Drone News

Fresh off the back of its role in advising on the use of drones on the set of Transformers: The Last Knight, Consortiq will appear at the Interdrone exhibition in Las Vegas from 6-8 September to discuss its wealth of experience in overseeing drone use in cinematography.

Drones are now commonplace on filmsets, collecting shots that other assets previously could not necessarily capture so cost effectively. However, a shift in the way they are being used has become apparent, and as a result, a need for filmmakers to consider the regulatory and safety criteria required is now evident.

While it was previously the case that drones allowed a quick transition between shots that had not been seen before, it is now not necessarily down to cost or trying to please an audience that drones are being used, but rather whether or not they will make the movie-making process quicker in comparison to using other tools.

“The creative reason for using a drone is still there, but I feel it is now shifting towards production reasons more so,” says Ben Keene, Chief Development Officer at Consortiq.

However, there are production issues generated by their use, so Consortiq wants to eliminate this responsibility on behalf of the filmmakers, taking on the role of dealing with the aviation authorities to ensure that the correct permissions to fly are in place by acting as a middle man.

“Now, everybody is very well versed in using drones on a filmset, and they are aware that they have a responsibility legally,” Keene notes. “They need to know they are protected; it’s not a fad anymore.”

The flights are not carried out by Consortiq itself, but it oversees all flying conducted by the third-party operator. The company is able to use an operator selected by the film company, or it has a trusted number of drone and payload companies that it can source on the production’s behalf.

In addition to the recent Transformers instalment, Consortiq has also advised on the of use drones during the filming of London has Fallen and Criminal. The latter saw a UAV legally operated over the streets of Central London for the first time, and started a precedent in this type of operation to support cinematography.


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 Drones have come a long ways since the era of ambiguous rules and unthinkable price tags. These days, they’re regulated, affordable and offer a wide array of uses—especially when it comes to event marketing. From content-capture to competitions, we offer four ways to give your drone strategy wings.


1. Highlight Your Technology

Intel incorporated a 22-foot diameter drones cage into its booth at the Consumer Electronics Show. The drones were flown live using Intel’s RealSense, offering attendees an engaging and relevant look at how the technology works.

2. Take Content-Capture to the Next Level

Anheuser-Busch’s second Whatever, USA program on Catalina Island put drones at the center of its content-capture toolbox. Throughout the three-day event, video drones could be seen hovering at all hours, capturing exclusive content for TV spots and the brand’s social media channels.

3. Deliver the Goods

Leveraging drones at your event can be as simple as using the devices to swiftly deliver products to attendees. Salesforce ceo Marc Benioff spiced up his keynote at Dreamforce with a Coke-delivery drone, while Anheuser-Busch delivered cold Bud Lights to attendees of its original Whatever, USA program.


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The sale and use of drones, or unmanned aircraft vehicles [UAV's], has skyrocketed in the last few years in both the recreational and commercial space. Though drones are now widely used across the globe, the US is the main driver of that growth; in March, the Federal Aviation Administration projected that the number of small hobbyist drones will surge to more than 3.5 million by 2021, and that the commercial drone fleet will explode to 442,000, compared to 42,000 at the end of last year.

“We’re talking about [unmanned] aircraft eclipsing – just completely outpacing, by huge factors – the manned aircraft space,” Van Meter says.

While there is huge demand in markets like Europe and Africa – where Van Meter believes there is growing potential for drones to help with humanitarian missions, anti-poaching and infrastructure inspection – the inconsistent regulatory landscape across the globe is often a hindrance. The US is largely setting the trend for drone usage, thanks to its active aviation market and comparatively lenient regulatory environment.

Many typically associate drones with the military, but the US commercial market is now using the aircraft across all kinds of industries, Van Meter says.

“We see all sorts of uses that you can’t even imagine – from delivering cocktails to wildlife control to industrial inspection,” he says. “We are insuring drones in almost every single industry at this point.”

Industry sectors with the highest drone usage include aerial photography – often for infrastructure inspection, especially in the energy and communications space – and construction, as well as media and production companies, says Chris Proudlove, senior vice president and manager of UAS risks at Global Aerospace.

“The one area that has been predicted as being the largest of all – agriculture – has been slower to adopt drones,” Proudlove says, adding that this is primarily due to the quality of the end product versus the relatively high cost. “This gap will narrow significantly in the coming years, and agriculture still stands to be one of the dominant user industries,” he says, pointing to the fact that many companies are now outsourcing drone services rather than developing their own in-house capabilities.

