Upsonder - UAV Rental


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Yet another way to earn money with an UAV - rent it out!

https://www.upsonder.com

They are in a beta test at the moment operating in 3 major cities - New York, Chicago and San Francisco and provide a way for UAV owners to rent out their equipment to others as well as a market place for service providers. I think I would be hesitant to rent out my UAV to a stranger but their FAQ section states that if anything happens to the drone they will replace or repair it.

https://www.upsonder.com/view/faq

Edited by Spitfire76
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Had an interesting and lengthy conversation with an FAA Aviation Safety Inspector this morning.  He is a very knowledgeable Part 107 guy and I mentioned the Upsonder thing.  He wasn't aware of the company but said in no uncertain terms that the owner of the rental UAV would most definitely have some responsibility in the event of some violation or worse on the part of a renter.  I'm no lawyer, but I am going with him on this.

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Interesting take on his part, however I am not following his logic. As a pilot, I rented airplanes for years. Any pilot misconduct on my part while operating said aircraft made me directly responsible to the FAA, not the owner. The owner is responsible for a current annual A&P certificate on each airplane and for renting to a pilot with the proper certification.

Under the inspector's logic, the store that sold me the drone can be held responsible for my actions? I see some legal liability on the owner (if product was defective)  but not FAA action on the drone owner. Just my 2 cents. I value my UAVs way too much to rent them...

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So what if the owner (me), allows Upsonder to rent to Mr Joe Blow, and I no longer have control of the who what and where, the FAA inspector says the owner (me) is in the "responsibility loop" (my terminology).  Interesting question and all I can say is that it was most likely discussed at a 2:00pm meeting today in Atlanta.

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@Alan Perlman The team and I where just talking about these guys today! Great concept. Especially for expensive and specialty aircraft and payloads. My biggest question to the Upsonder team would be about maintenance standards, and documentation of maintenance on the aircraft available for rental. To @Uaviator53's point, way back in (manned) ground school, my instructor taught me to never rent an airplane without verifying it's inspection records. (annual, 100hr, ETC) Especially if its your first time renting from a particular flight school.

Reason being, it is incumbent on the Pilot In Command to verify that an aircraft is airworthy. Period.

For example: If I where to rent my favorite sport plane that's a few hours past its required 100hr inspection, and If I had an issue with the airplane and made an off airport landing, I would be at fault. The FAA's reasoning in that determination would be that I chose to fly anyway, without verifying airworthiness first.

Bringing it back to Drones:

So, the good news is drones don't have an "on paper" requirement of particular inspections like airplanes do. The bad news, is this is mostly because our industry lacks standardization around preventive maintenance. DJI, for example won't tell me how long the motor bearings in the Inspire 1 last, or how I need to keep the landing gear jackscrew lubricated. 

Most of us pros are meticulous about maintaining our aircraft in pristine condition (our certificates depend on it, after all) but my inkling is those renting on Upsonder will be casual users and hobbyists who want to monetize their AC's downtime. to @Ed O'Grady point about liability, Would I trust my RPC certificate (and maybe manned cert too) to a stranger's equipment?

 

For me, the answer is maybe. I trust my certificate (and my life) to plenty of manned airplanes that aren't owned or maintained by me. However, At least I can verify that they are maintained, and properly so. That puts my mind at ease enough to fork over my credit card and strap in!

 

 

Edited by BrendanS_AVI
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  • 2 weeks later...

Had a great chat with their CEO recently and will email this thread to him to see if he can offer a response. Long story short, I was impressed with him and his vision for the company. They only went live a few weeks ago but seem to have a good model that benefits both sides of the marketplace. Good policies re: insurance.

@BrendanS_AVI dude great points about airworthiness.

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Hello Gentleman. Thank you @Alan Perlman for let me know about this thread. My name is Derek Waleko and I am the CEO of Up Sonder. I'm happy to answer any questions and gather feedback to improve the company. @Ed O'Grady  The FAA is right, the owners have responsibility and that's why Up Sonder protects our drone owners. Up Sonder has a $1,000,000 liability insurance policy that covers Up Sonder and it's Providers that rent out only their drone to a third party (Up . The Up Sonder policy does not extend or carry over to those who operate the drone or who rent Provider's drones and/or services. Up Sonder Renters and service providers are encouraged to buy their own private drone insurance before taking flight. @BrendanS_AVI You make great points, but as you stated there are no "on paper" requirements for drone maintenance logs. My team looked into this and there just isn't a standard that exists. Up Sonder very much wants healthy drones out in the marketplace for people to enjoy and commercial users to count on. Right now my team is relying on the review process after each rental to shed light on the health of the drone. One thing that we can do as a company is bee proactive on sending reminders to Up Sonder community members about maintaining a healthy drone. Brendan if you have time please contact by email, derek.waleko@upsonder.com, to brainstorm. I'd love to hear any ideas you may have. Thank you all for the positive comments on Up Sonder. My team designed Up Sonder for you so if there is anything that my team can do to improve the site or how we operate, please let me know. We'll take every suggestion seriously. Up Sonder is in beta right now fine tuning and making improvements every day.  

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@Up Sonder

Hey Derek! Thanks for taking the time to reach out!

I think you guys have a great concept. When we launched the thermography course, we had more than a few students asking about rental programs. $8,500-$12,000 is a whole lot to sink on a sensor alone, if yo only plan on making a few flights in the near future, so I see a ton of demand out there especially for the expensive/high performance equipment. 

I'll send you an email this afternoon, lets set up a time to chat! In the relative vacuum of maintenance standards you have a great opportunity to get out in front of the industry and position yourself as experts providing the highest caliber of equipment.

Excited to talk with you further. Let's connect!

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1 hour ago, BrendanS_AVI said:

...$8,500-$12,000 is a whole lot to sink on a sensor alone, if yo only plan on making a few flights in the near future, so I see a ton of demand out there especially for the expensive/high performance equipment...

@BrendanS_AVI - you hit the nail on the head. Some of the professional systems from SenseFly or Trimble we are looking at right now for business cost between $20,000 & $60,000 USD. Being able to rent one of these units would greatly reduce our initial ramp up cost until we are certain we want to own one...

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@Steve Bennett

Right with you. I think that will be a key market differentiation for the rental services. Renting high end, highly specialized equipment to experienced clients. Anyone renting a SenseFly, Precision Hawk, or Trimble aircraft is going to be serious and responsible. An added bonus, is the types of clients that would rent say, an Ebee RTK would be far more likely to treat it with care and keep it in good condition. While that's not a perfect solution to the maintenance question, it would definitely inspire a degree of confidence. 

Edited by BrendanS_AVI
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