering soon will be open to all students, and it's not limited by any field of study.

Starting in the next fall semester (2016), they will be able to enroll in classes that will go through operation and training for the use of multi-rotor drones, fixed-wing drones, and then on using advanced technology such as imaging software available to cameras, autopilot software for the drone itself, and many other advances that are constantly being made in the drone world. It mimics the training program that airplane pilots have to go in order to also become flight instructors, offering different levels of expertise and certification based on flight time and experience.

Kansas State was the ideal school to get such an exemption from the government, as they already have one of the largest interior facilities in the country made for drone flights. To go along with the flight training approval given by the FAA, they will also have the authority to train outside, virtually anywhere in the country not near restricted air space (such as an airport or the White House). With a B.S. program in the UAV field that continues to grow exponentially, the demand for drone pilots will also grow once the regulatory agency decides to give the green light to commercial businesses.

The signs are more apparent every single day that the drone industry will be entrenched in our everyday lives. From our local businesses to major retailers, or top-secret government programs to wide-open educational opportunities, they are the technology of the future. As this blog has covered and will continue to cover, UAV's can help satisfy the needs of the least fortunate, sagging industries, and every-day consumers. It won't be long until every state in the country has a drone-training program at a state institution.


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We're Getting A Drone Registry

The Drone Task Force, which is composed of federal regulators, drone manufacturers, and others who have some relation to the industry, finally gave its recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration. That recommendation was to have all consumers register their drone with the FAA. They would then send you a registration sticker, which would have to be visible on the drone. While there is no guarantee that the final decision will green-light this registry, it seems very likely that it will in fact be imposed, possibly as early as the next few weeks.

Here's what we know, and don't know so far:

What We Know

  • Can be registered via snail mail, over the internet, or on your phone
  • Only drone's that weigh more than 0.55 pounds would be subject to registration
  • Only a name and address will be kept on file for each drone
  • It is technically a pilot registration more than the drone. So if you have more than one drone, you only have to register once and can use the same number on each drone.

What We Don't Know

  • Will there be a registration fee for drone owners? The task force has recommended no fee, but with Washington politics and bureaucracy also at play within the FAA, I'll believe it when I see it.
  • What would happen if a drone is found to be unregistered?
  • Can you transfer a registration to someone else?
  • When exactly will registrations begin?
  • Does the 0.55 pounds include the gimbal and/or camera, or just the base weight of the drone?
  • Anything else regarding drone regulations!

It is basically meant to keep an active record of all drone owners. If a drone is captured flying over restricted air space, it would be easy to identify the owner, for example. Or if it malfunctions and crashes, a Good Samaritan would be able to turn it in, with the FAA likely being able to track down its owner.

There are still quite a bit of problems that need to be solved: can these numbers be transferred if you sell a drone? If not, how quickly can it be done? What if the new owner simply uses the previous owner's registration and does something illegal, causing authorities to think the previous owner is at fault. Would there need to be a bill-of-sale to show proof of transfer of ownership, such as when selling a car?

Hopefully when the full rules come out, as early as the start of December, we will have answers to all these and many other questions that will surely arise from such an extensive registry. The hope is that the FAA and DOT can safely regulate and keep track of drones, consumer and commercial, without creating a whole new federal bureaucracy


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Invest In The Drone Industry

With one million drones expected to be sold this holiday season, it's fair to say that the drone industry is about to take off over the next year. 2016 will bring us the long-awaited Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations on the use of commercial drones. It is widely expected that they will legalize the use of drones for commercial purposes, though at this point nobody knows to just what extent.

With GoPro also planning to launch their own drone line in the next year or two, along with the huge strides that US-based 3D Robotics (also known as 3DR) is making in the drone market share, it is a great time to invest in such companies. That's just the commercial side of it – when you think about the growing use of military applications in drones, and the amount of companies grows exponentially. Below are some of the hottest picks in today's market. Keep a look out for future updates as we will keep you informed of some hyped IPO's from companies that are not traded publicly.

