Review – DroneUp – So Much More Than A Place for Pilots to Make MoneyNovember 7, 2018 14 By Scott Hinkle
It’s been a while since I’ve posted on a topic in the Make Money category. DroneUp is a great resource but it’s so much more than a place for pilots to make money. From offering training, volunteering for search and rescue missions to matching pilots with missions to meet the client needs, DroneUp has you covered. I wanted to provide you with an overview and review of DroneUp. Please keep reading to see how DroneUp might be a good fit for you.
I’ve referenced DroneUp’s free FAA Part 107 Prep Course and Practice Exam in my Get the FAA Done License – Make Money Legally with Your Mavic post but that’s only one reason to check them out. DroneUp really can be your go-to place when it comes to working in the drone community, both for hire as well as a volunteer. If you’re looking for qualified pilots for a job you have, check them out, as matching pilots to missions is their specialty.
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What is DroneUp All About?
Check out their mission and vision:
“DroneUp matches missions with small Unmanned Aerial System (sUAS) pilots and provides enterprising Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM). Our DroneUp Mission Match pilot management platform – locates, qualifies, and deploys single pilot or multi-pilot crews according to our client requirements. We deliver on-demand services to commercial, government, and public safety organizations and address critical airspace safety oversight to local, state and federal agencies through our UTM platform. DroneUp is committed to providing a comprehensive network of pilots while maintaining a steadfast commitment to safety and responsible operations.”
Their guiding principals speak a lot to me and are on par with my speaking points in my Community Interactions – Improving Perception of the Drone Community post:
“The future success of the unmanned systems industry is directly impacted by how professionally our community operates its vehicles and systems. The fear, uncertainty, and doubt that exists among government agencies and communities toward unmanned systems will gradually diminish only if we maintain the highest ethical and operational standards. Therefore:
- We will utilize our unmanned vehicles: (a) For profit ONLY when appropriate; (b) To assist our communities WHENEVER needed.
- Federal, state, local, and FAA regulations are not just guidance or suggestions, they are laws that govern our behavior.
We hold ourselves and others within our community to these standards.”
Here’s the role they play:
DroneUp is committed to helping the FAA improve sUAS flight safety through ever-evolving course materials, updated examinations, and safe training missions. We will educate ourselves and our pilots. We will always strive to ensure that our mission aligns with, and promotes, the desired outcomes of the FAA, public safety personnel, and the unmanned systems community.
We believe drone pilot organizations have an opportunity and perhaps even an obligation to regulate ourselves with policies, procedures, and certifications that support the FAA’s drone regulations. Through camaraderie and group accountability, we will continue to meet our commitments to our community and to other organizations we support.
Consulting and Commercial Services
Their tag line pretty much says it all:
“We are not drone people who know a little about business. We are business people who know a lot about drones.”
DroneUp really knows their stuff. Their team consists of seasoned business leaders with expertise in IT, aviation, marketing, digital transformation, law, defense, public safety and, of course, small unmanned aerial systems (sUAS/drones) operations. They work with consulting firms, businesses and government agencies to identify and develop effective drone strategies that promote positive and measurable outcomes.
DroneUp works and has experience in the several industries including the following:
- Insurance – Claims Adjustments, Risk Engineering and Fraud Reduction
- Real Estate – Maps, Surveys, Infrastructure and Mechanical Analysis
- Agriculture (I worked with them in this category recently and was pleasantly surprised with the simplicity of the missions and the monetary compensation. Check out the First-hand Experience section below.) – Soil and Field Analysis, Crop Monitoring, Irrigation and Health Assessment
- Construction – Land Surveys, Site Security, Safety Inspections and Time-Lapsed Progressions
- Public Safety (This was my first experience with DroneUp. Check out the Public Safety section below.) – Incident Reconstruction, Damage Assessment, Search and Rescue and Security
- Inspection – Towers, Bridges, Powerlines and Roofs
They really do cover it all.
This area of DroneUp is the first one that I’ve had experience with. Before going into details of my experience let me tell you what their contribution to public safety is all about.
DroneUp provides unparalleled management of sUAS operators during critical and emergency response events. Combining geospatial technologies, task management, mission-specific communications, and airspace transparency, their command center can identify, notify, deploy instantly, and deconflict drone operators regardless of mission area size.
Utilizing dynamic geofencing, complex metadata filtering, and other data models, sUAS operators are assigned missions/tasks, provided with encrypted communication channels, and gather critical data for storage and analysis. The common operating environment streamlines airspace management and deconfliction. It also connects governments, corporations, and NGO’s with the necessary pilot pool during large-scale events requiring surge support from disparate organizations.
