Getting Started in the Drone Services Industry
Drones are revolutionizing every industry they touch. From ambitious Amazon delivery services, to agricultural monitoring, drones provide a whole new range of job opportunities and ways to improve upon existing business models. For those preparing to dip their toes into this world and involve drones in their business, the story of Chris Rice, and how he came to be flying a drone is informative.
Chris Rice is the President of Front Range UAS, and his fleet of drones provide a variety of remote sensing technologies, including precision agricultural monitoring, thermal imaging, air quality monitoring, and photogrammetry. Before the advent of drone technology, most of these functions were too expensive or time consuming for all, except the largest businesses to regularly monitor. However, Chris saw that drones made this type of monitoring more available and cheaper to deploy, not requiring the investments on manned aircraft that current companies had to invest. He set up Front Range UAS to take advantage of this.
Similar to needing a trucker’s license to drive one commercially, drone operators need the proper certification to ensure they are operating safely. Currently this is done by submitting a petition for a Section 333 Exemption to the Federal Aviation Administration. It is a straightforward process, and at of the end of 2015, nearly 90% of petitions filed have been granted.
Chris was able to complete his in two weeks without needing to seek outside assistance. For those who do not want to handle the petition writing themselves, there are a handful of firms that will draft and process the filings for under $2,000. Once an entrepreneur has their petition granted, they get in on the ground floor of the emerging industry that is only expected to grow.
Businesses don’t need to employ drone pilots to reap the benefits of the drone-enabled intelligence. Drone service providers like Front Range UAS can handle a range of assignments, from providing accurate, real-time information about crops to farmers, to industrial applications, such as monitoring pipeline integrity, and remotely monitoring air quality.
Chris uses an Agribotix Enduro™ quad copter and the FarmLens™ data and analytics platform to process his images and deliver actionable reports for his agriculture customers. “The main problem it solves for me is time. The turnaround on image processing is so quick, I can have data to my customers almost immediately. This is a serious advantage in ag, because of the time-sensitive nature of the business.”