UAV stands for ,”Unmanned Aerial Vehicle” which are mostly used by the military and law enforcement. The UAV is a remotely piloted aircraft’s (RPA), also refereed to as Drones, that can be remotely piloted from anywhere in the world. In the present day these machines are being used for many other uses outside the scope of their original purpose for military operations. They’ve become mainstream products and currently has various drone laws governing commercial and personal use in many countries.
The FAA says that it requires about 20 hours of study to pass the Part 107 test. By all reports, the test is not an easy one – but those willing to put in the time can certainly be successful. DRONELIFE published a list of study guides and courses earlier – but with these and so many new offerings to choose from, how do you know which is best for you? Here’s our guide to finding the right resource.
#1. Shop By Price.
Prices for study guides and materials range from free to hundreds or even thousands of dollars. If price is an issue, don’t worry: the government is giving the test, and the government has provided a lot of resources and information to make people successful. In addition, there are a number of community members who have taken the material from the FAA’s Pilot’s Handbook – the ultimate resource – and broken it down into manageable sections. There are podcasts to lay out the framework for you, and chapter by chapter resources; but you’ll have to be prepared to read, read, and read some more. See our article referenced above for links to the FAA’s study material and several free courses. If you prefer a video format, check out YouTube and search Part 107 for several video based courses, including this one by World Drone Academy.
#2. Get Peer Reviews
At this point, thousands of people have taken – and passed – the Part 107 test. And one of the great things about the drone community is their willingness to help each other out. Before investing a lot of time or money in test prep, you may want to ask your peers what has worked for them. Especially useful is a Part 107 Study Group on Facebook that has almost 1000 members; a little time on Twitter will help you too. Other industry groups also provide forums. Make sure that others have used the course and passed the test before you begin.
#3. What is it you need to learn?
If you’ve been flying a drone for years now, you can probably get by with studying using the FAA resources or one of the free study guides. But if you need someone to help you learn more about your drone as well as prepare for the test, you’ll probably need to pay for a course. You can check out some of the choices on our previous list, or check out established drone training companies like DARTdrones, who offer a Part 107 prep course in addition to their drone training programs. Some colleges and universities offer courses in drone training too – check out this list of the top 15 programs.
Already a pilot? You’re in luck. Much of the material on the Part 107 test is about knowing the rules of the airspace, not about flying a drone. If your pilot’s license is current, you can take the shorter online test and use the FAA’s study guide; if it isn’t current, you’ll have to brush up on your knowledge and take the Part 107.
#4. How much time do you have?
You can’t skimp too much on test prep – one thing most test participants agree upon is that the Part 107 test is harder than they anticipated, and includes a lot of material. However, if you’re a crammer you might want to stick with the reading material from attorney’s Sarah Nilsson or Jonathan Rupprecht – lessons that you can absorb at your own pace. If you like to spread things out, you can go with a paid video course or a training class broken out into smaller segments; pay attention to how many “chapters” the class offers.
Remember, over 80% of participants have passed the test! Qualified drone operators are good for the industry – check out a study guide and get started.
After plenty of leaks and mounting speculation, DJI has launched a new portable drone for the enthusiast market: the Mavic Pro. Although rivals Yuneec and GoPro have beaten DJI to the release of new models in recent weeks, it looks like the drone industry’s dominant manufacturer is yet again set to lead the way in aerial photography.
The DJI Mavic Pro – Everything you need to know
First of all, let’s quickly go through the what and the how. DJI’s Mavic Pro is the company’s attempt at dominating the emerging market of mid-tier drones for photography enthusiasts that want an easy way to capture their most exciting moments. From skiing down a mountain to climbing up one, many extreme sports fans want their own personal eye in the sky to record the event from every possible angle.
DJI’s offering to this growing group of drone users is the Mavic Pro, and this is why, if you happen to be in that group, you’re going to want one. First of all, the Mavic Pro is foldable. Its four folding arms and propellers tuck into its body, so it can be easily carried in a backpack. The whole point is that it’s not supposed to take much effort, so it can be completely controlled from a smartphone, and set up and flying in less than a minute after calibration.
