Where to start? How to start?

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Good afternoon all!

Real quick background, I’m a non-traditional (woohoo! second career time) student working towards a Bachelors of Science in Wildlife, Sustainability, and Ecosystems Science (WSES) with a concentration in Natural Resource Ecology (focusing on plants).  I have been reading up and looking at the use of drones for plant mapping.  I have seen significant information and videos on the use of multispectral imaging using drones for agriculture purposes and think those methods would be beneficial in plant community research.  However, where to start.  In my younger more wilder days I’d have just dove right in but now I’m better and taking my time and thinking things through before I take the plunge.  The more I read the more questions I have.  For instance, what is required by the FAA to use drones?  Is it the same requirements if it is for research?  Which drone should I consider?  How user friendly is the different mapping software?  Is the annual subscription cost worth it? I also have been trying to figure out if the different mapping data and photos can be imported into different software suites such as ArcGIS.  Any thoughts out there would be greatly appreciated.



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Hi @Dmjohnston,

Welcome to the UAV Coach Community Forum! To help get you started, I recommend reviewing the drone laws in the U.S.  In order to operate your drone commercially, you will need to have an FAA Part 107 certification. You can learn more about that process on this page .

Please let us know if you have any questions!

 - Chase 


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  • 1 month later...

DroneDeploy...Expensive...Yes....Worth it...ABSOLUTELY!...For the written, Good Ole John & Martha...King School of Aeronautics....Flight Lessons....MANDATORY!…Starting Out, Get a Night Job...to build time & experience, Use DroneUp...the more qualifications you pass, the more sub-contracted jobs you receive....plan on 2 years of working hard and not making much money....In 2 years of that, you should be able to get a good job....Welcome to Aviation My Friend!

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The "drone" industry is quite different than the "aviation" industry.  It might fall under the same regulatory agency but that's where the similarity ends.  

To start you need to reverse engineer the issues literally from the ground up.  What data are you trying to collect?  How is that data currently collected?  What benefit is there trying to collect it from a drone?  Multi spectral was cool 40 years ago but what other instruments are being used to collect actionable data?

We have done several missions where we flew a hyper-spectral sensor, trouble is that sensor weighed about 8 pounds and costs approximately $250K.  The customer was trying to detect an invasive species of weed in the middle of a cranberry bog.  We could detect it but it proved to be cost prohibitive to be able to autonomously target and eradicate it. 

Unless all your trying create is a DEM then applications like DroneDeploy probably won't work for the kind of research your talking about.  And if your wanting to start a drone business to provide thermal or NDVI it would be very difficult to be competitive/profitable in that space.  There are a lot of companies like these that talk a mean game about precision agriculture but figuring out how to collect actionable data for farmers and building a profitable business is much harder than using fancy buzz words and AI.   

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