Accordingly, the insurance market for unmanned aircraft is expanding. “Insurers are keen to enter the sector, but the relatively low policy premiums and high administration costs are deterring many from entering,” Proudlove says.

As a result, most operators, manufacturers and others in the drone industry rely on aviation insurance for broad policies that will cover their exposures. However, more insurers are beginning to look at the technology  and start developing products.

“It’s definitely gotten more competitive,” Van Meter says. “We do see standard, traditionally non-aviation markets getting into this space.”

In these cases, claims expertise can be a big issue, he adds.

“These are aircraft,” he says. “This is a special field with special regulations, and it has the potential for catastrophic losses – both severe bodily injury and fatalities. If you’re a corporate user of drones, do you really want to have a claims adjuster who isn’t an expert, adjusting what could be a significant claim with prolonged litigation?


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With a constant stream of modern technology hitting the market, real estate agents and other professionals are finding new and innovative ways to take advantage of 21st century technology.

Whether it’s 360 video being used for virtual home tours, mobile apps that let you take on-the-go continuing education on your phone or new CRM platforms that keep you up-to-date on every single client interaction, there’s no shortage of tools at the industry’s disposal. One of the hottest trends in the tech field right now is the use of drones or unmanned aerial vehicles. The everyday uses for drones have been expansive — they’re being utilized for entertainment, surveillance, military programs, and most recently, real estate and home inspections.

I sat down with Brian Persons of Front Range Home Inspections to discuss the benefits and challenges of using drones in the real estate industry, and here’s what I learned.

What makes drones so popular

The possible uses of drones in real estate are endless for the creative mind. More well-known uses for agents and brokers include the ability to take aerial photos of properties for their clients and to survey landscapes and large acreage properties.

Drones can also aid agents in showing their clients a better view of the surrounding neighborhood and where their home lies in relation to local amenities.

In addition to client-facing visuals, drones can also be used for more thorough home inspections as they eliminate the need for inspectors to get on the roof to inspect tiling and other features.

“I had a few ladders slide off the gutter or on the surface below. I’ve had to disclaim roof inspections for safety reasons,” Parsons said.

Drones have been useful for Parsons’s business; they allow him to be safe and offer something his competitors can’t.

“Buyers get a more in-depth inspection, sellers get a unique view for marketing or pre-inspections,” Persons said. “I inspect a lot of rural properties as well and can get a better view of fence lines, grading, ponds, etc.”

As for future applications of this technology?

Persons said to look out for drones with up-and-coming features such as infrared thermal cameras that can sense energy loss and small drones with proximity sensors that can be used for indoor applications.

Learning to pilot a drone

Agents and brokers shouldn’t be intimidated by drones. If you’re interested in incorporating them into their business model, learning to pilot a drone is easier than one might think. “I’m 53 years old and not part of the video game generation, but the controls look similar, and with some practice in an open space, it doesn’t take long to get the basics down,” Persons said. He also noted how surprised he was at the quality of the footage he received after his first flight.


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Here’s a digital asset management (DAM) riddle for you: What technology has made the following three DAM scenarios possible? 

1. A construction firm uses aerial images to monitor job progress and send updates to its clients. 

2. A government agency analyzes 3D images to prioritize repairs to roads and bridges. 

3. A property management firm uses video and imagery to determine which buildings and landscapes need maintenance and then request bids from contractors.

If you guessed "commercial drones," you’re right on the money. And you also have a bird’s-eye view of some exciting new applications that are remaking digital asset management.

The Democratization of Drones

With the democratization of once-expensive technology such as commercial drones, there is an unprecedented amount of new digital media being created and stored outside of traditional marketing departments.

Not only marketing teams, but other areas of business, including government agencies, are increasingly relying on high pixel count imagery, video, geographical data and realistic visual 3D models and scenes to engage consumers and increase efficiency and safety.

Cutting Down Delays, Reducing Risks

For example, in the construction and infrastructure sectors, engineers regularly examine detailed geospatial images — often captured by drones — to keep track of projects and physical assets so they can act quickly and accurately, even from remote locations.

Drone-captured images can also cut down on delays in image access and reduce the risk of costly misinterpretations. And because such digital assets typically retain their value beyond an immediate project, preserving them and making them easily accessible makes sense from both economic and intellectual property standpoints.

Governments Are Transforming Aerial DAM

Yet, because the images and video from drones are typically large and data rich, they are often stored in separate files or drives, which can’t be easily searched, viewed or used in downstream applications, especially by those who may be on lower bandwidth mobile connections.