Powerful features include:
- Real-Time Location of All sUAS Operators
- Rapid Web-Based Mission Creation
- Selection of Operators by Roles, Assets, or Skills
- Instant Mission Notification to Operators
- Mission-Specific Encrypted Communications
- Multi-Agency Collaboration and Deconfliction
- Command & Control Dashboards
- Unlimited Number of Resources
I first signed up to be a pilot for DroneUp just because it was there and I wanted to offer my services should they be required. Not much happened after that for quite a while. I’d get the occasional e-mail talking about the latest news in the drone industry or new features in the app and so on but nothing too exciting.
Then, out of nowhere, a call for action was sent out to all pilots. Two people were missing and DroneUp was there to help find them. They already had the pilots that they needed but they needed more people to analyze the images and report back with any abnormalities to help narrow down search areas.
The whole experience was very well organized and professional. You could opt in or out and, once you opted in, you received your assigned image(s) to inspect. Communication was easy and DroneUp kept all of the pilots up to date with where things were in the search effort.
All in all I felt that DroneUp and, through my affiliation as a pilot that opted in to help, I really made a difference and allowed the search to be conducted in a professional manner much faster and more thorough than traditional methods would allow for. This experience really got me hooked to the whole DroneUp community. It was nice to actually use my skills (even if I wasn’t flying) to help others with no expectation of monetary compensation (a true volunteer moment).
As of this writing, DroneUp offers two free training courses on their website:
- Responsible Community Pilot – This one is aimed at the hobbyist user and will help you to become a responsible community pilot by teaching you to fly your drone safely and responsibly.
- Part 107 Prep Course and Practice Exam – This is the one I refer to in my Get the FAA Drone License – Make Money Legally With Your Mavic post and is well worth your time if you’re thinking of going for your FAA 107 certificate. this course will help you pass the 107 test.
They also offer two pay-for courses:
- UAS Night Operations – This course presents the physiological effects associated with night flying to better prepare you to be ready for night flight.
- UAS Public COA Application Process (CAPS) – The course is meant to provide a background understanding of the process that a public agency must go through to obtain a Certificate of Authorization (COA) or Waiver.
So you’ve already read about my first experience with DroneUp in the Public Safety section of this post. Now let me tell you about my first for-profit experience with them (as alluded to in the Consulting and Commercial Services section).
I was just sitting at home when, out of the blue, DroneUp contacted me with missions in my area. They told me there were a few missions about an hour away that they wanted to get done ASAP. I work from home and have a flexible schedule so this was not an issue for me. As usual, I’m always game for making money with my drone so I accepted the missions.
What I found really cool about DroneUp was how prepared they are when they have a mission for you. It’s pre-programmed. You literally download the mission and click go. Their rep stayed on the phone with me and explained it all as I went through the steps. For these missions they got the airspace clearance (notified the nearby air tower), and tried to obtain the insurance but their system hit a snag so I obtained it individually and they reimbursed me for it.
All I had to do was keep line-of-sight (LOS) and be ready to take control should something go wrong. These particular missions had several different elements to them from a few orthogonal runs over fields to some 360 panoramics from various angles.
I did run into one issue where I had to cancel a mission and restart it and that was my fault for not putting my tablet on airplane mode and I received a call on it during the mission. These missions would have taken less than half a day to complete if it weren’t for one small issue. I didn’t have enough batteries. I only had the fly more combo so that meant I was doing this with just three batteries. Because of this I probably added two to two and a half hours to this set of missions as I swapped batteries and placed the used ones on the charger for the next flight. I took the down time opportunity to grab lunch.
It should be noted that a 20 megapixel camera is preferred for such missions so don’t expect a Mavic Pro to cut it. There are exceptions to this, as was the case for me with my Mavic Pro, but, in general, the type of mission I ran expects a better camera.
The most surprising part of this was how much the missions were worth to me, the pilot. I won’t give you the dollar details but let’s just say it put me well on the way to getting a Phantom 4 Pro 2.0 and all for what should have been less than half a day’s work and much better than what I’ve come to expect from DroneBase. You can view my DroneBase – Make a Little Money on the Side post for more information.
All in all I have to say the experience was pleasant and I look forward partnering with DroneUp for future missions.
Well there you have it, my impression and review of DroneUp from various angles. It’s a great community offering not only pay-for services but training and opportunities to volunteer and help communities. Unlike many other platforms, they pay their pilots well and foster a sense of community.
If you’re looking to volunteer, offer your services or make some money, do yourself a favor and become a pilot for DroneUp. I think you’ll like it. At the very least, check out the website and see for yourself.
Don’t forget to grab their app for your phone or tablet:
Do you have experience with DroneUp? Do you know of other companies offering similar services? Did I not cover something you wanted to see? Comment below and let me know. I read and respond to each and every post.