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About Me

Found 13 results

  1. On the heels of a $170 million fundraise led by Andreessen Horowitz, drone maker Skydio is taking off. Over the last two weeks, I’ve tested their latest model, the Skydio 2, with off-the-shelf software and its Cinema Kit accessories. In this post, I’ll review Skydio 2’s hardware and compare it with similar DJI products. In a subsequent article, come back as I delve into Skydio's software capabilities. What I reviewed: Skydio 2 with Cinema Kit The drone itself retails for $999 and comes with the drone, a battery, a basic charger, and the ability to control the drone using the off-the-shelf software (which is available for both Android or iOS). The Cinema Kit costs an additional $900 and gives you additional hardware such as a controller, beacon, filers, an additional hardshell case, and filters you can use on the camera. The $999 starting price plus $900 extra for the Cinema Kit is in the normal range for drones of this type. For example: the Mavic Pro with “Fly More” package, similar to the Skydio Cinema Kit, will cost you about $1,800 total. From a regular drone user perspective, the price point shouldn’t scare you. I tried to get a hold of Skydio to test out the enterprise software (which costs $1,500 per month), but no one responded to my inquiries, so I used the off-the-shelf software. Skydio 2 basic facts overview The Skydio 2 hits all the basics that experienced drone users would expect. Weight: The Skydio 2 weighs 775 grams, a typical consumer drone weight. Body structure: The Skydio 2 drone is a quadcopter style drone, meaning it has propellers on each corner of the body (a common design for drones). Speed: It can reach speeds of over 36 mph, which is faster than most non-racing drones (including the DJI Mavic Pro). Flight time: It can fly for more than 20 minutes straight, which is about average for high quality consumer drones. Operation temperature range: The Skydio 2 can operate in -5C to 40C (23F to 104F), which is fairly typical for quadcopter drones. Cameras: The Skydio 2 has six 4k cameras offering 45 megapixels, which is industry-leading camera quality. Skydio 2 pros Here’s what stuck out to me about the basic drone package: On-board obstacle avoidance: The Skydio 2 does a great job with flying autonomy. The drone has six 4k cameras, giving it an all-around view of its surroundings. From there, the drone uses the NVIDIA graphics cards to analyze images coming in from the drone at incredibly fast speeds. The result is efficient, automatic obstacle avoidance, making it easy to focus on taking pictures instead of avoiding a crash. This can be especially helpful for solar contractors when navigating trees or dealing with high winds, since the drone does a lot of the work for you. Camera quality: While the drone only uses the front 4k camera for images (the remaining five cameras are for obstacle avoidance), it’s very high quality and will give you crisp, clear pictures even as the drone zig-zags around obstacles. Based on my experience with multiple drones, the 4k camera is on par with a Mavic Pro 2, better than a Mavic Air 2 and much better than a Mavic Mini 2. High-quality look and feel: Despite there being tons of small pieces (cameras, propellers, etc.), everything fits together seamlessly. Nothing rattled as I moved the drone around and detachable elements have solid-feeling locks with quick-release pieces for convenience. Further, all the pieces fit tightly and seamlessly together, giving it an overall premium feel that felt good in my hands as I took it out of the box. The Cinema Kit added a few other pros to the mix: Beacon: Similar to a GPS tracker, the beacon allows you to fly the drone without the controller or your phone. It’s especially helpful for live action tracking (like sports). However, I don’t see it having a huge impact outside of that use case. Filters: The Polar Pro filters that came with the drone’s cinema kit are high quality and are incredibly helpful for managing light exposure for images on bright or cloudy days, something especially helpful for solar contractors that work in multiple different environments. They have a magnetic attachment method that easily snaps onto the lens of the Skydio 2, which makes them easy to use for anyone. The other accessories that come in the Cinema Kit - such as a memory card and microfiber cloth - were normal and worked as they should. No complaints, and nothing that would negatively impact a solar contractor. Skydio 2 cons Despite being high quality, there were a few downsides to the drone’s hardware. The drone is not foldable: The Skydio 2 is fairly big (223 x 273 x 74 mm (L x W x H)) and doesn’t fold. By comparison, the DJI Mavic Air is almost half the size at 168 x 184 x 64 mm and folds to get even smaller. As a solar contractor travelling from site to site, this size could get fairly cumbersome. Magnetic battery: The battery only has a magnetic