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What does the compliance wave in the drone industry hold for drone operators?

There have been huge advances in drone technology in recent years, but what does the future hold for pilots dealing with clients who are increasingly concerned about protecting themselves and their brand?

I’ve been flying a drone commercially since 2013. It was a heavy lift Cinestar and we flew Alexas, BlackMagic cameras, 5D’s, Gh4’s, and any other box we could strap to our Movi gimbal. At the time, the equipment, peripherals, licenses and insurance were a huge financial commitment. From the beginning, we struggled with other drone operators who weren’t licensed or insured and had less overhead as a result, quoting on jobs at half the standard day rate. It was difficult to compete and incredibly frustrating that nobody seemed to be doing anything about it.

To this day you can go to nearly any pilot forum and read their rantings (rightly so) of how hard it is to compete with illegal operators… always searching for the proper enforcement tool to prosecute them and protect the industry.

In my opinion, it’s not only about illegal operators but also about illegal operations. On more than one occasion I have been tempted to break the rules at the request of a client in order to get paid for my day’s work – so let’s be honest – even licensed operators can flaunt regulation and limits and put their insurance and their client at risk. So everyone has been searching for the right ‘stick’ to beat back this multifaceted problem.

I don’t think the ‘stick’ is the way to go. What we need is a ‘carrot’ approach.
 Steven Flynn, Skytango CEO

I’ve worked in film and television for 30 years, and I’ve spent a lot of my time in edit suites making sure music, photos, location releases and talent releases were always in order before a show went to air, or I’d have the legal team on my back. So after a career of risk mitigation (for want of a better description) I never understood why, as a drone pilot, clients would expect me to rock up in the streets of Dublin City Center and launch my heavy lift drone without permissions from the local land authority as well as having ATC clearance.

It seemed obvious to me that if a broadcaster or video client would care about having the rights to use a music track or a stock photo in their piece for fear of litigation, they would care if the drone footage they were using was legally acquired too – right?

Well, they do now! Partly because they are more educated around drone use and partly because of changing laws around privacy and data protection.

Last year we approached several large stock libraries highlighting a problem we saw coming down the tracks and while they concurred that it would eventually be an issue – none were willing to leap into that space of certified drone footage, as it seemed a slow train, laden with uncertain regulation and lack of enforcement.

Six months after we first knocked on the door of Pond5 to talk about the need for certified aerial footage, amid rumblings of drone output being audited by authorities and the buyers of illegally acquired content facing fines (monitoring the demand to control the supply), they called us back and said they had begun to see a change in their customers’ needs. They wanted to offer aerial footage they knew was legally acquired (in other words that the pilot followed all the rules), and were willing to sell at a higher premium for that assurance. Why? Well, we’re back to my old edit suite friend – risk mitigation!

The end user needs to be protected, especially if said end-user has deep corporate pockets if you catch my drift. No longer is it enough to fly your drone anytime, anywhere and sell those stunning aerials to anyone who’ll buy them or post them on social media channels (in many cases with illegal music)… you also want to prove that they were legally acquired.

Enter DRM – Drone Rights Management!

I’ve traveled the world in the last 14 months speaking at drone conferences and events and everywhere I’ve listened to the same story from angry pilots who are still competing with illegal operators pushing rates down and making it hard to earn a living doing a highly skilled job in a regulated space.

‘DRM’, or ‘Digital Rights Management’ (the licensing of music, movies and images for broadcast across multiple channels) is now, for the first time, coined here for our industry – ‘Drone Rights Management’.  And it’s going to change the industry for the better.

No longer will pilots have to worry about competing with illegal operators or operations, as content buyers will soon insist on a certificate to accompany their work – to cover their backs! This is what Skytango has been working toward since our inception. Today, we are thrilled to announce the first portal for pilots to upload their aerial work along with appropriate certifications and warranties. Pond5 is our launch library and is now aggregating this content via the Skytango platform to offer it to their global client base.

In the coming months, Pond5 will officially launch the industry’s first certified content product, allowing pilots to earn more money BECAUSE they fly legally.  And remember, that also includes unlicensed operators gathering content in areas where you don’t need to be licensed to fly commercially.

I’d say that’s a pretty large carrot in the right direction. We have always believed that the best way to advance this industry is to offer incentives – where everyone benefits, rather than regulation and policing alone.

So, slowly I am seeing a sea change. Broadcasters and content buyers alike are becoming more and more educated about the process and complexity of flying drones. They are beginning to ask the right questions and are starting to see the inherent risks in using content that wasn’t legally obtained. Technology is advancing so fast that safety concerns around flying these machines are being addressed on a constant basis.

The bigger issue today is around Data Protection and Privacy. The approach of GDPR in Europe will make audit trails a necessity in this industry and I have no doubt the rest of the world will follow suit.

