“Drones for Good.”
“What does that mean?” asked Tom Wasinski, Founder/CEO of Aerial Agents, when he opened up his presentation at the NEO STREAM Educators Day Conference.
Northeast Ohio teachers and educators gathered to learn about topics having to do with science, technology, and more. These forward-thinking individuals were interested in emerging trends - trends that might spark the imaginations of our youth - their students. Trends that could create future positions and work opportunities, including some that have yet to be conceived!
NEO STREAM Conference 2017, March 16-18
Hosted by Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge, in collaboration with Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C), the Northeast Ohio Science, Technology, Recreation, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics Conference (NEO STREAM) consisted of three information-filled days with the following goal: to increase awareness, education, and utilization of STREAM fields in Ohio.
Aerial Agents was a part of DAY ONE: Educators Day, which was a day where “teachers and administrators participate in dynamic professional development workshops, and hands-on STREAM activities, led by the nation’s foremost corporations, federal agencies, and educational organizations in STREAM.”
As a workshop leader, Aerial Agents, a pioneer and leader in drone photography/video services, provided attendees with an introduction to the many benefits of drone usage. Our program presented numerous examples of current areas where drones are already employed. We gave the educators resources for further instruction, and information they could use to introduce their students to the idea of working with drones. With the idea of positioning our region "as a leader in STREAM by increasing awareness to these fields," this inaugural program served to expose STREAM subjects to students, while building partnerships "to expand opportunity in Northeast Ohio," wrote Congresswoman Fudge.
This conference was the perfect opportunity for teachers and other participants throughout our region to explore emerging technologies and other new ideas, that they can now present to members of our future workforce. Alex Johnson, President of Cuyahoga Community College, stated that this conference will help “to develop the next generation of scholars for careers as scientists, mathematicians, recording arts engineering technicians, computer scientists, welders, and nurses.”
DRONES FOR GOOD
Aerial Agents was extremely pleased to be invited to present, "Drones for Good," to help our educators understand what the future may hold for drone usage. Our program included a brief overview of some basics – (a) a definition of what drones are (an aircraft without an onboard human pilot, controlled either autonomously or by remote control); (b) what grades they come in (Toy, Hobby and Professional); and (c) some key terms for drones (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle or UAV, Unmanned Aircraft System or UAS and others). We brought in a few examples (Quadcopter, Hexacopter and more); and introduced some fundamental flying terms. A detailed glossary was distributed, and Tom told the Aerial Agents story, how we got started, where we've worked, and some of the projects we've flown over.
DRONES - Multiple Applications
The list of applications is long; drones can be used so much "good," including thermal imaging, search & rescue, disaster recovery/emergency services, surveying, mapping, planning, architecture, insurance purposes, engineering, security, media & communications, agriculture, aquaculture, business, commerce, marketing, bidding for jobs, environmental management, entertainment, and much, much more.
DRONES – Multiple Industries
Aerial Agents has worked in ALL of these industries and more: Real Estate, Commercial Property, Architecture, Development, Home Building, Construction, Demolition, Scrap/Recycling, Golf, Hospitality, Live Events, Sports, Cities/Towns/Government, Farms, Legal/Insurance, DOT, News, TV/Film, Transportation (Bridges, Tunnels, Roadways, Railways)... the list goes on and on!
DRONES – Following the Rules - About FAA Regulations
We also shared with the educators some of the FAA Regulations commercial drone pilots must abide by. First, pilots must have passed their FAA exam and earned their part 107 approval for flying commercially. Each pilot must strictly adhere to many rules, including: (a) Line of Sight (craft must be in line of sight by pilot or crew); (b) must fly below 400'; (c) must fly in Class G airspace; (d) must fly during daylight; (e) speed must be below 100 mph; (f) UAV must yield right of way to aircraft; (g) drone can not be flown over people; and (h) drone may not be flown from a moving vehicle.
There are special waivers that you can apply for to get approval to fly in conditions described above under certain circumstances; for example, you can apply for a waiver to fly at night, as long as you indicate on your application that you'll provide proper notification, that you'll add a beacon to the drone for maximum visibility, and that you'll take other measures to mitigate risk. Most waiver requests are granted, provided the plan is well thought out and covers all bases.