Companies To Start Investing In Now

  • GoPro [GPRO]
    • GoPro has benefited greatly already from the drone industry. Until recently, most drones in consumers hands used a GoPro camera to record footage. That means if someone has a drone, it likely has a GoPro attached to it. While their deal with DJI fell through (which led to DJI including their own 4K camera on their most recent release), GoPro has decided to enter the drone industry itself. With their stock trading in the low-20's, it is a great buy from a company that has already revolutionized media in the 21st century.
  • AeroVironment [AVAV]
    • AeroVironment is currently one of the few publically traded companies that is solely focused on the development of drones, mostly for governmental and military purposes. However, their CEO recently announced that the company is planning on entering the commercial market in the near future. Given that the industry is set to explode for both sectors of the industry, they are well positioned to make a name for themselves in the market. Also trading at a low-mid 20's price, it is a worthwhile investment for a company that has twice in the last six years peaked at $40.
  • Parrot [PARRO]
    • Parrot is currently the only stock you can buy from a company that already sells drones to consumers. They recently came out with the AR Drone 2, a wi-fi capable "smart" drone that has been popular in the industry. Along with 3D Robotics and DJI, Parrot is the third company of a three-headed-monster that controls virtually all the market share for advanced consumer drones. The stock is currently trading double what it was at this time last year, and we can expect it to grow as the industry continues to skyrocket into a multi-billion dollar market.

Companies Not Yet Public

  • DJI
  • 3D Robotics

You want to keep a close eye on these companies. They are big and popular, and speculation of an IPO has been ongoing for both. At this time, however, they are still privately owned, shunning investors from the opportunity.

The technology industry has been steadily rising over the past few years, in part thanks to the drone industry (though by no means the only reason). As we get into 2016 and even 2017, we can expect them to play a bigger role in shaping the market. Even in case of a recession where consumer interest will surely be diminished, the increasing opportunities for the commercial and governmental sector make this industry one to keep a close eye on.


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Using Drones To Improve Logistics

When most people think of drones, two things come to mind: the military using them as weapons overseas, and photographers/hobbyists using them for fun domestically. But if you delve deep into the issue, you will see that drones have
many plausible uses that will help corporations, consumers, governments, and the environment alike. One of those uses for unmanned aerial vehichles (UAV's) involves simplifying and automating the logistics process.

Imagine using a drone to take inventory of an incoming shipment or warehouse stock. In minutes, it can sort through the entire task and create a comprehensive, detailed, and extremely accurate database of what products there are and where they are located. Even better, think of a warehouse with millions of items and you specifically need to find one – a needle in a haystack. You could deploy a UAV to fly through the entire warehouse (possibly automatic using advanced flight paths) and scan every barcode until the specific one you are looking for is located. The possibilities are endless in the use of drones to improve your logistics: from supply chain to order processing, they can reduce expenses, improve business-customer relations, and have a dramatic effect on your business' day-to-day operations.

This idea is not as futuristic as one may think. The laws and regulations that may cause problems for the drone-delivery industry does not affect the logistics one, as you can use drones over private property without special government permissions. That means your business can begin to benefit from the use of drones in a logistical standpoint immediately. Major companies like Amazon have already begun improving their incoming shipments, inventories, and other aspects of their supply chain by the use of logistic drones.

In addition, such a tool is not only reserved to billion dollar corporations. Small and medium-sized businesses across the country can find uses in the technology that's publically available for an affordable price today. Franchisees can use them to do thorough inspections of franchise stores while delivery companies can use them to sort and categorize packages and letters. Even a small automobile shop can use them to do a quick but detailed inspection of a car they're working on in order to limit liabilities and help customers.

The business-sector is moving towards the use of drones in every aspect, and we can expect this effort to continue and grow more advanced in the coming years. The benefits of drones are seen in every aspect of our daily lives: from the food we eat to the material goods we buy and even the air we breathe. Your business would greatly benefit from drones immediately, allowing you to make a small investment that will pay dividends in no time.

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Environmental Benefits From Drones

One of the least-discussed topics in the world of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles is the impact that they have on the environment. With every plausible use for drones in the commercial field comes some distinct environmental advantage that will undoubtedly help reduce carbon emissions as well as protecting wildlife. The list below has some of the more widely-known uses for commercial drones and how their use will help protect the environment.

  • Drone Delivery
    • One of the most-anticipated features that companies have been working on ahead of FAA regulations legalizing the use of drones for commercial purposes is the "Drone Delivery." How will it help protect the environment? Think about the fact that UPS and FedEx alone deliver 6.5 billion packages per year. That doesn't count the United States Postal Service, who also deliver millions of packages a day, not including normal mail and letters that they deliver on a daily basis. Obviously drones won't even put a dent in that number, but even if they could account for a small percentage of packages in the future, the environmental impact is enormous. Less airplane and truck deliveries will mean less pollution that jet engines and diesel trucks are well-known for emitting. That will also result in less traffic and congestion in American cities.
  • Maritime Inspections
    • Oil companies like BP and Shell currently employ airplanes to scout the sea to measure what type of marine life is in which location and how many there are. Imagine if electronic drones replaced the thousands of hours of jet fuel that these planes use on a daily basis around the world. The process will also save such businesses money, allowing prices to drop for consumers and excess money to be invested in cleaner energy.
  • Agricultural
    • I discussed the use of agricultural drones in a previous article. One of the uses was the ability to do a fly-by to gauge which crops need water and which don't. This helps the environment in two ways. The first is similar to the two above – many currently use airplanes to do the flybys. Second is the fact that the smaller farmers who don't use the sky at all end up spending millions of gallons of unnecessary water in order to ensure that all of their crops have the sufficient amount, even if it means overwatering others. With the use of drones, they can now save money and water (which also saves money!) and more importantly, protects the environment.
  • Rainforest Preservation
    • Ecologists are now using drones to help with rainforests and other natural habitats, especially in third-world countries. They help dissuade poachers who might think twice about their actions with cameras flying above them. They can also help scout regions that are difficult to reach, and would be extremely dangerous (not to mention time consuming) to do it by foot. Drones help scientists of every kind by easily learning which areas they should devote time and resources to.