We would like to acknowledge Pond5 for being an early adopter in this area, and we look forward to rolling out many more services in the coming months. We’re truly excited by the pace of change and the opportunities it presents across our industry

Thank you to everyone who has supported us and stayed with us on this journey.  We are here for the long haul and look forward to working with you in the future.

Steven Flynn
Licensed Drone Pilot, Skytango Founder & CEO

Steve Flynn is a multiple Emmy Award-winning Director of Photography, Director and Editor. He has worked with many major broadcast companies including PBS, CBS, HGTV, Discovery, BBC, RTE and even spent time working with Prince at Paisley Park. He has been a licensed drone pilot since 2013 and is the Founder and CEO of Skytango

The post Stick or Carrot? Incentivising Drone Compliance In The Marketplace appeared first on Skytango.

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DJI released Zenmuse X7, its latest camera offering for use in the drone market. Weighing in with a light 449g (1lb) body, this impressive camera packs an exciting suite of features.

With the pace of advances in drone tech increasing over the last number of years, the imaging world has had to skip smartly to keep up.

And with UAVs getting ever more compact, issues of weight & balance have become a huge consideration for pilots looking to sell their content in a competitive market.

In the recently released Zenmuse X7, DJI offers a lightweight, compact unit that delivers an impressive quality product for a camera of any size, but the quality of image it can produce is enough to make the mouth of even the most demanding editor water.

So how have they done it? I’m going to have a look through the specs of the Zenmuse X7 and try to translate some of the science in a relatable way and hopefully walk you through the highlights:

Impressive specs for its size to performance ratio

Let’s start with an overview of the specs of the Zenmuse X7:

  • Dimensions: 151 × 108 × 132 mm
  • Weight (Body only): 449g
  • 6k video, up to 24mp stills

Built to work in harmony with the Inspire 2 drone, the camera comes in at only 631 grams (1.4 lbs) when fitted with the 16mm 2.8 lens, giving you a flight time of approximately 23 minutes.

This is quite a lightweight body in comparison to most offerings in this category, but admittedly not as light as some of the compact action cameras on the market. However, there is a huge difference in image quality when you account for things such as the lens for a start, but we’ll get on to the lens in a moment.

Hi resolution recording

“The Zenmuse X7 offers everything professional content creators need to make their aerial footage as stunning and vivid as they demand,”

says Paul Pan, senior product manager at DJI.

The Zenmuse X7 uses a Super 35 CineCore 2.1 sensor that has amazing sensitivity, giving you an impressive 14 stops of dynamic range and really smooth shadow details when shooting in low light conditions.

It’s capable of capturing up to 6k video, and a new DJI Cinema Colour System (DCCS) renders stunning tones & depth across the spectrum.

6K resolution is pretty phenomenal visually. Now, I know you’re thinking that the consumer market is still trying to fill out with 4k screens and it might take a while before 6k becomes mainstream.

Realistically, however, many productions are already shooting in 6k with Netflix for example, producing some of their ‘Originals’ in 6k keeping up with box office features such as The Avengers, The Revenant, and Transformers who also chose this format but even they are playing catch up with features like Guardians of the Galaxy Vo. 2 shot in 8k using RED’s Vista Vision Camera.

As a stills photographer who has been shooting RAW files for as long as they’ve been available, I can firmly attest to the saying that “It’s better to have & not need than to need & not have”.

Even if you’re not outputting your product in 6k the benefits of having the information there to draw from and to manipulate are nearly endless.

The extra dynamic range is certainly visible when comparing the colour saturation and noise in the upper and lower ranges when shooting in 6k.

Versatile Zenmuse X7 colour space

Zenmuse X7 is an ideal camera for cinematographers and professional photographers alike from a colour perspective.

“For the Zenmuse X7, we took our colour science to the next level, we consulted the world leading authorities in colour science, Technicolor. With their guidance, our engineers developed an optimized gamma curve for the X7 allowing more latitude without sacrificing image quality.”

says Paul Pan, Senior Product Manager at DJI.

DCCS features a new D-Log Curve and D-Gamut RGB colour space to give more flexibility and colour options during the post-production process.

The D-Log Curve further extends the dynamic range, while the D-Gamut RGB colour space preserves more colour information to support the most demanding filmmaking scenarios, providing accurate colour for quick and easy post-processing.

To meet the rigorous requirements of professionals, the Zenmuse X7 captures the highest image resolutions ever for an integrated drone camera.

It is capable of shooting 6K CinemaDNG RAW or 5.2K Apple ProRes at up to 30 FPS, as well as 3.9K CinemaDNG RAW or 2.7K ProRes at up to 59.94 FPS to integrate seamlessly into industry-standard post-production workflows.

Lens availability

There are four prime lenses available for this body. 16mm, 24mm, 35mm & 50mm, all F2.8 Aspherical lenses and offering resolutions of up to 8K. Made of ultra-lightweight carbon fibre, having this range of lenses in your bag should have you covered no matter what you’re shooting.