Much of the push to transform aerial image data into products and services is actually coming from government organizations such as departments of transportation that want to demonstrate value to taxpayers. 

More Data Collection Means Easier Searches 

In the past, individuals who were looking for aerial images needed to know the location first before being able to assess what they are looking at and answer questions about, say, bridge safety or road conditions.

Now, with better, cheaper and more frequent data collection from drones, governments are amassing a treasure trove of digital assets that can be made available for public access via websites that allow images to be searched by location and downloaded as JPEGs. 

Video and Virtual Tours 

Yet, all too frequently, assets continue to be managed in low-tech catalogs, spreadsheets and hard drives, making access and usage difficult and providing little value to constituents.

Meanwhile, the commercial development and real estate industries are becoming more reliant than ever on 3D virtual tours, maps and video to showcase and market properties to consumers, businesses and commercial lenders. 

For these industries, drones are quickly becoming a popular, low-cost way to capture accurate panoramic digital footage that allows viewers to experience flying around a scene to explore and measure it from any angle. In addition, drones can allow property managers to remotely monitor buildings and detect security breaches or other issues that may need attention. 

Demand Currently Exceeds Supply

Consumer acceptance of, and demand for, drone images is high, thanks to popular applications such as maps and restaurant search tools that have accustomed users to searching by location.

The bottleneck, however, lies in managing supply side resources: The explosive growth in the amount of digital media being collected makes it time consuming for managers to store, find and distribute relevant assets to clients and downstream teams who need them.

Migrating Images to the Marketing Department

As DAM resources catch up with demand, the high-quality digital media obtained by non-marketing departments can be a boon to the growing needs of traditional marketing organizations.

For example, if made easily accessible, campaign managers could edit and repurpose the images, maps and video captured outside their departments into social media, web and mobile properties. This would not only save time and expense but create new sources of novel, engaging content.

Leveraging the New Digital Assets

For these industries and others, there is a great opportunity to extend the methods and best practices of digital asset management into departments which are now acquiring and using new types of drone-generated digital media. 

The question is how to best leverage these valuable new assets by making them available in central locations. After that is accomplished, the files then need to be integrated into the file sharing and storage protocols used for the organization’s other project files, whether Microsoft Office, PDFs, etc.

To maximize their usefulness, the files must also be easily searchable, viewable and accessible to remote or extended teams for usages as diverse as coordinating subcontractors, creating sales proposals, sending client updates and marketing for blogs, brochures and other collateral.

Centralizing Locations and File Formats

With digital asset management of drone images still in its infancy, it can still seem simpler to clients to schedule an additional photo shoot rather than invest time and money in setting up a DAM system.

But early adopters are already beginning to look for solutions that will help them store new file formats in secure, centralized locations that can significantly compress large files without losing quality.

They will need to capture rich metadata, such as longitude and latitude on new asset types, search by geolocation and optionally publish files to internet portals for search, preview and download. 


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Drones gather mapping data about all kinds of things in the real world.  Today we're using apps, data, and IoT devices, including drones rather than human surveyors on site or in a plane. Have you considered how your company might use drone mapping data in business apps to deliver new value to your customers? If not, perhaps you should.

Construction companies, excavation companies, mining companies and energy companies are just a few types of organizations using drone mapping data to do their jobs more effectively and achieve better bottom-line performance.

Drone mapping solution provider Identified Technologies works with such companies to reduce costs and win more business based on the analytics and conclusions drawn from drone mapping data collected at their work sites. The end product is reports about costs and cost forecasting, progress forecasting and accounting.

"When you have an area about the size of San Francisco Bay, you've got hundreds of piece of equipment and hundreds of people around," said Dick Zhang, founder and CEO of Identified Technologies. "[Historically,] you could only confirm [their status] after the fact."

In the past, the information might not be available for weeks or months, and the cost of collecting the data could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for projects. To get paid, contractors need to show progress, such as the amount of dirt they moved and status of the roads they're building. Zhang said his customers are able to save 70% to 90% on their surveying endeavors.

Although using drones to gather mapping data isn't a new concept, the economics of owning, renting and using them have changed dramatically as drone technology continues to improve and prices continue to fall.

"You can get remarkable quality and reliability for a remarkable price [which] has accelerated growth in the market," said Zhang. "Data is a huge driver."


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At this week’s InterDrone conference, top industry figures discussed the next step of enterprise drone programs: data-driven business transformation.