Second, DJI has managed to pack in some powerful features into its foldable drone. The new Intelligent Flight Battery offers a highly respectable 27 minutes of flight time, a three-axis gimbal gives super-steady photos and videos, and the Mavic Pro has a huge 4.3-mile range with 4K video recording and streaming to social media through the DJI Go app.
Crucially, the Mavic Pro comes with an advanced obstacle avoidance system similar to that of the flagship Phantom 4. DJI’s continued commitment to obstacle avoidance comes in the shape of what the company calls its ‘FlightAutonomy guidance system’, which combines “dual-band satellite navigation, sensors, ultrasonic range finders, five vision-positioning cameras and deep learning processors for intelligent flying modes.”
DJI has spent a decade making it easier for anyone to fly, and by rethinking everything about how a drone looks, we have created an entirely new type of aerial platform for anyone to explore their creativity. Mavic Pro is a technological triumph filled with features that once again show how DJI leads the industry. Most importantly, Mavic Pro allows you to reach the skies easily, see the world with new eyes and tell your stories like never before.” – Frank Wang, DJI’s CEO and founder.
As well as being flexible in terms of transportation, the Mavic Pro is also highly flexible in terms of how you want to use it. Extreme sports fans will love the 4K video and 30 fps and full 1080p HD at 96 fps, with a minimum focusing distance of just 19 inches. Its 12-megapixel camera can even be flipped 90 degrees to create a new portrait mode to shoot vertical photos and videos.
The Mavic Pro comes with an updated version of DJI’s ActiveTrack technology, which means that pilots can put the controller down and concentrate on looking awesome. The Mavic Pro has been programmed to recognize common subjects, such as people, bicyclists, cars, boats and animals. The drone can then follow behind, lead in front, track alongside or circle the subject.
The DJI Mavic Pro also comes with a built-in Terrain Follow feature, allowing it to race up a slope behind a subject while remaining at a constant height above the ground. Clever.
For the drone flying purists out there, the Mavic Pro can be switched to Sport Mode and flown with the controller. You can reach speeds of up to 40 mph, with increased agility and responsiveness for an almost racing-like experience. Used in conjunction with DJI’s new FPV goggles, this promises to be a lot of fun. At the other extreme, a new mode called ‘Tripod’ lowers the Mavic Pro’s maximum speed to a max of 2.2 mph, giving pilots precision positioning for photography, while also making flying indoors or confined areas a whole lot easier.
Perhaps the features that separate this from other sports drones we have seen relate to safety in flight. Five sensor cameras form a collision avoidance system to help prevent forward-facing collisions in flight, while downward-facing sensors and barometric readings detect rising slopes and the ground beneath the drone, automatically keeping it from flying too low. Other safety systems include a return to launch location function, which kicks in if the drone loses contact with the controller or reaches a low battery level. If the pilot lets go of the controls for any reason, the Mavic Pro will hover in place until it receives further instructions.
DJI say that the new drone is stable in winds of up to 24 mph, while the company’s Geofencing technology identifies restricted areas and allows pilots to make better decisions about where and when to fly.
How much will the DJI Mavic Pro cost?
The retail price for the Mavic Pro is set at $749 – if you want it with an RC you’ll have to pay $999. Extra batteries cost $89 each. A special ‘Fly More Combo’, which includes a Mavic Pro, an RC, two extra Intelligent Flight Batteries, extra propellers, a charging hub, an adapter, a car charger and a shoulder bag, will be available for $1,299.
The DJI Mavic Pro is available for pre-order right now on the DJI website, and shipping is due to start halfway through October. DJI’s relationship with Apple is also set to continue, and the Mavic Pro will be available in Apple Stores in early November.
Journalist Kara Swisher of Recode interviewed Uber’s head of products, Jeff Holden, who said that the company was actively researching short-distance flight technology for use in urban areas. The vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) technology is a hovering aircraft that can takeoff and land vertically, necessary for applications in or near populous areas. Helicopters – which Uber has used before – have VTOL technology, but Uber is looking at vehicles that look a lot more like drones – complete with multi-rotors.