Another nice feature is the impressive range of sensitivity. The ISO ranges from 100 – 25600 for stills, and 100 – 6400  for video at its maximum 6k setting.

Shutter speeds from 8s – 1/8000s using the electronic shutter, and 8s – 1/1000s using the mechanical shutter allows you to play with either end of the scale, either dragging your shutter or capturing fast-moving action without motion interference.

Price & availability

DJI began shipping the X7 in November, with a $2,699 price tag in the U.S. The lenses will be available for $1,299 each, with the exception of the $1,199 50mm lens.

A complete prime lens kit will also be on offer for $4,299.

You can find the full list of specs and FAQ’s on the Zenmuse X7 on the official DJI product page.

Would I buy the Zenmuse X7?

This is a well-built piece of equipment that deserves to be considered for that list of things to buy when you feel you’ve earned a treat or need to upgrade. The price range is not unreasonable for the spec on offer.

It is compact and comparatively lightweight, and the range of available lenses will satisfy most creative visions.

It is, however, the quality that swings it for me. It feels a little like the first steps from the old digital sensor in SLRs to the world of full frame sensors.

The richness of colour and depth of detail and clarity in both the highlights and shadows paired with phenomenal optics, promise to deliver a quality product that will satisfy the most demanding of clients.

DJI - Zenmuse X7 Showreel - YouTube

The post Zenmuse X7 Lands On The Drone Market With A Touch Of Class appeared first on Skytango.

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Drones are being used increasingly for emergency services, but how can emergency services leverage and safely deploy such technology?

This week Skytango hosts a special guest post by Anna Jackman, Lecturer at Royal Holloway University, on the reasons why drones are increasingly being employed as tools by emergency service responders.

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), or drones, as the platforms are more commonly known, are the technology of the moment.

Drones are increasingly being employed in a growing range of hobbyist, commercial, and civilian roles, with their potential domestic applications considered “as diverse as the platforms themselves”.

This sentiment is reflected in the growing popularity and accessibility of commercially available off-the-shelf drones, used recreationally by hobbyists, with estimates that approximately 200,000 platforms being sold per month globally.

Furthermore, in a recent report, professional services giant Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), proposed that the global market for the commercial applications of drones, spanning: infrastructure, transport, insurance, media, telecommunication, agriculture and mining industries, could be valued at over $127 billion by 2020.

Lastly, drones are increasingly being enrolled in a range of civilian applications. Referring to those applications which are neither commercial nor recreational, drones have been employed as tools for humanitarian, disaster, and emergency service response.

The latter will be the focus of this piece.

DJI’s report on lifesaving drone operations

In profiling the ways in which drones have been employed as tools to both “save and protect human life” in emergency situations to-date, leading drone manufacturer DJI this year released a report entitled ‘Lives Saved: A Survey of Drones in Action’.

Opening with the assertion that drones allow first responders to

“accomplish tasks faster, more efficiently, at a lower cost, and in many cases more safely than in the past,”

the report reviews 18 incidents in which drones were deployed by emergency services professionals or members of the public in assistance of such operations.

Together, these actions were associated with saving 59 lives.

New report from DJI says at least 59 lives have been saved by civilian drones, 38 of those lives within the last 10 months. #drones4good pic.twitter.com/meV7o6BjvF

— Drone360 (@Drone360blog) March 14, 2017

In these instances, drones were used in both search and rescue (SAR) and supply delivery capacities, with the report concluding that SAR may be the most effective use of lifesaving drones.

EENA and DJI’s partnership

In making this claim, DJI turned to further research undertaken in collaboration with the European Emergency Number Association (EENA), in which the organizations worked with emergency services teams in the UK, Ireland, Denmark, and Iceland in order to evaluate potential use cases for drones, assess challenges, and develop recommendations therein.

#Drones & emergency services: Take a look at the final report of the EENA/@DJIGlobal joint project https://t.co/JnUDrPr7Mm #dronesforgood pic.twitter.com/dWbHl7tfe5

— EENA112 (@112_sos) November 21, 2016

Drawing upon the results of 60 call-outs in which the drone was deployed (those spanning: missing persons, fire, possible suicide, crowd safety, bomb threats, fuel and/or chemical spillages, fishing vessels adrift, animal rescue, and light aircraft crashes), the research concluded that whilst often not designed explicitly for such roles, drones have been used to:

  • quickly locate missing persons (covering a 1km² area within 20 minutes)
  • provide a valuable aerial perspective facilitating safe operations for both crews and members of the public
  • in the detection of “hot spots” through the use of thermal imaging cameras.

Given such advantages, both interest in and the deployment of drones by emergency services is growing.