The panel, moderated by Intel‘s Anil Nanduri, was a small group of heavy hitters.  Michael Ritter of SlantrangeDyan Gibbens of Trumbull Unmanned and Dr. Christophe Strecha of Pix4D focused on how to integrate aerial data throughout the enterprise.  “If you’re in the industry, you’ll likely work at some point with someone on this panel,” said Gibbens, pointing out that the group represented areas across the workflow: from data capture to processing and analysis.

Nanduri began by asking the panel if they had seen proof of concept projects with aerial data become recurring ways of doing business for their enterprise customers.  Gibbens, whose clients are primarily in the energy industry, commented that lower oil prices had forces efficiencies in that vertical – which had led to the adoption of drone mapping projects.  Dr. Strecha of Pix4D said that their company had seen widespread adoption in areas where drones have a significant benefit, such as mining where drones can travel in inhospitable environments.  And Ritter, whose customers are in the agriculture sector, said that drones had revolutionized the way that crops are evaluated – “We’ve seen an evolution of these concepts being adopted,” said Ritter.  “Some parts of the industry are eagerly adopting the technology.

While the panel saw drone technology being broadly adopted across verticals, they agreed that agriculture – a $5 trillion industry – may offer the most potential for the drone industry.  Defense, energy, and construction were all named as emerging sectors for drone technology adoption.

The panel agreed that adoption of drone technology differed around the world.  Strecha pointed out that the concept of data sharing is different depending upon where you are.  “In many parts of Asia, cloud-solutions are just not acceptable,” said Strecha.  “And pushing data to a cloud is still really hard in some areas… in the next few years, I think internet connectivity will be OK around the world, but how do you get there now?”

When asked what they saw as the top barriers to entry for enterprise clients, participants said that education, regulations, and data transfer were important.   Gibbens commented that their company had to educate clients on technology adoption and safety issues, and added that clients were not interested in small benefits but needed to see an order of magnitude savings.

Technology has outpaced regulations, the panel agreed – but it is up to the drone industry to help.  “How can we work with FAA to solve the problems for them?” asked Gibbens.”Where we really want to get to is beyond line of sight,” said Ritter. “That will really transform the industry.”


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Bee-based maths is helping teach swarms of drones to find weeds, while robotic mowers keep hedgerows in shape. 

‘We observe the behaviour of bees. We gain knowledge of how the bees solve problems and with this we obtain rules of interaction that can be adapted to tell us how the robot swarms should work together,’ said Vito Trianni at the Institute of Cognitive Sciences and Technologies of the Italian National Research Council.

Honeybees, for example, run on an algorithm to allow them to choose the best nest site, even though no bee knows the full picture.

Trianni runs an EU-funded research project known as SAGA, which is using the power of robotic groupthink to keep crops weed free.

‘We can use low-cost robots and low-cost cameras. They can even be prone to error, but thanks to the cooperation they will be able to generate precise maps at centimetre scales,’ said Trianni.

‘They will initially spread over the field to inspect it at low resolution, but will then decide on areas that require more focus,’ said Trianni. ‘They can gather together in small groups closer to the ground.’

Importantly the drones make these decisions themselves, as a group.

Next spring, a swarm of the quadcopters will be released over a sugar beet field. They will stay in radio contact with each other and use algorithms learnt from the bees to cooperate and put together a map of weeds. This will then allow for targeted spraying of weeds or their mechanical removal on organic farms.

Today the most common way to control weeds is to spray entire fields with herbicide chemicals. Smarter spraying will save farmers money, but it will also lower the risk of resistance developing to the agrichemicals. And there will be an environmental benefit from spraying less herbicides. 


Swarms of drones for mapping crop fields offer a service to farmers, while farm co-ops could even buy swarms themselves.

‘There is no need to fly them every day over your field, so it is possible to share the technology between multiple farmers,’ said Trianni. A co-op might buy 20 to 30 drones, but adjust the size of the swarm to the farm. 

The drones are 1.5 kilos in weight and fly for around 20-30 minutes. For large fields, the drone swarms could operate in relay teams, with drones landing and being replaced by others.

It’s the kind of technology that is ideally suited to today’s large-scale farms, as is another remote technology that combines on-the-ground sensor information with satellite data to tell farmers how much nitrogen or water their fields need.

Wheat harvested from a field in Boigneville, 100 km south of Paris, France, in August this year will have been grown with the benefit of this data, as part of pilot being run by an EU-funded project known as IOF2020, which involves over 70 partners and around 200 researchers.


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So you want a drone that can film from the sky? DRIVE/Aerial is here to help. A few years ago, if you wanted to dabble in aerial photography or cinematography, you only had a handful of options. Today's offerings, however, come with a wide array of features and can range from hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars, which makes trying to find the right one daunting. 

