Nick Osgood is the Director of Operations (and one of the first employees) for Dronebase, the prominent drone operator network.
What is the industry you see having the most traction from aerial data as a service in the next few years?
Since we’re only talking about a “few years”, from a DroneBase flight services perspective, we are seeing significant traction with enterprise customers that have nationwide distributed assets versus the localized/regional companies that can be serviced in-house (ex. Local construction company or realtor with a drone). The types of high volume flights that we focus on can easily be done by our network of pilots and typically take less than 1hr on site. Lastly, what we’ve done with opening up our API to enterprise clients allows us to ingest locations, check airspace and seamlessly dispatch and deliver back the assets back to the customer. This creates the stickiness that enterprises like.
From the software analytics perspective, most of the Venture Capital (VC) funding has gone into AEC (+$250mm) over the past 3-5 years. Unless we’re all wrong, I still expect AEC to be one of the largest verticals to get the most traction in a few years.
Depending on BVLOS, Ag can be a HUGE market, but also the customer base is relatively slow moving.
Are your drone-base pilots typically running small businesses as well as being Dronebase pilots, or do they focus purely on Dronebase work?
We have a variety of pilot personas with different backgrounds ranging from 1) full-time drone pilots that supplement their own drone business with additional DroneBase missions, 2) part-time drone pilots that have primary 9-5 jobs outside of drones but enjoy putting their Part 107 to work on weekends and 3) pilots that fully rely on DroneBase for supplemental income but don’t want to deal with the stress of running a business. It is very rare that we see independent drone pilots busy 100% of the time if their sole income is based on drone work.
Here is a blog post where we spotlight our pilots on a monthly basis:
What software for flight/processing etc drones sees the most use in the field by your pilots?
We have an iOS and Android app that allows our pilots to accept missions and fly manually; however we are agnostic to the flight tools that are pilots are using (especially if automation is needed). Some of our enterprise customers require us to use say, DroneDeploy, Hangar or Ground Station Pro, while others may require us to use an in-house tool built into the DJI SDK.
From a processing standpoint, there are many positives to all of the software solutions out there. I believe that there will be either a convergence over time among the drone analytics companies or an existing industry titan may just integrate drone imagery into their current solution.
Do you encourage your pilots to use any applications or tools for their workflows (such as Skyward, Kittyhawk, Airdata etc)?
We have in-house dashboards for pilots to manage their flights and we currently do not endorse any fleet management software; however we are built into the AirMap API for airspace and LAANC integration. Unless the pilot or company has a significant fleet, I’m not 100% sure if there is enough value in paying for some of these SaaS drone tools yet.
What was the impetus behind developing AR attachments for your pilots?
DroneBase wants to engage with as many pilots as possible by aiming to provide endless commercial and creative activities. We have created an augmented reality platform called AirCraft for hobbyist to build “Minecraft” like structures in the air. This deep tech was created to provide more engagement for all skill levels of pilots from professionals to hobbysist. We’ve seen pilots across the globe build signs, racecourses, cell towers for training and a variety of other structures. We are continuing to develop this technology and will be releasing professional use cases of Augmented Reality soon. This is what excites me the most because there is a ton of optionality that we can go with to support professional use cases with AR.