In the UK, for example, while the West Midlands Fire Service were the first to operationally deploy the platforms in 2007, the number of operational forces using or planning to use drones, notably jumped to two thirds of fire services, and half of police forces in 2016, as Sky News reported.

In this vein, Sussex Police are now operating the largest drone project in the UK (comprised of 5 drones and 40 trained operators), with Devon and Cornwall Police following suit with the announcement of the “first 24-hour drone unit in the UK”.

The Skybound Rescuer Project

Despite the growing interest in the drone as an emergency services tool – Gemma Alcock of The Skybound Rescuer Project, an organization founded to bring clarity to educate the search and rescue community about the value of drones, notes that many of the drones marketed to the emergency services sector have simply been “transferred” to this market with little or no adaptation, rather than being designed specifically for it.

The Skybound Rescuer Project, then, has stepped up – seeking to provide resources and action plans to get SAR drones airborne. In highlighting the importance of this goal, The Skybound Rescuer team released this video, demonstrating their vision of the drone as a rescue tool.

Life Saving - The Future! - YouTube

Attending the Rescue Drone Awareness Course

Seeking to roll this out, The Skybound Rescuer Project has introduced a ‘Rescue Drone Awareness’ course.

Running their first course on 6th April 2017 at Popham Airfield in Hampshire, I was lucky enough to be in attendance.

Bringing together participants from UK Fire and Rescue, Search and Rescue, and the Police, this training course was billed as “a one-day workshop for managers and tacticians to gain an understanding of this rapidly emerging new technology “.

Thanks to all delegates who attended our first rescue drone awareness course yesterday! #TheyBecameRescueDroneAware @Flood_Fighters pic.twitter.com/71yuLuXNZ5

— SkyBound Rescuer (@skyboundrescuer) April 7, 2017

It aimed at equipping participants with an understanding of how to evaluate or plan for the purchase of a small drone and the associated equipment, what questions to ask manufacturers ahead of purchase or lease, and what training and regulatory requirements are applicable therein.

The course was a fast-paced and intensive foray through the contemporary civilian drone landscape, covering: terminology, drone categorisation, tailored capability reviews, a technical overview of payload features and capabilities, regulatory requirements, best practice and risk mitigation, factors impacting and limiting operations, and key questions for practitioners to pose to manufacturers ahead of purchasing or leasing a drone.

As pictured, the course also included a live-flying demonstration, allowing participants to see the drone in action, as well as understanding the necessary steps prior to becoming airborne.

Photo credit: Anna Jackman

In participating in this course, what struck me was the preparation necessitated in realizing a future in which the drone is a “welcome addition to the emergency service toolkit”.

Recognizing the value of drones in emergency services

That said, the value of such platforms to the emergency services is increasingly being recognized.

This can be evidenced by both the dramatic increase in the use of drones in a range of short-term emergencies and disaster response situations globally, as highlighted in Up in the Air: A Global Estimate of Non-Violent Drone Use 2009-2015, book published by the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies – University of San Diego.

It’s also evidenced by the growing partnerships forming between commercial parties and the emergency services sector, including:

The emergency services sector, then, appears to be living up to its European Commission designation as a key civilian UAV application market.

What emergency services should watch over

As has been widely noted within the sector, however, strides forward remain bound to legitimate concerns that surround drone usage more widely.

As is frequently documented in the media, drones are associated with risk: whether through close-calls with manned aircraft, their enrolment in inappropriate surveillance, unsafe flights, irresponsible stunts, or as platforms utilised in the illegal transportation of contraband.

As such, there remains an ongoing tension between the drone as both, simultaneously, an operational resource and a potentially recklessly or maliciously-employed commercially-available device.

In an environment in which the drone can be viewed negatively then, it remains particularly important for emergency services seeking to leverage and safely deploy such technology to adhere to and challenge the limits of relevant regulation, develop and implement best practice protocol, conduct risk assessment and mitigation, clearly demarcate their platforms and operational sites, and engage with the community and public more widely in showcasing this potentially lifesaving technology.

Dr Anna Jackman, the author of the above article, is a Lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research has involved fieldwork with a range of drone users, regulators, and industry practitioners. Anna is interested in understanding both how and why different operational communities deploy drones, as well as the mechanisms through which the platforms are governed and sold more widely. She can be contacted via Twitter @ahjackman.

The post Drones For Emergency Services: Use and Value appeared first on Skytango.

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How do you choose a camera drone? What should you look out for? Get great tips for beginners in this article (plus infographic) from videographer and drone enthusiast Paul Archer.

This week Skytango hosts a special guest post by Paul Archer, photographer, drone enthusiast and founder of DronesGator.com, on how to pick a camera drone.

There are many ways to get yourself into the hobby of flying and taking beautiful imagery along the way and then graduating to flying and shooting professionally.

But if you want to do it right and not lose a bunch of money in the process…you better take some notes.

