About Maestro

Drones help project manager save money, stay ahead of emerging issues, and salvage a subcontractor relationship on a $10 million project

We can all agree on one thing: drones bring a lot of value to a construction site. But it can be hard to conceptualize what that value looks like on a day-to-day basis — especially when you’re trying to sell a drone program internally to your colleagues.

At Key Construction, early efforts to create site-level buy-in for drone mapping led to significant results. A drone mapping project at a $10-million outdoor swimming and recreational facility helped a project manager stay ahead of emerging issues, saved thousands of dollars in survey costs, and ultimately salvaged a long-standing subcontractor relationship.


An orthomosaic map of a 23-acre swimming and recreation facility in Kansas. A project manager at Key Construction used drones to address drainage issues and hold a landscaping contractor accountable.

The Importance of Creating Early Buy-In at all Levels of a Construction Team

When Steven Wells introduced drones at Key Construction in July of 2017, he understood that for the technology to take hold, he needed to create buy-in not just from the top down, but also from the bottom up. In other words: he had to help site-level staff conceptualize drones in their day-to-day workflows.

“Until you get this stuff in your hands and start using it,” Steven says, “until you see the ROI on a project that you’ve been a part of, it’s hard to see the impact it can make.”

Through a series of lunch-and-learns, Steven introduced drone mapping technology to project managers and site engineers and talked about the ways drones are impacting other major construction companies around the country.

It wasn’t long before staff across the company began calling on Steven to create drone maps to solve problems, including two emerging issues at a 23-acre outdoor swimming and recreation facility in Kansas.


Drone map of a baseball field illustrates how landscaping subcontractor flew less than the required seeding passes.

Drone Map of Baseball Field Holds Landscaping Subcontractor Accountable

A landscaping subcontractor was hired to complete four passes of seeding on one of the facility’s baseball fields. But when the grass emerged in patches, the project manager suspected that the contractor, in a rush, had seeded less than the specs required. When confronted, the landscaper denied it.

The project manager needed a way to prove the patchy grass was the result of poor seeding, not just poor emergence. But from the ground, it was impossible to visualize the seeding pattern. He called Steven and asked if a drone map could help.


High-resolution drone map shows subcontractor seeded grass less than the required specs. It is even possible to see where he changed directions midfield.

The very next day, Steven mapped the baseball field. It was clear from the high-resolution orthomosaic maps that the subcontractor had seeded in two directions — not four — and with no particular method. It was even possible to see where he changed directions midfield.

Although it was too late in the fall to reseed the field before winter hit, the project manager used the information to develop a clear plan of action and get a commitment from the subcontractor to complete the job come spring.

The drone map helped site staff to stay ahead of the problem, but it also salvaged a relationship with the landscaping subcontractor, who up until seeing the drone map had relied on his employee’s word about the seeding job.

“You can lose somebody’s business for life over something like this,” says Steven. “When we gave him the evidence, it was a complete 180. It saved the relationship.”


Drone-generated elevation data, overlaid with AutoCAD files, helped troubleshoot drainage issues along baselines of this baseball field.

Drone-generated Elevation Data Helps Troubleshoot Drainage Issues

When drainage issues emerged along the baselines at a second baseball field at the recreation facility, drones again proved to be an essential tool.

Steven flew the field with ground control points (GCPs), then exported the elevation data into Autodesk Revit, where he measured the elevation differences between various points on the field. Steven completed this in just a few hours, without the need to hire a survey team — saving his team time and money in the process.*

Overlaying the drone data with the AutoCAD files of the original site plans, it was easy to see what was causing the drainage issues and how to fix them.

If they had called a surveying team to the site, it would have cost several thousand dollars. Instead, it took just two hours total to set the ground control points, map the site, and generate the overlay.