attachment to the bottom of the drone - you don’t clip it in anywhere. To me, it seems like a bad idea to have the battery not clipped in as it could fall off during flight. However, there were no problems during my test flights. So this is less of a “con” so much a bit confusing based on my previous drone experience. A bit bulky: The size of the whole thing (including the carrying case) felt big and clunky compared to what I’m used to with other drones. However, if you are driving around instead of walking, it fits easily in the back seat or on the floor in the passenger side. And in the Cinema Kit: Controller: Skydio partnered with Parrot to create this controller. At first, it felt kind of cheap in my hands - as if it might break if I held it too tightly. It worked well in my test flights, but left me with potential concerns for extended use in the field as a solar contractor. Multi-charger: The multi-charger can only charge two batteries and the controller (or three batteries and no controller) at once. This is limiting compared to the DJI Mavic dock which can charge three batteries and the controller. The next step: software The Skydio 2 stands out against competitors due to the company’s focus on self-flying and obstacle avoidance. All of the features above, in particular the cameras, are geared towards the drone all but flying itself. In short, it’s like having all of Tesla’s self-driving capabilities, but in a drone. Flying the Skydio 2 drone was a lot of fun with the on-board obstacle avoidance features, and the hardware offers a broadly premium experience. In part 2 of my review, I’ll dive more into the software that powers the drone and share my opinions and experiences. I’ll also give my final recommendation on whether I think people should buy the Skydio 2 drone for solar contract work.
  2. Hi, new member here. Sorry in advance if some of my questions are too "noobish" I work for a mining company, limestone being our main thing, and a higher up recently got enamored with drone surveying, more specifically Trimble. After a few meetings with them, I attended being the obligatory IT guy, They seem like a legit big company, but not the most cost-friendly from my own research. Apparently the main selling points of theirs is their proprietary Image processing software/service Stratus & proprietary GCPs, Aeropoints. They claim to have images processed in under 6-8 hours by their own "professionals" and cloud service software. Our current SW takes about 24-48 hours. Of course it's a service so it'll be a monthly/yearly payment. They were also pushing their fixed wing drone UX11 & ground-based 3D laser scanners as well as their "total software package" that had CAD capabilities, point could tools, road design tools etc. Anyone here have experience working with them, and what were your experiences like? Were their higher prices worth it? Were they faster & images more accurate as they claim? I'm more curious about their software than their hardware. Thank You.
  3. Hello UAV community, For the past 4 years, I have been working as a drone operator and aerial cinematographer around the United States. I recently moved to Puerto Rico to pursue a documentary project and have decided to start a different kind of drone business with a local colleague. I am looking for advice on the most popular drone models that are currently used for damage/structural inspections, 3D mapping, and surveying (I understand that this is probably 3 separate drones). I could repurpose my Mavic Pro and Inspire 2 for this venture, but I imagine there are systems that are better suited for this work. While I have extensive experience flying for film and documentary clients, this is a totally green area for me. Any help pointing me in the right direction would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
  4. I operate a 3D mapping company that conducts surveys and designs for solar projects. I'm looking for drone pilots with electrical experience, who are interested in conducting site surveys. Among several tasks, you must be comfortable removing the cover of an electrical box. We are looking to work with pilots around the United States and have an immediate need in New York State, specifically near Utica and Corning/Elmira. If you're interested, please email me at In your email, please include your resume and/or why you are qualified for the project.
  5. Hello everyone! My name is Frank Lovering and I've been flying drones over 3 years now and passed the initial 107 Certification Test 2 years ago plus the 2nd test 2 months ago. All of my experience has been on DJI drones (P4, Inspire 1v2 and now a Mavic 2 Pro). I'm interested in learning about surveying with the new DJI P4 RTK, the Mavic 2 Pro for Search and Rescue and the Matrice 200 for Ag purposes. And also interested in learning how to fly tiny whoops and race drones. I'm in Yakima, WA. Would love to know where to look for folks using drones professionally and for racing!