We finished the "classroom" segment of our program by showing some of our images and video productions, and then... we were ready to fly!
Let's FLY a Drone!
The highlight of our workshop was going outside for a drone flying demonstration.
In addition to our fleet, the library provided Hobby-grade drones that our participants could try out.
“Let's face it, these things are cool.” Tom Wasinski stated.
Watching lift off was cool!
We brought out the white, DJI Quadcopter for our demonstration, and Tom talked about proper flying technique, control, and how to maneuver in varying conditions, including weather.
It was a bit of a cold, windy day, and Tom was able to show his expertise in handling the drone in these challenging conditions. The results... the perspective of our group from the drone was impressive:
Each participant was then invited to try flying one of the hobby drones. The hobby drones did not have cameras and were lightweight and small. Even so, they were a challenge to fly for our first-time pilot-participants. A couple of participants gave it a go and were able to get them off the ground and in flight.
One landed in some snow and there it stayed, and had to be retrieved by foot.
Knowing some important basics will help anyone when they're exploring drone usage. Battery life, maximum allowable height, maximum airspeed, and having a firm grip on the current weather conditions, are key points to know before you attempt flight.
Back inside, we prepared for our second session with more educators. When we opened up our session for questions we got some thoughtful inquiries, including...
Who is the current leading manufacturer of drones?
DJI, headquartered in China, has about a 70% share of the market for commercial and consumer drones. Their Phantom drones are currently the most popular drones in the world. Tom sees a big opportunity for others to join the playing field.
Which are some of the drones that Aerial Agents flies?
We fly a few, one of which, the DJI Phantom Quadcopter – has 4 propellers and can fly for 30 minutes with a fully charged battery; this UAV can fly up to 4 miles away (although the FAA requires that the drone must remain within line of site of the operator, so it's not advisable to utilize the 4 mile distance feature.) Cost is approximately $1000. At NEO STREAM, we also showcased our Hexacopter. This multi-rotor drone is much larger; it has 6 rotors and if you lose a single motor, you can still maintain enough control to land it. This drone has a flight time of up to 15 minutes, the flight range is 6 miles, and the approximate cost is $6000.
Tell us about other types of drones.
The Octocopter, which has 8 propellers, can fly for about 8 minutes, and is used primarily for the film industry because it can lift up to 30 lbs. (heavier film-grade cameras.) Its approximate cost is $9000. Another type of craft is the Fixed Wing – most have a pilot on board, but some are designed to be remotely or computer-controlled. They have 100 minutes of flight time and can fly up to 13,000 feet. The cost for those is approximately $3000.
How does one get FAA Certification, and what are the costs associated with getting a license?
The current cost for certification is $150, and classes are offered at 3rd party learning centers. The exam covers safety, regulations, battery life, weather, airspace and requirements, operations, and other items. If you fail the exam, you are permitted to retake the test within 2 weeks.
Are there drone repair companies, or does the manufacturer do repairs, and is there a warranty?
At this point, you'd have to contact the manufacturer for drone parts and mostly try to fix it yourself. Tom speculated that the drone repair industry was in its infancy stage... and mentioned that some drones come with a warranty.
Do they have drone insurance similar to automobile insurance?
"Not yet." Tom replied.
DRONES in Our Future... Drones for Good
We see more and more uses for drones, and a future with increased quantities of drones in our skies. Many of our students, as members of tomorrow's workforce, may utilize drones in their jobs.
As one teacher put it, "We're teaching them skills for jobs that aren't even there yet."
"Yes!" exclaimed another educator, "We can teach them skills for any type of job that might come along in the 21st Century!"
About Aerial Agents
Aerial Agents is a Cleveland, Ohio-based, FAA Approved, commercial drone aerial photography & videography media production company. In the birthplace of aviation, Aerial Agents is established as the foremost experienced, professional, and licensed expert in UAS (unmanned aerial systems) or "drone" piloting. Drone aerial imagery has multiple applications in a wide variety of areas including sales, marketing, education, entertainment, real estate, travel, hospitality, building, development, architecture, information, instruction, insurance, news, TV/Film and even court cases.