A look at DJI's Mavic Pro
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A look at DJI's Mavic Pro
You've seen them around – these strange, small, flying apparatuses – and you know what they are... “drones” to us lay people, UAS (unmanned aerial systems) to the pros. And maybe you've thought to yourself, “Cool, I'd like an aerial photo of ____.” So how do you go about hiring a drone photography company, and what do you need to look out for before you do?
To ensure a safe flight, we've put together the top 3 things to avoid when hiring a drone photography company:
Be sure that the company you're considering to hire to capture your aerial images has its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorization in place; recently the granting of the FAA Section 333 authorization for the commercial use of drones has been replaced with the part 107 Unmanned Aircraft Rule. The Section 333 is still good (it's a 2 year authorization) but soon it will be completely replaced by the part 107. With either authorization, FAA requirements must be followed strictly – there are operational limitations, pilot certification and responsibilities, as well as aircraft requirements. Just one example is flight height: experienced professionals understand the risk of irresponsible operation and would not fly a drone higher than the FAA recommended maximum height. You want to make sure that the company you're using practices safe flying and has all of its credentials in place. A professional, reputable aerial imaging company will willingly share with you exactly what authorizations it has been granted. If you don't see this information, ask for it.
Make sure you do your homework when seeking aerial imagining companies. Look at their previous work and check out whom they've worked with; learn what you can about them – who they are and what their reputation is. Look them up on Google, Facebook, and read their reviews, not just the testimonials on their website; many sites such as Yelp, for example, may have reviews of the company you're considering. Get references. Your research phase is as important as your subsequent collaboration with the company – you want to trust your creativity to experienced professionals, not the cheapest guy with a drone!
… which brings us to perhaps the most important thing to avoid ...
Drone photography might be a hobby for some; however, your best bet will be to go with the most experienced professional your research yields. Whether you are making a marketing investment in your business with aerial images, or looking to capture a birds-eye view for your event, hire a company that utilizes only trained and experienced UAS pilots who follow strict safety and regulatory guidelines. A bonus: hiring experienced professionals should get you the most current technology, too. Have them tell you what equipment they fly, what they use to capture the images, when the equipment was released, and how long they've used it. Technology is ever-changing, and you'll want your “partner” in your creative process to have the very best at your disposal – from drones, to cameras, to editing software. Experienced professionals will also have any necessary permissions or permits for what you want to capture. They'll give you realistic expectations as to when you'll receive your final product. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the best ones will listen to your ideas, collaborate with you, and offer guidance to bring your ideas to life. Whether you're capturing images of real estate, construction, events, or special locations, how it's captured and then how it's edited is crucial to your outcome – an experienced professional will keep you covered on all fronts.
In the ever-changing technological world we live in today, the use of innovative UAS photography and video aerial perspectives has become invaluable for the marketing of real estate, golf courses, live events, hospitality services, construction projects, and more; it's also now a trending technique in pop culture.
Have some fun with your ideas and explore the possibilities with aerial images. And, by following these things to avoid, you'll come out on top!
Barbara Barclay is the marketing arm of Aerial Agents, 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, information, instruction, insurance, news and even court cases.
By Thomas Wasinski
Aerial photography has long been a friend to the construction, architecture and real estate industries, providing valuable, aesthetically attractive imagery of prospective properties, construction sites and completed building projects alike. Among their typical uses, aerial photos and videos assist in land surveys, development planning and marketing real estate. However, until recently, there were only three options for capturing aerial photography: airplane, helicopter or blimp. That is no longer the case. Today, unmanned aerial systems (i.e., drones) are revolutionizing the discipline and they are quickly becoming the go-to option for any aerial media that might be required.
This is because drones are able to hit the “sweet spot.” Most unmanned aerial systems, especially multi-rotors, are designed for low to mid altitude. That is 400 feet and below, that typically provides an ideal vantage point which is close enough to provide great detail, but elevated enough to capture a physically large area from a unique angle.
The drone business is quickly growing into a billion dollar industry. That is because they can serve so many industries and satisfy needs that have been around for years. For example, about 45,000 annual bridge inspections could be conducted with small drones. Most bridge inspections currently employ hydraulic mobile cranes called “snoopers.” The average cost of an inspection using a snooper is $3,250. Cable bridge inspections are even more expensive because they often require a 200-foot aerial lift. Now the service can be delivered at a fraction of that cost.