Holden predicted during the interview that VTOL technology could be used in the next 10 years. While the current regulatory environment would seem to make that unlikely, the technology doesn’t seem that far off. The idea of “autonomous aerial vehicles” or passenger drones isn’t new; Ehang introduced it’s prototype in January of this year – although the company has admitted that they don’t have a real drone at this point – and the military is also heavily invested in research for passenger drones.
Even the regulations may come together sooner than you think. The FAA’s efforts toward “integration” of commercial drones means developing a system that allows drones to fly and communicate with other aircraft; and while integration is a broad concept and a vast project, when completed to allow flight over people and around buildings, the applications for commercial drones may be almost limitless.
Uber is at the leading edge of new vehicle technology, as demonstrated by their recent introduction of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, and the company has lofty aspirations: Holden told Swisher that Uber’s goal was to eliminate private car ownership. Passenger drones have the potential to do more than that – eliminating the urban traffic jam could be one of the greatest accomplishments of technology yet.
YI Technology, a Chinese company with a track record in the design and manufacture of action cameras, is looking to expand their brand and better serve their customers with the launch of a drone that promises to be very fast and have a better than average flight time.
Like GoPro, YI Technology is entering the drone space with an action camera pedigree, However, they hope to avoid GoPro’s rocky take off. The GoPro Karma is now on the market; but it wasn’t easy. YI is looking for a smoother take off. They have partnered with Atlas Dynamics which was founded by a team with extensive experience in aerospace engineering.
DRONELIFE spoke with Ye Song, co-founder of YI Technology and Omri Cherni, one of the fo-founders of Atlas Dynamics about their partnership and efforts to bring the Erida drone to market.
Both emphasized that the partnership plays to their respective strengths. Atlas Dynamics has aerospace expertise and YI Technology has a proven ability to bring technology products to market. YI knows mass manufacturing and how to develop sales channels and distribution. The value of that mass manufacturing experience cannot be underestimated. Numerous startups with solid technology have found manufacturing to be a stumbling block.
Ms. Song said that partnering with best of breed firms was not new to YI. When developing their product line of cameras they went to Japan because that is where the expertise in optics was. The Erida drone will marry those camera optics in a 4K 30FPS action camera with Atlas Dynamics drone.
The Erida, like the recently released Karma from GoPro, has a quality camera, collapsible arms and custom backpack for easy portability, and claims to be exceptionally easy to use. Both firms are looking to that ease of use to leverage their products to a broader base of customers without letting go of their core market, the outdoor recreational enthusiast. They also have something else in common. Neither integrate sense and avoid technology. (But as our guest contributor Colin Snow noted recently, that is no easy feat.)
What makes the Erida special? Two things: it is amazingly fast with a speed up to 75mph and has an exceptional flight time – up to 40 minutes. These features stem from two unique engineering factors. The drone is composed of carbon fiber so it is light and strong. Second, it is a tricopter not a quadcopter. This also reduces the drone’s overall mass and Mr. Cherni maintains the design delivers better performance. The drone is also controlled by a smart phone app instead of a stand alone controller. This too was identified by Mr. Charni as an important step in improved ease of use. He believes their GUI will be one of the best out there.
But the Erida is not out there yet. Pricing and availability are to be announced at a future time. While the camera and gimbal are detachable from the drone, there is no stick or grip accessory for the camera as the Karma has. However, what the Erida may lack in flexibility it may make up for in speed and overall performance.
One can hope that the product will be available in time for the holiday season and at a price point that will make it competitive.
Remember the days when Lego was all the entertainment you had – When building things with the combined power of your imagination and plastic bricks was a legitimate way to spend a weekend? Well, it looks like that old childhood favorite is about to make a comeback. But this time, of course, your Lego will be drone-powered.
San Francisco startup Flybrix has developed a range of products that provide the perfect solution to all that unwanted Lego you have gathering dust in the attic. With the company’s DIY kits, you can build your own custom drone out of Lego bricks.