Key Construction uses DroneDeploy’s Enterprise Solution to Build a Company-wide Drone Program

Currently, two Key Construction staff are Part 107 certified. But the hope is to certify four or five more in-house drone pilots by the end of the year. “We just launched a superusers program for a few different technology initiatives that we’ve put forth. We’ve already had three or four guys ask about taking the test and getting certified,” said Steven.

Earlier this year, the company’s drone program took another significant step forward by signing on for DroneDeploy’s enterprise solution.

“Signing on to DroneDeploy’s enterprise solution was a huge step in expanding our in-house drone program. Now we can easily get this information out to our guys, and they have access to measurements, annotations, and everything that makes the platform useful.” — Steven Wells, Key Construction

About Key Construction


Steven Wells mapping the recreation facility project with an Inspire

Key Construction is an industry leader regularly recognized in the ENR Top 400 Contractors and as one of the fastest growing, high-quality contractors in the country, with offices in Wichita, Fort Worth, and Tulsa.

Steven Wells started his career at Key Construction as the Operations Technology Manager. In September, he transitioned to General Manager of the Dallas Fort Worth office. He was instrumental in developing the in-house drone program at the company.

Where to Learn More

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.

*Note: Because Key Construction’s map of the baseball field with drainage issues was used for internal reference only, it wasn’t necessary to have a surveyor sign off on the data. For more information about “survey grade” accuracy, see our post on accuracy in drone mapping.



Key Construction Sees Immediate Results After Launching Drone Program was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


DroneDeploy maps and 3D models give architecture team the tools to react collaboratively in the wake of a disaster

When a 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit central Mexico in the fall of 2017, much of Mexico City was left in chaos. To help the city move forward, emergency response teams, non-government organizations (NGOs), construction companies, and urban planners needed a system that would allow them to respond quickly with the best information. But how do you conceptualize over five hundred square miles of urban landscape?

DroneSky, a drone mapping company based in Mexico City, saw an opportunity in the midst of the chaos. Using DroneDeploy’s cloud-based drone mapping platform, they set out to develop a better way of collaborating after major disasters. The company mapped 98 acres in one of the hardest hit and most marginalized districts of the city, then teamed up with a group of architectural students to create a plan for a total regeneration of public space in the district.

Drones Offer an Immediate Response in the Midst of Chaos

After a major earthquake, inspecting the damage at ground level is a necessary piece of the puzzle. But it’s difficult to get a complete sense of the destruction from this vantage point, especially when you are talking about entire neighborhoods.

Santiago Fuentes and Pablo Germenos, co-founders of DroneSky, knew they could use drones to help their city create a clear picture of the damage.

“In times of emergency, you need an emergency response to all of the chaos. Drones allow us to have an immediate response and record of what happened, and in a fast and accurate way.” — Santiago Fuentes, co-founder and CEO of DroneSky

Drone mapping not only creates an immediate record of damage after an emergency, but it also helps conceptualize that damage in a meaningful way. Individual building inspectors, architects, and urban planners had been dispatched across Mexico City, but they lacked a comprehensive tool to help everyone stay on the same page. From their own work on construction projects, the team at DroneSky knew that DroneDeploy’s cloud-based maps and models give teams a simple way to collaborate on complex projects.


After the September 9th earthquake in Mexico City, DroneSky mapped a total of 98.6 acres in the Xochimilco district, one of the hardest hit and most marginalized parts of the city. Explore the map.

And so, just two days after the earthquake, DroneSky used a DJI Phantom 4 to map the entire Xochimilco district. In a total of eight flights, they created a map of the entire 98.6 acre neighborhood and individual maps of specific buildings that had suffered the most damage.

Architecture Students Use Drone Data to Redesign Destroyed Buildings

DroneSky’s project was pro-bono, and they made their maps available to NGOs, urban planners, and anyone else who might benefit. But they didn’t stop there.

In addition to his work with DroneSky, Pablo studies architecture at Universidad Iberoamericana. He and Santiago mobilized a group of architecture students, who formed the Rebuilding Mexico Group. Using the drone-generated maps and 3D models as a baseline, the group set out to redesign eight major buildings that had been completely destroyed.