I’ve not only been in your shoes but also made a lot of mistakes along the way!  But what’s more important is that you know the basic principles of what makes a good camera drone.

The infographic below will illustrate in more detail what I’m talking about (you also have the option of checking out my top 10 camera drones right away).

Before taking a look at the infographic, here’s a brief rundown on what I find most important of all:

Battery life

Obviously important for staying long enough in the air to capture the shots you want.

  • The battery life of 20+ minutes in some good camera drones listed below is usually good enough, but if that’s not enough, you can always get a second battery.
  • In my experience as a wedding videographer, I had to just wait in the air a couple of minutes for everyone to gather for a picture or for the brides to get out of the church. Having enough battery life was life-saving.
Flight modes

These are a great help if you are a novice pilot and will allow you to do very precise flight programming that will turn out amazing videos.

As underlined in the infographic, my favourite modes are

  • Waypoints
  • Point of Interest
  • Course Lock.

The image you can capture simply rotating around an object is way more impressive than it sounds.

Camera quality and resolution

The drones we’re talking about are really flying cameras, so this should be a very important topic.

  • Image stabilization is of great importance, be it in the form of a gimbal or electronic stabilization (I prefer gimbal)
  • In terms of resolution, I almost always shoot in 2.7k, which I find to be the perfect balance between the detail-lacking Full HD and the hard-to-edit 4k.
  • Sensor size and lens quality can make or break your shot, especially when talking about low light situations. So, first, check out some YouTube comparisons between the ones you like.

Less talking, more doing!

So here’s the promised infographic with some actual real-life drone examples that in my experience just work:

Paul Archer is a passionate videographer and drone enthusiast who dedicates a lot of time creating useful quadcopter articles on DronesGator.com

The post How To Pick A Camera Drone (Plus A Complete Infographic Guide) appeared first on Skytango.

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Drone Pilot Ground School recently launched a scholarship to support U.S. high school students who want to become certified commercial drone pilots.

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics or STEM, is a curriculum, based on the idea of educating students in four specific disciplines in an often ‘hands-on’ approach.

The High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots provides free access to Drone Pilot Ground School, a leading remote test prep course for the FAA’s Part 107 exam, and will also pay for Part 107 test fees (up to $150) for the first 100 students to take the test.

The idea for the scholarship first came from Alan Perlman, CEO and founder of Drone Pilot Ground School, and Matt Ernst, founder of the Taft Drone Club at the Robert A.Taft Information Technology High School in Cincinnati, Ohio.

The Taft Drone Club uses drones for education, and has recently received a grant for $100,000 from the state of Ohio to support his efforts in STEM education using drones.

This new, first of its kind scholarship for high school students aims at supporting young people trying to break into the drone industry while also helping spread the use of drones in STEM education.

“We know the drone industry has the potential for creating new jobs for young people, and can help students get excited about STEM subjects. Providing a scholarship to interested, qualified high school students just seemed like a natural outgrowth of the support we’ve given the students at Taft High.”

said Perlman.

One of the primary motivators for Matt Ernst forming his club was to offer his students opportunities for making a good living. As drones get cheaper – with plenty of mini-drones under $100 to try out and learn on, and prosumer models selling for under $5,000 – and as drone applications proliferate, the potential for high school students to create a foundation for future careers in the drone industry seems strong to him.

More and more, drones are being used to help students learn – and get excited about – STEM subjects in middle, high, and even elementary school

Across the U.S. drones have become a part of robotics classes, coding classes, and even lessons on longitude and latitude. New platforms like DroneBlocks actually provide curricula materials for educators who want to use drones in the classroom, and drone manufacturers like Parrot have launched specialized educational programmes based on drones.

The drone industry itself is growing, and there promises to be new jobs on the horizon for drone pilots who hold a remote pilot license, from aerial cinematography to work in agriculture, forestry, mapping, and much more (even if a recent survey by Skylogic Research debunked the media hype about drones, showing for example that 75% of aerial business providers in the U.S. perform one to five projects only per month).

About the Scholarship

The High School STEM Scholarship for Aspiring Commercial Drone Pilots was launched to support high school students ages 16 and up who are serious about becoming certified drone pilots by helping them prepare for the FAA’s Part 107 test.

An additional goal is to help further the use of drones in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education.

Scholarship recipients get free access to Drone Pilot Ground School‘s remote test prep course for the FAA’s Part 107 test (value of $299), and the first 100 students to take the test will have their test fee covered (up to $150), for a total value of approximately $450.

Who’s eligible?

Eligible students must:

  • Be at least 16 years old
  • Be currently enrolled in high school
  • Live in the U.S.
How many students can apply?

There is an unlimited number of scholarships available, but only the first 100 students accepted will also have their Part 107 testing fee covered.

What is the deadline?

There is no deadline – applicants will be accepted on a rolling, case-by-case basis.

You can apply directly on the scholarship page.