Read more: Five Reasons to Buy Your Kid a Drone
Every Flybrix kit comes with everything you need to get your own Lego drone off the ground. You can put together a quad, hex, or octo rotor, using the included bricks, motors, propellers, pre-programmed Arduino-compatible processor on an expandable PCB, and even your very own Lego pilot.
Flybrix comes from three business partners, Amir Hirsch, Robb Walters, and Holly Kasun. Amir studied math and CS at MIT and used to write code for nuclear power plants, Robb has a PhD in applied physics, and Holly, the brains of the organization, has previously worked with top global brands like Nike, adidas and Nokia. We’re excited to see what their combined brainpower can come up with in the future.
Flybrix seems like a great way to get kids into DIY and flying, but that doesn’t mean that more experienced pilots won’t enjoy the products too. If putting together your own Lego drone sounds like fun, Flybrix is currently offering two DIY kits. The standard kit costs $149, and the deluxe costs $189 and includes an RC controller. The basic kit relies on you having a smart phone to pilot the drone through an app available on both iOS and Android. Both are operated through a Bluetooth connection.
Lego has always been pretty sturdy, so when you inevitably crash it into the wall there’s a good chance it won’t smash into tiny pieces. If it does, you’ll just have to rebuild it better and stronger, with more Lego.
Package delivery giant UPS announced today that it is testing drone delivery to remote locations with MA drone maker CyPhy Works.
Thursday, the companies “staged a mock delivery of urgently needed medicine from Beverly, Mass. to Children’s Island, which is about three miles off the Atlantic coast,” UPS and CyPhy Works announced in a statement. The UPS Strategic Enterprise Fund has invested in CyPhy Works to explore the potential for drones.
“Our focus is on real-world applications that benefit our customers,” said Mark Wallace, UPS senior vice president of global engineering and sustainability. “We think drones offer a great solution to deliver to hard-to-reach locations in urgent situations where other modes of transportation are not readily available.”
“We’re thrilled to partner with UPS in this endeavor,” said Helen Greiner, CyPhy’s founder and chief technology officer. “Drone technology used in this way can save lives and deliver products and services to places that are difficult to reach by traditional transit infrastructures.”
CyPhy’s drone is named the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications (PARC) system. The autonomous drone is battery-powered and requires minimal user training. It is built to be extremely durable and offers night vision a secure communications system.
“UPS and CyPhy flew the PARC from Beverly to Children’s Island to test the viability of using the drone to make a time-critical delivery,” says the announcement. “In the mock scenario, the drone successfully carried an asthma inhaler to a child at a camp on the island, which is not reachable by automobile.”
“UPS has a history of innovation that reaches back more than a hundred years,” Wallace said. “UPS uniformed employees remain a vital connection to our customers, but tests like these reveal a bridge to the future of customer service and urgent package delivery. We are continuously exploring ways to improve our network to efficiently support our customers’ demanding requirements.”
The International Drone Expo Trade show and conference taking place in Los Angeles on December 9-10 looks to bring people together who work in the UAS industry: manufacturers, commercial users, enthusiasts, as well as those who have an active interest in it to be educated, have some fun and do business.
In its third year, the show has steadily grown and draws an international crowd. Initially a collaboration between the Tesla Foundation, UAVSA, and E.J. Krause & Associates, the show is now produced solely by the Krause organization though UAVSA and Tesla remain associated with the event.
The show will feature sessions and companies covering a wide spectrum of drone topics and their application to industries including entertainment, agriculture, search and rescue, real estate and architecture. Speakers and panelists such as Tom McKinnon, CEO of Agribotix, Gareth Keane, Qualcomm Ventures, and Maria Stephanopoulos, Producer, ABC News, Good Morning America represent the range of expertise that will be present.
The show will also feature:
- a pitchfest in which a select group of start ups will be presenting their drone concepts.
- a Video Showcase that will screen the best in drone videography submitted by individuals and companies. Enthusiasts interested in submitting their work can do so here.