Exhibition of models produced by the Rebuilding Mexico Group. Photo credit: Architect Students of Universidad Iberoamericana

DroneDeploy’s orthomosaic maps, elevation models, and 3D point clouds easily integrate with 3D modeling software. The students in Rebuilding Mexico Group used their drone-generated maps, 3D models and elevation models as a baseline for their work in Rhinoceros 3D software.


Models produced by the Rebuilding Mexico Group. Photo credit: Architect Students of Universidad Iberoamericana

“DroneDeploy is the only mapping software we use nowadays,” says Santiago. “The user interface is smooth and the design is really good. It’s practical because we can have a detailed workflow with construction projects.”

DroneSky is still waiting to hear which of the projects designed by Rebuilding Mexico Group will be picked up by developers. One building design is being discussed and more may still come.

But for Santiago and Pablo, that was never the point of the project. From the outset, they wanted to develop a proof of concept and a collaborative model for Mexico City and beyond.

“This project gives us a new way of responding to what is going on in the world. It’s not just a new technology. It’s a new way to think, a new way to react, to give communities more tools after a crisis.” — Santiago Fuentes, co-founder and CEO of DroneSky


Rebuilding Mexico Group hosts an exhibit showcasing their re-design of building destroyed after the Mexico City Earthquake. Photo credit: Architect Students of Universidad Iberoamericana

About DroneSky

Like many drone service providers, Santiago Fuentes and Pablo Germenos got started with UAVs as a way to get involved with an ever-changing, emerging technology. In mid-2016, the longtime friends teamed up to launch DroneSky. Initially they planned to focus on filming and photography, but they soon discovered DroneDeploy and the many possibilities of drone mapping. When construction began on a new airport in Mexico City, they realized drones in construction was a mostly untapped market in the region.

Today, DroneSky is one of the leading drone mapping companies for construction in Mexico City. In addition to their involvement on the airport, the company has worked with major construction companies on public parks, high-rises, and residential projects.

Where to Learn More

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



After Mexico City Earthquake, Drones Help Make Sense of the Damage was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


No SD Cards, no uploads, and no waiting. Get drone data immediately — no laptop or internet required.

In a fast-moving world, data needs to keep up with operations. Your decisions and bottom line depend on it. That’s why the future of drone mapping is in real time. You can’t afford to wait a day — or even hours — for aerial insights.

Today we’re excited to announce Live Map, the first product capable of generating drone maps in real time. Live Map gives you the instant aerial insights to make better decisions in the field, on the job site, and anywhere else you need to collect drone data.

Drone Maps in Your Pocket

If you’ve ever made a drone map, you know how it goes: you plan a mission, fly and capture imagery, head back to the office to upload the data on your computer, and wait hours while your drone map processes.

Enter Live Map.

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With Live Map, you get the data you need immediately — without a laptop or internet connection. Just plan a flight, take off, and see maps render on-screen during flight. That’s it. And once your drone completes its flight, all data syncs to the cloud for sharing and collaboration.

“Hours of waiting for crop imagery are over. We can capture real-time data in seconds without an internet connection, and begin making smarter crop management decisions before the drone hits the ground.” — Justin Metz, Technology Integration Specialist at Bowles Farms

You might remember our beta product, Fieldscanner. Live Map is the next generation. Since we started this project, mobile devices have doubled in computational power — meaning today’s Live Maps are 400% higher quality. These improvements are possible thanks to the latest devices and significant advancements made by our computer vision team.

But don’t take our word for it, see for yourself.


One of these maps was made in hours—the other in real-time. Can you tell the difference?

Live Map is also 5x faster than Fieldscanner, making it capable of keeping up with the real-time challenges of the real world.

“The quality of the “Live Map” feature in DroneDeploy is game-changing — a major improvement from the first generation of Fieldscanner.” — Chad Colby, Owner of Colby Ag Tech


Here’s what real-time mapping looks like. Live Map is 5x faster than the beta product.