  6. Hi, We are TraceAir - we use digital copies of construction sites to automate earthmoving. We are making a "virtual engineer" that automatically compares digital copies of construction sites made with drones against designs and blueprints to help construction teams build faster & cheaper. We raised a seed round of investment and hiring great people. Here is a link to Drone/Field Operations Manager opening at our company. Please read more and apply on Angel List if interested. Thanks! Nikita Ushakov, Co-Founder, Head of Marketing @ TraceAir
  7. Hey all - My name is Ryan and I’m new to the drone community here in the northeast. Looking to dive into this industry and see how we can incorporate it into our civil/survey workflow. Kudos to Alan and the course curriculum he tought. Passed the Part 107 Test yesterday with a 95 ?? Ryan B
  8. Anyone ran into problems for not having a land surveyor state license? Providing aerial surveying can sometimes replace boots-on-the-ground topographic surveying. I expect there will (already been) push back that UAV data are not as accurate as ground measurements. For example, would a client prefer state licensed ground crew over a newbie UAV surveyor? How do you justify UAV other than lower cost? Thanks, Kam
  9. Hello people, i just passed my 107 and I am waiting to receive my license number but while I wait I am trying to get my company off the ground. I have a LOT to learn, like reducing error in drone deploy/autocad transfer basically field to finish work and having it reliable for customers. Anyhow I would seriously appreciate any advice or help with any of the issues listed above. Thanks! Ray
  10. Hi to all fellow drone enthusiasts;) I'm new to droning; i'm developer of alternative energy systems for a sustainable energy supply for everyone; solar and wind energy project developments require substantial amount of space; this space has to be mapped, georeferenced and topography imported into CAD for further processing (cut and fill, grading, foundation design, ...) Later on, o&m work has to be performed (pole inspection, powerlines inspection and thermal inspection of solar field, ...) I'm in the process of setting up business to provide development, design, and o&m drone services for the segment i'm in. I'm open to partnership. I'm not very familiar with picture processing and I'm looking for recommendations with regard to system setup and process / workflow implementation. My educational background is environmental engineering and physical oceanography (both master degrees from german universities) I'm looking forward to your comments Thx, Dirk
  11. Hello, I just got asked to to a project which involves surveying. The client would like a 29 acre area of land referenced and have a 3D map showing elevations if possible. What is the best program to use for this? I have a Phantom 3 Pro and an Inspire 1 Pro to take the pictures. Also, how much would you charge for this? The client also wants pics and a video fly over. If anyone has any good advice and a good place to see examples, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks! Bert P
  12. Hello, I have a couple of potential large clients within a couple of miles of me. One has a granite quarry, stone crushing, and asphault manufacuring. Another has a very large stone & gravel company, does land clearing and developing including some properties they purchase for themselves. The later is currently doing a 400 acre site clearing where the town has a, I believe, national company provide drone arerial photography to satisfy the town on the work near wet lands. Since my interest is in the commercial industrial, construction, inspection areas, including real estate to put money in my pocket while building the other desired insdustries, I am looking to partner or obtain the hardware and software to give me the opportunity to work such projects and industries. There have been a number of players that offer solutions like this in the last year. Since this is a startup venture, I want to approach companies like this but need the tools and support from the right vendor, especial when budgeting is rather tight to this startup and is crutial. Marketing material and support would obviously be very important to do some hand-holding with me while I get going. I work in the mid Massachusetts areas to Southern NH. My goal is to have the needed vendor I can work with prior to knocking on doors, especially if I don't have the right marketing material or hardware/software to see it thru and potential loose a client by wasting his time. Does anyone have any vendors they would suggest given the above?
  13. Helllo everybody I'm Evan from India. I have been working as a GIS Professional for the past 7 years. Now in near future we might have to acquire aerial photographs of 400 Sq Km and prepare orthophotos. The study area has some significant undulations and forest cover as well. What I would like to know Can I propose a UAV survey method for this kind of project? If yes then roughly how long will it take to complete the flying (considering 10 cm. GSD)? What kind of UAV & software combination (e.g. DJI Phantom 4 with Pix4D Mapper) should I think about? Any help is much appreciated! -Regards, Evan Roy