The post Drone Pilot Ground School Launches STEM Scholarship for High School Students appeared first on Skytango.

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The FAA has granted a waiver to CNN allowing the media company to fly drones over crowds, covering public assemblies to a height of 150 feet (45 meters).

The first of its kind to allow untethered flight to this degree, this waiver is the product of two years of research by CNN and its partner Vantage Robotics who established their case for safety with the FAA.

CNN is one of the most innovative media companies using drones for journalism and newsgathering. In 2016, they even established a dedicated drone unit to fully integrate aerial imagery and reporting across their networks and platforms.

The “Reasonableness Approach” developed by CNN and Vantage Robotics established conditions whereby a number of factors were taken into account before the FAA granted the waiver. These factors include the operators safe history of use, safety features of the craft and exhaustive test data, as CNN explains in their press release.

“We are pleased that Vantage was able to work with CNN to present and establish the safety case for the Snap to the FAA”,

said Tobin Fisher, CEO of Vantage Robotics.

The waiver to Part 107 (Small Unmanned Aircraft Regulations) applies to the use of the Vantage Snap UAS, a frangible, 1.37-pound aircraft designed specifically with crowd safety in mind.

CNN Uses Vantage Robotics’ Snap Drone to Win FAA Fly-Over-People Waiver https://t.co/5L6tJvlXEd pic.twitter.com/fOSg8wv1Om

— Automaton (@AutomatonBlog) October 19, 2017

Here is sample footage in 4K shot with the Vantage Snap:

Straight Outta Snap - 4K Sample Footage from Vantage Robotics - YouTube

While the Vantage Snap is limited in its use at the moment, this decision could spell the beginning of a new regulatory trend within the industry.

Former US presidential advisor and attorney Lisa Ellman of Hogan Lovells, the firm that represented CNN in the waiver application process, has been working hard in the last few years to develop legislation allowing commercial use of drones.

She believes this new legislation could have broader implications within the industry:

“CNN’s new waiver represents a very important development for the commercial drone industry at large. The FAA’s willingness to approve reasonable waiver requests is a strong step in the right direction as we seek to bring the benefits of commercial drones to the American people.”,

commented Ellman on Unmanned Aerial.

Ellman is a strong advocate of commercial drone use in the U.S. and feels U.S. legislation still has a way to go before the industry can catch up with countries like Japan, which has allowed the commercial use of drones for the past 20 years already.

In a broader sense, this regulatory step has the potential to bring the plans of companies such as Amazon, eBay and even regular delivery companies closer to fruition.

So what might this mean for the smaller, independent drone pilots? Well, probably not a whole lot just yet as this reasonableness approach puts a lot of weight on the user’s track record.

However, with the stock industry and other end users of drone footage increasingly demanding the footage they purchase be accompanied by full documentation and legal permissions, it won’t be long before pilots will earn their reputations for safety and compliance.

Exciting times. Watch this space.

The post First Of Its Kind Waiver Allows CNN To Fly Drones Over Crowds appeared first on Skytango.

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Grab your coupon to submit your drone film for free to CinéDrones, a festival showcasing the best of aerial cinematographers worldwide.

As the popularity of drone film festivals grows with events popping up globally, there is one drone film festival that owns the ‘first in Europe’ title – CinéDrones International Film Festival.

Debuting in 2015, the CinéDrones International Film Festival has gone from strength to strength with the first two editions receiving in excess of 1000 recorded films from 30 countries worldwide!

CinéDrones is now in its third edition and will take place on November 17th & 18th, 2017 in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles, a lovely town close to Bordeaux, France. We are proud sponsors of this great initiative, providing the winners of CinéDrones with Pro memberships to Skytango.

Organized by Bordeaux Technowest and Athenium Films, CinéDrones shines a light on the best creations from around the globe that have enriched their work with the use of flying cameras!

This year the event is planning to keep up the momentum with participants having 11 different categories to choose from including special categories specifically for submissions in Japanese and from women.

Honorary President of CinéDrones International Film Festival is César Award winner and French actor and producer, Christopher Lambert who starred in over 70 movies including the blockbuster Highlander.

Cinema star Christopher Lambert is also passionate about aviation and about new technologies. He has been Honorary President of CinéDrones since the first edition of the festival in 2015.

Aerials captured with the use of a UAV must account for at least 30% of the completed video submitted. The categories are as follows:

  • Shorts
  • Feature Film, TV & Series
  • News & Documentary
  • Sports & Adventure
  • Heritage & Nature
  • Advertising
  • Musical Video & Performing Arts
  • FPV & Freestyle
  • Worldwide Showreels Screening
  • CinéDrones by Fukuoka (Japanese Section)
  • CinéDrones by Women

The jury, which includes our own Susan Talbot, will host Orelsan, popular French rapper, songwriter, record producer, actor and film director as Jury President.