- the IDE Drone Racing Cup, a race sanctioned by MultiGP, a drone racing league with chapters throughout the world
- a session on women and drones chaired by the Drone Girl, Sally French who writes for the Wall Street Journal and MarketWatch among other publications
In speaking with DRONELIFE, Michael Rosenberg, Senior VP at Krause, said the industry is growing at a rapid rate. “The U.S. started a little behind the curve but it is quickly catching up. We need to give credit to FAA. Through Part 107 and recent updates they have accelerated the process, enabling companies to quickly adopt drone technology. They realize there is a real business need and interest in using drone technology for a large variety of business applications. Our show will assist businesses looking to enter the space covering crowd sourcing, dealing with the media, funding, drone repair, and guerilla marketing tactics. It is an exciting time and we invite all with an active interest to attend. “
On September 19th, GoPro launched the company’s first drone, the Karma. Our first impression was mixed, but now that the dust has settled we’re going to be taking a closer look at GoPro’s first step into the consumer market. During the grand unveiling, there was plenty of well-scripted talk from CEO Nick Woodman but not a whole load of substance. Here are the answers to the questions that most drone enthusiasts will be asking about the GoPro Karma.
First up, here are the technical specs
Maximum Speed: 35 mph (15 m/s)
Flight time: Up to 20 minutes
Maximum Distance/Range: 3280ft
Maximum Wind Resistance: 22mph
Operating Frequency: 2.4GHz
Dimensions (Opened/No Propellers): Length: 12in, Width: 16.2in, Height: 4.6in
Gimbal: 3-axis stabilizing
Does the GoPro Karma have autonomous flight modes?
Yes, but there’s a catch. The remote has one button for takeoff, landing, and a return to home function. It also has four preprogrammed shots: dronie, cable cam, reveal, and orbit. The GoPro Passenger app will also allow your pals to watch live video feed from the Karma and control the camera’s position.
However, there’s no Follow-me. This seems like a bit of an oversight on GoPro’s part, and maybe something that a software patch will add in the future. For all the talk of creating an “end-to-end life-capture solution” (Eurgh), releasing a drone that can’t even follow you will take some of the spontaneity out of your adventure.
Having said that, the Karma comes with a nifty looking remote control that’s been inspired by the gaming pads Xbox and Playstation users will be accustomed to. It’s got a built-in screen, so you could just take a friend with you to follow you down that mountain from above. Still, this is not ideal, and seems to go against the whole ‘get up and go’ philosophy that GoPro likes to talk about.
All in all, with GoPro directing the Karma at newcomers to the drone scene, we can expect that it’s going to be pretty straightforward to fly out of the box. But really that’s the bare minimum required of today’s mid level drones.
Is the GoPro Karma good value for money?
This is arguably where the Karma comes into its own. It’s hard to argue with the price of the full Karma bundle, even if the drone doesn’t have the top features needed to challenge at the top of the market.
Karma will go on sale on October 23rd, costing $799 for just the drone, $1,099 with a Hero 5, or $999 with a Hero 5 Session. The two 4K camera bundles offer really good value for money, particularly when compared to the cost of other extreme sports drones. Not to mention the fact that you’ll be essentially getting three bits of photography things in one: the drone, the ‘Grip’ stick and the camera. Add that to the remote and case thrown in, and it’s hard not to conclude that the price is Karma’s most redeeming feature.
How does the GoPro Karma measure up against the competition?
The Karma appears to be all about finding the right balance between capability and price. GoPro has leaned towards producing a value-for-money drone, so it’s only natural that in terms of specifications it doesn’t quite stack up against top of the range models from DJI and Yuneec. The lack of obstacle avoidance is a shame, but understandable given the kind of price GoPro wanted to market this at- You get what you pay for in this business. Both DJI’s Phantom and Yuneec’s Tyhoon H have some kind of collision avoidance tech, which makes a lot of sense when you want your drone to follow you on outdoor adventures. It remains to be seen how users will react to the Karma when this begins to cause problems.
The lack of a Follow-me mode – a feature that pretty much every other decent drone on the market has – is pretty baffling. This combined with a relatively short flight time of around 20 minutes seems to limit the GoPro Karma’s capability quite a bit.
