Drone applications have gotten more sophisticated, easier to use, and more plentiful. They’ve also become more focused on the commercial market: offering flight planning, flight information, flight insurance, and seamless integration into data packages that help operators deliver a professional package to their clients. Here are 5 drone apps that professional drone operators should know.
#1. AirMap. AirMap provides flight planning intelligence – and real time situational awareness – for pilots. The app provides information about flight restrictions, both permanent and temporary, as well as changes in the weather. It also provides real time information about traffic – notifying operators when manned aircraft trajectories cause a likely conflict. Most interesting, AirMap attempts to solve a huge problem for commercial operators with their Digital Notice and Awareness System™ (D-NAS) which allows operators to communicate with airports to notify them of flight plans. The system has been implemented by over 125 airports, and is expanding rapidly.
#2. Airnest. Airnest offers “simple flight logging and analytics” for drones. The app has long been a favorite of DJI pilots, but has now moved into the commercial market. The “Plan” tool offers users the ability to intuitively plan flights; but perhaps more important for commercial pilots is the cloud-based flight logging functionality. Flight logs that provide useful data on flight metrics including altitude, speed, location, and battery performance allow pros to learn about their drones’ performance and allow quicker diagnosis of potential problems. The ability to share flight logs with colleagues provides a boon to both pilots and managers of larger drone operations.
#3. DroneDeploy. DroneDeploy pulls it together for commercial drone operators offering drone mapping for their customers. A world leader in drone mapping platforms, DroneDeploy has established a broad list of partnerships – including integration with Airmap and Airnest, above. “DroneDeploy simplifies every stage of the drone mapping process—allowing businesses to focus on customers first,” says Mike Winn, DroneDeploy’s CEO. “Download the DroneDeploy app to plan automated flights, process and analyze imagery, and export maps and models for instant access to aerial insights anywhere, anytime.” This is a professional app that doesn’t just make the operation easier, but helps operators produce a polished, branded deliverable. DroneDeploy is designed to be “part of your day-to-day workflow to drive better business decisions – and ultimately deliver a more professional product to your customers,” says Winn.
#4. DronePan. For commercial operators offering photography services, DronePan takes pictures designed to be stitched together into a 360 degree panoramic view. The app is compatible with DJI Phantom 3, Phantom 4, Inspire 1, Inspire 2 or Mavic Pro drones. Hit the play button on the app, and DronePan will take 20 photos – in less than 2 minutes – at the necessary yaw and pitch for creating a panoramic view. The company recommends stitching programs PT Gui and Auto Pano Pro to complete the process. The app is currently only available for iOS devices but an Android version is currently in Beta.
#5. Verifly. If you haven’t heard of precision insurance yet, you are hearing it now. In an amazingly short span of time – the company was founded in 2015 – Verifly has become an industry leader in liability insurance for drones, especially in the professional market. “Verifly is the standard for commercial operators who want insurance that works the way they do,” says Verifly CEO, Jay Bregman. “Verifly is both universal and usage-based, and lets them pass on their costs to customers via our unique per-job pricing.” Download the Verifly app and apply for insurance for your particular job – for only a few hours, or for a longer period of time – at that particular location. The model allows customers to feel that they are paying only for the liability insurance that their job requires. Drone operators aren’t paying for liability insurance while they aren’t flying. The app also allows commercial operators to bypass the hassle of applying for a larger policy with an agent.
As the drone industry expands, the complexity of drone operation – as well as the things that the technology can provide – is also expanding. These apps, and the many being created every day, are helping operators to increase productivity without increasing the work.
Miriam McNabb is the CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. She writes for DRONELIFE on current news, financial trends, and FAA regulations. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.