The use of drones to help the environment is only just getting started – as with the rest of the industry. Universities and research facilities across the world have become extremely interested in the potential that the technology grows. I imagine in five or ten years, drones will account for a large percentage of the environmental benefits we can make to the world in terms of where we are today. The more people become interested in its uses, the more benefits society will continue to see.

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10 Amazing Photos Captured By Drones

If you currently don't own or rent a drone, you will be hooked once you see some of the pictures below. They are some of the most surreal shots taken by UAV's equipped with cameras from the sky. Most of these pictures were taken by amateur hobbyists, meaning that you can also take some amazing footage and even get some worldwide recognition for it!

#10 – Windor Ruins; Mississippi (US)
Credit: user lioon/dronestagram

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DroneFest - Show Off Your Work

It's about time! The Business Design Centre of London will be hosting a Drone Festival, known as DroneFest, on January 27th, 2016.

This is your opportunity to get recognized for your drone skills in front of an international audience, including major companies that are looking to pay for high-quality talent. Whether you shoot videos or still photos, and whether you use a $400 or a $2,000 drone, anyone who captures amazing views from a bird-eye can submit their work and have a chance to be showcased to thousands of industry leaders.

There are multiple categories for video and still-pictures, and everyone from amateur beginners to industry professionals can be recognized. Maybe you captured an amazing shot of a natural park, or just a spectacular photo of people during an event. There are categories for anybody who dedicates their time to getting amazing shots of virtually anything.

Submissions have to be made by the 13th of December, and within a week you will know if you are on a shortlist to get your video or photos showcased at the festival. That also gives you ample time to decide whether it's worth getting a ticket to the event. There are many major companies in the UAV industry that will be there as sponsors, allowing you to meet like-minded people, share and receive tips, and even get highly sought-after connections that you could use to further advance your career.

Even though the event is being hosted in the United Kingdom, many people from all over the world, including the U.S. and Asia will be participating in the festival. Even if you have no plans to attend, submit your videos & photos and you can get your drone skills showcased to the entire world, as candidates for the top prizes have their pictures and video posted on social media. If you are on the shortlist for an award, you may even decide to attend the event yourself (who would want to miss winning an award on a worldwide stage).

There is no doubt that the drone industry has been taking off, and while this may be the 1st Annual DroneFest, there will be many more come. Whether you want to turn your hobby into a profession or if you just want to join other enthusiasts, there is a place for everyone at DroneFest. Along with some of the top footage available in the world, you will also find information on new drone prototypes as well as advances in the hardware and software technology that you may not even know exists. Everyone in the drone industry will be in London in January, meaning you want to find a way to get there!


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Obstacles To Drone Deliveries

In the past, I've covered Wal-Mart's desire to start drone deliveries as early as 2016. Meanwhile, Google has recently said that they are looking to get started in 2017. While those dates might or might not be realistic, sooner or later it's going to happen. There are a few obstacles in the way that might make us lean more towards "later" rather than sooner.

What exactly is preventing it from happening as soon as possible?

  • One of the biggest questions that companies are trying to answer, more than the viability of such deliveries, is whether there is any actual demand. 

    A large company I worked for in the past had a huge server outage that killed internet connectivity for the entire building. The closest store that might sell something as powerful as was needed was over an hour away, and there was no guarantee they would have it. The company had to order the equipment online and wait two days for it to arrive (the fastest it could get there!). Hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue were lost due to the outage, not to mention thousands more to pay for the hundreds of full-time employees at the company. 

    But is it worth it for companies like Google to spend millions, if not billions, to make the possibility of drone deliveries become a reality if only a fringe market exists for it? I can't think of many situations as a consumer that I would want something immediately that I couldn't wait a day or two for. Considering companies often charge double if not triple for 1-day delivery, how much more will deliveries by drone cost and is it worth it? These are legitimate questions that will be tough to answer without it being tried on consumers first.