But that’s the point really. GoPro isn’t trying to compete with the Tyhoon H or the Phantom 4. It’s set out to develop and dominate a new market of mid level photography quads. And if any company can do it, you’d have to think it’s GoPro. The huge amount of hype they were able to generate for the Karma, as well as the company’s huge global reach, will no doubt ensure that the orders come flying in. But even that market is soon to be competitive. DJI is rumored to be ready to release its new drone, the Mavic, in a move that could see the Karma’s positive first impressions blown out of the water. We’ll have to wait and see.
Yuneec already offers controllers with built-in displays and has a drone with a detachable gimbal, while DJI is ready to release its own foldable drone in a matter of days. With that in mind, the GoPro Karma will have to rely on the brand, as well as side products like its cloud storage subscription and a range of mounts and accessories.
Bill Kimberlin, the dynamic brain behind the new 500Below app, says the idea for crowdsourcing drone support “hit me like a ton of bricks.” A serial entrepreneur, Kimberlin says that his business model is simple: “I like to find emerging markets, and figure out what the problems are – then I try to solve them before they emerge.”
The problem of getting support for drones seemed like an obvious one to Kimberlin, who first heard about drones a couple of years ago and got immediately enthusiastic. “I went out and bought a drone that night…I flew it in my living room and promptly crashed it into a wall,” he says, laughing. “On the 4th of July, I flew my drone in the rain – and I started having problems with it after that.” Kimberlin won’t call out the drone manufacturer, but after trying unsuccessfully for days to get answers from support, and sending the drone back for a replacement, he knew there was a need to fill. “What I really wanted to do was just talk to someone else who had a drone like mine,” he said. “That’s when it hit me – I could work in a shared economy model, and match people up to help each other.”
The idea is so simple – and so relevant – that it immediately attracted attention. Kimberlin introduced the idea at InterDrone 2015, where he told drone operators that there was a way for them to earn money with their drone expertise – without a Section 333 Exemption. The response was astounding: over 2,500 pilots applied to join the 500Below network. Famous entrepreneur Richard Branson of Virgin Airways heard about the idea, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the project.
The app allows drone operators to specify their expertise – what type of drone they use, what accessories and equipment, etc. – and operators with questions that they need answered in real time can use the app to find an operator experienced with their specific requirements. Qualified operators can earn money for supporting customers by logging in to the app whenever they want to: the system works along the lines of Uber or other shared economy models.
The free app is currently available in the Apple AppStore and Google Play.
Ohio-based Tremco Roofing & Building Maintenance announced that its SkyBEAM unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has completed the first Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-approved night flight, to inspect rooftops at a southern Ohio business. More than 2.3 million square feet of roofing were scanned during the mission.
The FAA granted approval to SkyBEAM for the first nighttime commercial drone operation in the U.S. in April of this year; the drone is also approved for daytime operations.
Tremco’s SkyBEAM (Building Envelope Asset Mapping) drone, developed in partnership with Toronto-based Industrial SkyWorks (ISW) features a thermographic (infrared) camera, which is most effective at identifying temperature variations during night flight when the sun is not warming the building. Temperature variations can indicate problems, such as hard-to-find leaks and roof system deficiencies. ISW has been using the SkyBEAM in Canada for the last 12 months.
The application provides a dramatic example of drones performing a task at a fraction of the time and cost. “Prior to SkyBEAM, conducting an inspection of this size would typically need eight to 10 nights and would require survey team technicians to traverse rooftops,” says the Tremco announcement. “Scanning during the historic flight took approximately three-and-a-half hours and did not require anyone on the roof at night.” The SkyBEAM’s cameras can also detect façade issues such as tiny gaps and cracks, and deteriorating concrete, that would otherwise require scaffolding or cranes to locate.
“SkyBEAM is faster and safer than conventional methods of mapping buildings, in addition to being extremely accurate. It’s also very cost-effective for larger buildings or multi-building campuses,” said Robb Chauvin, Executive Director of Inspection Services for Tremco Roofing in a statement. “This inaugural nighttime flight signifies a great advancement in the roofing and building maintenance industry. We look forward to working with our industry partners and clients, to continue to improve the building inspection process.”