Real-time Data for Real-time Decisions

Live Map turns hundreds of acres into consumable maps without the need to go back to the office. Get accurate aerial views of your job site, field, or project faster than ever before.

Get an instant birds-eye-view of crops, analyze plant health from your tailgate, and immediately ground truth any findings. Monitor the progress of your job site by keeping track of earthwork, equipment, and structures in real-time.

“Live Map helps me end each day with confidence knowing where a project stands and what our subcontractors have completed so that we can provide the best product for our clients.” — Ryan Moret, Field Solutions Manager at McCarthy Building Companies

Get Aerial Awareness When it Matters Most


Relief workers can use Live Map to assess damage and coordinate disaster relief.

Live Maps aren’t just for growers and builders. They can impact any workflow that requires instant aerial insights. First responders can leverage a Live Map to get a better view of an emergency situation or to locate missing persons.

Relief workers can use a Live Map in incidence response to assess damage and coordinate disaster relief.

Environmental scientists can create a Live Map to document conservation efforts and monitor change, or detect invasive species.

The applications of Live Map are endless.

Compatible with Your Existing Mapping Workflow

Need to take your analysis one step further? No problem. Live Map works in parallel with your traditional mapping workflow — all while capturing drone imagery for later upload and processing with DroneDeploy.

Just upload the imagery from your flight to DroneDeploy as you normally would, and create a full-resolution map or 3D model for further analysis using our built-in measurement tools, or leverage our industry-leading App Market and integrations.

The Future is Now — and Getting Better all the Time

Live Map is the future of mapping. It’s mobile, real-time, and operates entirely on the go. As drones and devices continue to improve, Live Map will evolve to enable even faster, higher quality mapping and analysis for any terrain.

“Live Map is a timely addition to DroneDeploy’s growing suite of trusted solutions. As more enterprises adopt drone technology across their operations, there will be an even greater demand for scalable mapping solutions that enable smarter business decision making in the field without compromising speed, quality, and a seamless experience.” — Jan Gasparic, Head of Enterprise Partnerships at DJI

No matter how you decide to put Live Map to use, we know you’ll be impressed by the quality and accuracy of your real-time aerial data. So, what will you do with Live Map?

Learn More About Live Map

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



Introducing Live Map: Make Real-Time Drone Maps with Your iPhone or iPad was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Show us what you’re mapping in real-time for a chance to win a DJI Mavic Pro drone.

Now that you can get instant insights of your job site, field, or project with our latest tool, Live Map, we want to see what you and your bird can do.

It’s time to bring out your drone and participate in our #LiveMapChallenge. Why? You might win a Mavic Pro drone plus a DroneDeploy swag package. That’s right — we’re giving away another drone, but we want you to give us your best.


This is what a Live Map looks like in action.

What You Need to Get Started:

  1. The latest DroneDeploy app from the iTunes App Store.
  2. Your supported iOS mobile device (sorry Android users, Live Map is currently only supported for iOS, but there will be opportunities for you to participate in other contests down the road). We suggest any of these models:
  • iPhone 6s or newer (Sept 2015)
  • iPad Air 2 or newer (Oct 2014)
  • iPad Mini 4 (Sept 2015)

3. Supported Drone (please note that modified cameras are not supported):

  • Phantom 4, 4 Pro, or 4 Advanced
  • Mavic Pro
  • Inspire 2 (X4S only)
  • M200/M210 (X4S only)

To join in on our #LiveMapChallenge, follow these rules:

  1. Make a Live Map between February 15, 2018 and March 15, 2018.
  2. Share your Live Map shareable link with us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
  3. Tag DroneDeploy and use the hashtag #LiveMapChallenge.
  4. There is no limit as to how many times you can enter. In fact, we encourage you to go out there and make as many Live Maps as you can! For every Live Map you share, your chances of winning the grand prize increases.