They can save lives in other industries. There were more than 95 fatalities from 2004 to 2012 involving climbers working on towers. By using drone technology, that risk can be eliminated entirely by having the drone do all of the elevated monitoring. In other cases, companies are working on a solution to deliver defibrillators to people suffering from cardiac arrest. These are just a few examples of drones’ many applications.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently unveiled new proposed rules regarding the operation of commercial drones, which previously were effectively banned unless the operator carried a special permit requiring a licensed pilot. The new guidelines essentially allow drones to fly legally for commercial purposes if traveling below 500 feet during daylight hours and within the operators’ sight. These rules are largely favorable to companies that want to use small drones for commercial purposes, potentially leading to the widespread flights by unmanned aircraft performing aerial photography, crop monitoring, inspections of cell towers and bridges, and other work.
The Association of Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI), an industry trade association, estimates that small, commercial drones will create 70,000 jobs with an economic impact of more than $13.6 billion in the first three years after their integration into U.S. skies.
Multi-rotors or “drones” can have anywhere from three to 10 propellers on arms that extend from the body of the craft. Each propeller is attached to a small, yet strong motor that produces enough thrust to elevate a craft weighing up to 55 pounds. They are battery powered and can stay in the air for as long as 25 minutes, although larger multi-rotors can only fly for approximately 12 minutes.
Many crafts are equipped with brushless gimbals. Having a brushless gimbal allows aerial video to come out smooth and steady despite vibration of the craft, orientation of the craft, and wind gusts. However, the brains are the most amazing part of the machine. Whether your flight is manual or autonomous, the craft will know where it is at all times. Through the use of GPS, the drone knows where it is and will stay in the same exact spot when left in a hover, waiting for its next command.
These capabilities pair well with the latest advancements in camera technology. For instance, today’s 4k Ultra High-Definition cameras provide footage that is four times the quality of standard 1080 resolution. When all of these different pieces are working together, the results are more than extraordinary.
In summary, the future looks bright for the use of drones to deliver stunning aerial photos and videos for a wide range of uses. In Northeast Ohio and beyond, informed property owners/managers, builders and real estate professionals are beginning to see the value in partnering with a forward-thinking company specializing in these exciting new technologies.
Thomas Wasinski is a life-long RC enthusiast who naturally found a way to incorporate his business with a hobby to deliver a complete solution. He started Aerial Agents with Patrick DeStefanis in 2013, first taking on assignments for industrial recycling, real estate agents, car dealerships and sporting events. The brand has quickly grown and today Aerial Agents consults for a vast array of industries all across the country including construction, hospitality, manufacturing, TV/film and more.
As consumer drones begin to gain momentum and popularity, the 2015 Consumer Electronic Show (CES) was held this week in Las Vegas showcasing some of the new and exciting advances in modern UAV technology. The drones are coming and they range in many different shapes and sizes from heavy-lift, professional-cinematography drones to wrist-wearing, selfie-taking quads. Continue reading to see some of the drones in action at CES 2015.
By: Lance Ulanoff, Mashable
LAS VEGAS — Drones: They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are palm sized, while others would cover your dining room table. They all share some key attributes, like four rotors, an array of sensors and, usually, cameras for shooting the ground below and even the occasional drone selfie.
And at CES 2015, they’re pretty much all caged. Outside the show floor, drones fly freely, but deep in the far reaches of the South Hall’s lower level, they’re clustered together in the sexily-named “Unmanned Systems” zone. If the drones are flying, unless they’re very, very small, they’re behind fully enclosed nets or even glass enclosures.
They’re also attracting quite a crowd. Showgoers clustered around the drone demonstrations. Even when the drones weren’t flying, CES attendees were trying to get close to them. Considering how new the market is, that’s not necessarily surprising, but there is a buzz (pun intended) around this nascent robotics industry. Most of the companies I talked to had entered the consumer drone market in just the last few years.
The Consumer Electronics Association puts the global market for consumer drones at $130 million this year and anticipates a $1 billion drone industry by the end of this decade.
Even though the drone market is quite new, most of the products I saw at CES 2015 looked fairly polished. This is in stark contrast to just a few years ago when every drone I saw looked like it was built from Erector set parts.
The Hubsan FPV X4 Pro in its flying cage.
Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff
Hubsan’s X4 Pro is a good example. It has the clean lines of a Frog Designs product. But looks are deceiving. Hubsan CEO Sam Lee told me his company was originally in the hobbyist helicopter market, but ultimately found they were too hard to build (and too complicated to fly for consumers). His drones, on the other hand, are easier to assemble, but more difficult to design, and, especially program. Hubsan exited the hobbyist helicopter market in 2012 and now sells a full line of drones that range in price from $50 to $300, though pricing for the powerful X4 Pro has not been set.
Hubsan's tiny FPV X4 can fly free
Image: Mashable, LanceUlanoff
All the drones on display can fly, hover and have some kind of remote control, but they also each have their own gimmick or extra bit of technology that sets them apart. In the case of the X4, it’s 4G-capable. Lee told me he can use his phone in China to control an X4 in the U.S, I tried to explain to him that this was not exactly a comforting concept, but Lee, who spoke halting English, didn’t get the joke.
There were also a surprising number of drones that could follow you. Again, this sounds creepy, but actually has some utility.
Trace.com’s Flyr1, for example, can follow any standardized pattern. First you train it on one pattern, maybe a logo on the back of your shirt, then set the angle of flight and how far away from you want it to fly from you and then it can track you and stream video of your activities to your mobile device for 35-to-40 minutes of battery life.
Trace Flyr1 uses a special vision system to track patterns.
Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff
Company spokesperson Josh Stanbury told me the drone was invented, in part, by Paul Beard (father of, among other things, the DVR) and that it could be useful for athletes who are training. He also thinks that this purpose sets Flyr1 apart from the rest of the Drones at CES.
“A lot of drones here are for people who just want to fly them. We’re here for people who want to create content,” said Stanbury.
It’s a subtle knock on the enthusiast craze that’s driving the creation of all these new drones and companies. People talk all the time about wanting drones, but what, exactly, will they do with them?
Even when they do get them, many consumers can’t seem to find something constructive to do with their drones. There are regular reports of people flying their drones too close to buildings, monuments and, especially, airports.
Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff
I asked Hubsan’s Lee about this concern. His drones are designed to not stray too far from the controller devices – they stay within a 45 kilometer circle, which is actually quite far. However, Lee assured me that his drones would use their GPS to recognize that an airport is approaching and automatically slow down and even land before they get into the wrong airspace.
When I asked if he was concerned about additional FAA regulations shutting him down, he sidestepped and said that “This product, we delayed for one year because of a safety issue.” In other words, he considered public safety a priority.
Airdog drone follows its leader's wrist.
Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff
Following their owners is a bit of a drone trend. Like Trace, Airdog, which just exited Kickstarter and will go on sale in the second quarter for $1,300, can follow you. However, instead of using pattern recognition, Airdog, which can fold up and fit in your backpack, uses a special wristband to track your location and position. Wherever that wristband is, it will follow and capture HD video of your activities.
Torquing Group's Zano drone can operate in swarms and help you take drone selfies.
Image: Lance Ulanoff
The tiny Zano drone ($270) from Torquing Group takes following a bit further. It can lock in on you, hold still in mid-air and take a selfie. They promote it as the drone that’s “Taking selfies to new heights.”
“It’s really just a tag line,” said Torquing Marketing Director Reece Crowther. In fact, Zano is one of the more intelligent drones on display and has a hardcore military background.
Torquing actually started as a military technology company in Australia and then the UK. Nearly two years ago, they decided to take all that knowledge and apply it to consumer drones.
Zano includes GPS, sonar, infrared and barometric sensors. In addition to autonomous flight, Zano drones can fly in a swarm, meaning that multiple Zano can be controlled via one device and work together.
Like Trace.com’s Stanbury, Crowther is somewhat dismissive of the hobbyist movement.
“What sets us apart [from the other drones] is that they’re hobbyist and enthusiast drones. Zano is for everyman (and woman).”
Ehang Ghost Drone
Image: Mashable, Lance Ulanoff
Not every Drone has a built-in camera. Ehang’s sleek-looking Ghost drones sells for $375 or $599 with the optional gimbal that holds a, naturally, GoPro camera. It’s a mid-sized drone that uses an iOS app for control. Similar to Parrot’s Bebop Drone (also exhibiting), it has one-button lift-off. You simply select a destination on the map and either set a route or let Ghost, which has a range of 1,000 meters, make its way there.
As I looked at all the drones flying in their cages, I thought of a zoo. These autonomous vehicles are like those exotic species we ogle though glass, behind heavy bars and across protective moats. They’re powerful, sleek and still a bit unknowable.
Read more great articles from CES 2015 at http://mashable.com