There are cash prizes up for grabs for the winners of each category with winners’ films also being screened throughout the festival. Companies of the likes of Parrot, GDF SUEZ group, and the French Professionnelle Federation Du Drone Civil have partnered with CinéDrones in the past editions of the event providing support and prizes.

Deadline for submissions is October 10, 2017. Fees for submissions received before Oct. 10th are $20 ($10 for students), while submissions received after the 10th but before the late deadline (October 30, 2017) are $30, but you can use the coupon code:


to get 100% off submissions to CinéDrones International Film Festival 2017. So get your video and start submitting before October 30th!

The festival itself takes place in Cinéma l’Etoile in the municipality of Saint-Médard-en-Jalles that lies about 12.5 kilometres north west of Bordeaux city centre.

Apart from the screening and the award ceremony, the 2-days event schedule also includes side activities. Practical masterclasses for drone operators and filmmakers interested in using drones, and panels debating different aspects of the drone industry will be held in different locations in Saint-Médard-en-Jalles. Check the CinéDrones website for details.

Find out more about CinéDrones:

Photo © CinéDrones International Film Festival

The post Submit Your Drone Film For Free To CinéDrones Festival With Skytango Coupon! appeared first on Skytango.

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Looking at the increase in the number of drone fines charged against illegal behavior by aviation authorities over the world, I see an emerging trend: more and more authorities are starting to prosecute unlawful drone operations.

While this is good news, many in the industry – as well as myself – feel that the authorities have been slow in enforcing. Why is that?

Well, most of the focus of the regulators to date has been on defining the legal framework of this new industry. How can you enforce if you don’t have a clear set of rules in place first?

Drones represent a revolutionary technology which is booming and being adopted across several verticals with new uses discovered almost every day. While the technology is ready and progresses at an amazing pace, regulators are chasing rather than anticipating this changing industry 

The problem was (and still is), setting the rules isn’t an easy task.

Even in countries where considerable efforts have been made so far in building a legal framework for safely integrating drones into airspace, regulators had to conciliate two different interests – sometimes conflicting: promoting safety and compliance and supporting the needs of the fast-growing drone industry.

Another factor complicating the regulatory efforts is that increased drone use raises several issues from a legal perspective.

Operating a drone involves different areas of law: privacy law, tort law, insurance law, civil aviation regulations, in particular, safety for people and manned aircraft.  On top of that, privacy is a trending topic in the past few months. 

The complexity of this task increases in countries where multiple authorities have input and control over some of the legal aspects related to hobbyist and commercial flying.

For example, in the U.S., a confusing crossover of federal, state and local regulations – the so-called patchwork quilt – is negatively impacting the industry’s development and the capacity of the authorities to focus on enforcement, as a recent research by the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College highlights. One of their key insights was that in several cases local drone laws contravene the FAA’s drone rules, resulting in legal conflicts.

Crossing the ocean, while the European Commission has started to draft a blueprint of a legal framework for operating drones, individual  EU member states still have the total decision-making power over drone regulations and legal prosecutions. While the Commission has put a lot of effort recently to standardize drone rules, analysts expect areas of conflict between the European framework and the state and local laws to emerge.

Another problem the aviation authorities have been struggling to deal with is the lack of resources specifically dedicated to managing drone registrations, complaints and reports of illegal or reckless operations.

Despite these difficulties, during the last couple of years, several countries managed to put a drone regulatory framework in place, and are switching their attention from setting the rules to enforcing them.

Moreover, drone regulation is not the concern of drone operators only. Their clients are requiring compliance as well to protect their own brands.

Content buyers have begun to understand that drone content must be acquired legally – like any other type of content such as music – if they don’t want to face the risks associated with illegal operations.

In some countries, regulators are enforcing on the buyers’ side too. For example, in the US, if you hire a drone operator who doesn’t hold a Part 107 allowing commercial operations, you could be facing federal charges as well.

If you are curious to read about some of the most significant cases involving prosecution for non-compliance, I compiled a list of 15 interesting drone fines from around the world, showing the increasing prosecution trend.

So whether you’re a drone operator looking to monetize your drone in a compliant way or whether you’re an aerial content buyer looking for legally acquired content, the website, droneregulations.info,  provides a straightforward overview of regulation by country. UAV Coach also offers an updated list of drone laws and regulations by country, making it impossible to feign ignorance of the rules.

The post Be Compliant, Drone Fines Are On The Rise! appeared first on Skytango.

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Women and Drones and Drone360 recently announced the 9 most influential women in the drone/UAS industry, winners of the 2017 Women To Watch in the UAS initiative.

Tuesday, August 29th was the date that the 2017 Women To Watch in UAS honourees were announced by Women and Drones and Drone 360 Magazine.