So to help you sort out the good from the bad, we at DRIVE/Aerial decided to put together a list of our favorite camera-ready drones available as of February 2017. That way, you'll be all ready to film your family on your next vacation to Aruba.

Holy Stone F181 - $109.99

If you'd like to dip your toe in to the aerial filming market, the Holy Stone F181 is a good place to start. This feature-packed drone comes with an attachable 720p camera, a push-button return, and an altitude hold function that can help any pilot stay up in the air. Unfortunately, it doesn't come with an external gimbal to stabilize your footage, which means your camera is only as steady as your flying. But for the $109 price tag, this drone is hard to beat. 

Yuneec Breeze 4K - $364.38

We like to call the Breeze the budget DJI Mavic (see below). It's a portable 4K drone that is easy to use and fits in a backpack. The only drawback is its lack of stabilized footage. The portable design means Yuneec sacrificed an external gimbal, so you'll have to stabilize your footage in post-production. But for the price and feature list (4K video and 13MP stills, as well as selfie, orbit, journey, and follow-me modes) the Breeze is a good entry into filming from the air.

Yuneec Q500 4K - $799.00


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Armed with an array of sensors, commercial drones are about to become a new source for digital information. We expect the drone market to surge to nearly $7 billion by 2020 globally, driven by regulatory clarification, continuously decreasing component costs, and – most important– ongoing innovation that connects drone capabilities to big-data analytics.

While 60% of drone usage currently relates to communications and media such as for film making and commercial photography, new higher-value applications are on their way, as drones have a significant advantage in terms of precision, convenience, and cost over more traditional solutions such as satellites and helicopters. Drone-mounted sensors can be used to capture an impressive array of data, paving the way for increased digitalization of industrial processes.

Leaders across a spectrum of industries are already availing themselves of drone-based data. In the oil industry, for example, what used to be weeks of inspection work now takes just days, thanks to drone-based thermal imaging and gas “sniffer” technology to inspect oil rigs and pipelines. Sky Futures, a third-party drone services company that specializes in such inspections, works with oil companies, such as BP, Shell, Statoil, and Conoco Philips, and has raised $9.5 million in investment capital in just the past year.

In transportation, American railroad BNSF is partnering with the Federal Aviation Administration to test drones for remote track and bridge inspection and air quality monitoring.  Network Rail in the United Kingdom is using drones as part of its ORBIS project to digitize the country’s rail network in 3D, to enable better planning of track maintenance and renewal. Airlines Easyjet and Lufthansa have adopted drones as a tool for aircraft inspections.

Other industries are being persuaded by the cost and safety benefits of drone-based data as well. Mining giant Rio Tinto is using drones to survey equipment and mining pits in Western Australia. Heavy machinery company Caterpillar is reportedly exploring the use of drones for fleet vehicle management in the field, while drones are the cornerstone of Komatsu’s “Smart Construction” service, which can fully automate bulldozers and excavators. And one of retail’s largest players, Walmart, is testing how drones could help improve warehouse inventory management.

The multiplying possibilities of drone-based data could inspire across-the-board alterations in data gathering strategies, particularly if such changes lead to cost savings, improved safety, and enhanced analytics. For example, savings are to be had in analysis of inventory stockpiles, thermal imaging of pipelines and rail lines, three-dimensional modeling of insurance claims, and non-destructive terahertz imaging for buildings. Soon, it might be worthwhile for many companies to check whether drone-based data could add value – either to optimize current operations or offer new avenues for growth.

If a company can identify potential benefits, it can then consider whether to consolidate drone program development across multiple business units or subsidiaries, so as to concentrate investment dollars and strengthen data analytics. In addition, organizations that decide to invest in drones may need to adjust their data architectures and processes – and improve their understanding of  local regulations. While some drone-based data may complement existing information, some will make other information-gathering methods obsolete. Given that drones have little track record as yet, determining the “best” method for data gathering will require strict analysis of benefits versus costs, such as through pilot programs, before undertaking expensive functional restructuring.

Businesses also will need to determine whether to run their own drones or outsource. Factors such as investment horizon, need for data security, and desired development speed will influence this choice. A company might opt for in-house drone operation and data analysis if it is concerned about proprietary issues or security, is willing to make a substantial up-front investment, and wants to take a “learn by doing” approach. As an example, French railway operator SNCF is using an internal drone program to enhance safety and maintenance through network surveillance.


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