  • FAA regulation is obviously the most important hurdle to cross. Sometime in 2016 (most likely by the end of summer) the Unmanned Aircraft Systems Registration Task Force will announce how it will regulate the airspace for drones. Considering many helicopters and plane pilots have complained of drones getting too close, it's a dangerous subject with dire consequences if it goes wrong. Either way, it is expected that the FAA regulation will allow for some sort of ability for companies like Amazon, Wal-Mart, and Google to bring their ambitions to life. Who, When, and Where they are allowed to use such technology is a much different story.

  • Have you flown a drone recently? How long did it take for the battery to die/get to warning levels before you had to bring it down? Even billion-dollar companies are struggling for the technology to get much longer flight time than the 20 or 25 minutes we already get. Especially with the weight of a package, this might be the biggest hurdle of them all. It is possible at first that only locations within 30-minutes or so (drone time) of the package facility will be eligible for drone delivery.
    • When thinking about possible solutions to this problem, I can think of a couple of ideas. First of all, have a bigger drone that may fly slower, but can carry more weight, use multiple batteries. Having three or four in there will allow it to get much further.
    • Solar-powered batteries would be ideal. It would mean the deliveries would have to wait until daylight, but the drone will be able to power itself only using heat. In addition, it will allow the ability for a traditional battery in case of an emergency. The challenge to this is making solar technology small and light enough that it can fly across the country.

  • Airspace restrictions provide a huge geographical disadvantage to those in big cities with a small geographical size (such as New York City, San Francisco, and Boston). You are not allowed to fly within 5 miles of an airport, and many drone manufacturers such as DJI have put built-in recognition features that won't allow one to fly it near such airports. While commercial regulations may be different than consumer ones, I can't see many scenarios in which they will be allowed to fly within airport range. That leaves a big amount of the country's population out of drone delivery plans.

It is undoubtedly tough to envision a world in which drone deliveries are popular until we see an increase in drone technology. As great as it is now, there is a lot of work to be done before you get your new video game or iPhone delivered by a drone. One of the suggestions I can think of is to do a trial in a city with a large population that doesn't have an airport nearby. One of these companies can put a distribution warehouse in the heart of their delivery radius and see if there is consumer and commercial demand. That way, battery life won't be an issue and neither will airport regulations. By clearing those hurdles, outside of the FAA, the main one left is the first one: who will actually pay a premium cost for same-business-day delivery.


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Why Your Farm Needs Drones

When most farm owners and workers think of what can help increase productivity, the use of drone technology doesn't come into mind for most of them. As they look at the vast possible uses for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles at crop farms, they'll instantly see they will get an immense return on investment in virtually no time.

  • Save Time

From the start, they can help save time surveying a vast amount of crops, something that would generally be done on foot or with an airplane. Time wasted is time you could be spending working on something else, or just quality time with your family. Either way, there's not enough time in a lifetime, so saving some is always a welcome benefit.

  • Healthier Crops

One of the main benefits from drone technology for agriculture is the ability to have the healthiest crops possible. Along with a drone flyover, certain technology allows the camera to view a color contrast of your crops, telling you exactly which area is not getting enough sunlight and which area is. In addition, it is much easier to catch developing problems from the sky than it is on the ground, which is why major crop farms use airplane flyovers. Drone technology is much easier, cheaper, and more convenient for you and your farm.

  • More Time + Better Crops = Higher Revenue

Saving time and getting better crops undoubtedly means more revenue for you. You will have more time to expand your business and you will get a higher crop yield per acre. That means more money in your pockets. Even with the money spent on hiring someone or doing it yourself, you will be getting your money back within a week in terms of a better yield! The American Farm Bureau already came out with estimates, saying farms could make up to $12 per acre extra with the technology, depending on the crop.

  • Crops Are Needed Worldwide

With the global population growing and growing, there is a huge need for crops across the world. With the ability to grow and treat them quicker than ever before, it allows global production to go up.

From the start, they can help save time surveying a vast amount of crops, something that would generally be done on foot or with an airplane. In addition, with specialized farming software available today, you'll be able to tell the exact health of your crops, including its heat range, whether it's getting enough sun and water, among other problems that you just can't tell on the ground-level.

While some farmers will be quick to point out that if everyone started getting a better and faster yield, leading to an increase in production, it will undoubtedly lead to prices going down more than they already are, as it will be cheaper to produce. That may be true, but drone and agricultural experts around the world expect it to happen regardless. That is exactly why you need to start using such technology immediately, as you will be ahead of the curve. If you wait, you will undoubtedly be left behind.

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