Women to Watch in the UAS Industry is promoted by the Women and Drones organization and Drone360 magazine. This initiative aims to raise the profile of women doing great work in the drone industry and to encourage more women to embrace UAS technology by supporting a group that remains underrepresented thus far.

Those considered for the honours included trailblazers, innovators, mentors, and business leaders in the drone and UAS industry with 110 nominations being received from seven countries worldwide. 

Our Skytango co-Founder Susan Talbot was on the judging panel.

The nine women selected for these honours have made astonishing strides in areas ranging from mapping to racing, education to entertainment. Inspiring women to get involved is the prime objective of Women and Drones. It’s no wonder the industry is growing so steadily with more and more female influencers getting on board to share their ideas.

Now that the dust has settled and we have all gotten busy with other things, we thought it was worth reminding you of the honourees and their extraordinary work. They fall under 9 different categories: Champion, Business, Education, Emerging, Entertainment & Culture, Global Trailblazer, Humanitarian, Influencer and Technology

The nine women honoured for the ‘Women To Watch in UAS’ are:

  • Mary Wohnrade (President/Owner of Wohnrade Civil Engineers) – Champion

Mary is heavily involved in the UAS industry in Colorado. She has developed a proprietary workflow to incorporate
UAS and engineering while working on other ways to expand their possibilities. She is extremely passionate about everything UAS so watch this space!

  • Natalie Cheung (UAV project manager, Intel) – Entertainment & Culture

Natalie is very much involved in the new form of entertainment that will have fire-work manufacturers worried!  Hailing from Santa Clara, CA, Cheung was one of the brains behind Intel’s Drone 500 which we covered in an article in late 2016 and is part of the revolution that is drone sky entertainment!

  • Holly Kasun (Co-Founder of Flybrix) – Business

Holly is appealing to the next generation of drone users with Flybrix, a crash-friendly, rebuildable drone kit made from LEGO bricks. Launched in 2016, Kasun raised $1.7million in funding in just 45 days. Go Flybrix! And Christmas is coming.

  • Gretchen West (Director at the Commercial Drone Alliance & Co-Founder of Women of Commercial Drones) – Influencer

Gretchen is a high profile and highly respected advocate for UAS technology.  She helps commercial drone end users understand the value and realize the benefit of drones by reducing barriers through advocacy and education. West, earlier on in the year, moderated a drone industry and regulation discussion at TieCon in which Skytango CEO Steve Flynn was involved!

  • Karen Joyce (Co-Founder of She Flies, Senior Lecturer in James Cook University) – Education

Karen co-founded She Flies, a drone training academy whose mission is to engage more girls and women with science and technology through the world of drones. She Flies hopes to expand their camps and educational programs beyond Australia very soon!

  • Catherine Ball (Co-Founder of World of Drones Congress & She Flies) – Global Trailblazer

Catherine is a start-up specialist working hard to build bridges, convene the UAS community, and advance innovative solutions in the UAS environment. The World Drone Congress, which debuted in Brisbane this August and at which our CEO Steven Flynn attended as a speaker, is the first major drone event to focus on the Asia-Pacific region. She Flies, which Catherine also cofounded, works to bring UAS and STEM learning to girls and women.

  • Lexie Janson (FPV Drone Racer, drone certification teacher and software developer) – Emerging

Through her tenacity and her sheer love of flying, Lexie has become a high profile racer and is working to raise the profile of drone racing. Dubbed “The First Lady of FPV in Poland” after a TV interview about drone technology, she travels the world to race, and actively encourages others to explore the sport.

  • Helena Samsioe (Founder and CEO of GLOBHE) – Humanitarian

As the boss of a humanitarian drone services company, Helena is leveraging drone capabilities to solve global problems, in particular, public health. She has worked on a UNICEF initiative to develop a humanitarian air corridor to deliver medical supplies in Malawi, and collaborates with other organizations to help heal through UAS tech.

  • Leah LaSalla (Technical Founder and CEO at Astral AR) – Technology

Intrigued with the combination of technologies that can deliver this experience, Leah started patenting and envisioning. She plans to apply this technology to wide-area search-and-rescue, disaster management, environmental remediation, public safety, and other drones-for-good activities. An added bonus: five of her company’s eight executives are women.

The judging panel was made up of three drone industry experts:

Wendy Erikson – Host of Women & Drones Podcast & Emmy award winning journalist & Part-107 certified pilot.

Sally French – The Drone Girl blog, named top 4 women shaping the drone industry by Forture magazine.

Susan Talbot – Skytango Co-Founder & COO & Emmy award winner with 25 years experience in film and TV production.

Congratulations to all involved and good luck with upcoming projects. You are incredible role models for our daughters (and sons!).

And if you are a woman working in the industry, don’t forget to check our list of 6 empowering actions for women in drones!

Images courtesy of Women and Drones.

The post 2017 Women To Watch in UAS List Announced By Women and Drones And Drone360 appeared first on Skytango.

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