The possibilities are endless, so where will you be flying and live mapping?

Here are the #LiveMapChallenge’s full terms and conditions.

Psst…the first 25 Live Mappers get a free DroneDeploy t-shirt.

Learn More About Live Map

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



What Will You Live Map Today? was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Tips and Tricks for making high-quality Live Maps with DroneDeploy

This week, we launched our new real-time mapping tool, Live Map. Live Map gives you the instant aerial insights to make better decisions in the field, on the job site, and anywhere else you need to collect drone data.

If you’re interested in using Live Map, you probably have some questions. How do I make the best Live Map? What flight settings should I use when planning my mission? What drones and devices support Live Map?

Read on to get the answers to all these questions and more, so you get the most out of Live Map in the field.

Live Map Supported Drones, Cameras, and iOS Devices

Supported iOS Devices

At this time, Live Map only supports iOS devices (sorry Android users). Because Live Map is an intensive program that uses cutting-edge computer vision, it requires a powerful processor and ample RAM to run smoothly. Newer iPhones and iPads — especially the iPad Pro — will provide the best experience and highest quality Live Maps.

Customers using older devices, particularly the iPhone 6s, may experience some difficulty generating Live Maps for missions that are longer than 10 minutes in flight time.

We recommend using one of the devices listed below:

  • iPhones: iPhone 6s or later (Sept 2015)
  • iPad: iPad Air 2 or later (Oct 2014)
  • iPad Mini: iPad Mini 4 (Sept 2015)

Supported Drones and Cameras

Live Map is currently only compatible with DJI drones. And just like mobile devices we mentioned above, using a newer drone will yield better results.

Below is a complete list of supported drone platforms* for Live Map:

  • DJI Phantom 4
  • DJI Mavic Pro
  • DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Phantom 4 Pro Advanced
  • DJI Inspire 2 (X4S only)
  • DJI M200/M210 (X4S only)

*At this time, we don’t support modified RGB cameras, such as those often used in agriculture.

Flight Planning with Live Map

For best results, we recommend using the default flight settings for altitude and overlap in the DroneDeploy app.

Recommended Flight Settings

Altitude: 250 ft (75m) or higher
Overlap: 65% sidelap and 75% frontlap

Though, we realize that sometimes you made need to alter your flight settings depending on your environment. If these cases, we have put together some recommended best practices surrounding areas with taller objects and elevation. Read on the learn more.

Mapping Tall Objects and Environments with Varied Elevation

If your mission area is relatively flat — and does cover tall objects like buildings or trees — then you can fly lower, but we do not recommend you fly lower than 150ft (45m). When flying lower than 250ft, we suggest you increase your sidelap to 80%.

Increase Sidelap When Mapping Areas with Varied Elevation

If you map an area that has many tall objects such as buildings and trees, or there are is terrain with varying elevation — like hills, cliffs, or pits — then we recommend you fly higher and increase your sidelap to 70%. For extreme cases, you can increase your sidelap to 80%.

Below are some general tips to ensure you get the best results when mapping areas with tall objects and elevation.

  • Adjust your flight direction so legs are not as long — and there is more sidelap.
  • The taller the buildings are in your area, the greater sidelap you will want.
  • If you’re flying low, then we suggest you fly with a higher sidelap.
  • Avoid buildings taller than five stories.

Why Sidelap Helps When Mapping Areas with Varied Elevation

By increasing the sidelap of a mission, you are increasing the number of times an area on the map will be captured in a Live Map frame. Every time a new frame gets added to the Live Map, the area captured in that frame refreshes, which orthorectifies that section of the map. By increasing the number of times an area refreshes, you are increasing the amount — and quality — of data that is used to correctly orthorectify a given area of the map.

Setting Frontlap and Flight Speed

If you are mapping an area with complex features or geometry, then the best way to improve the quality of your Live Map is to decrease your flight speed. You can do this by:

  1. Limiting the max flight speed
  2. Increasing your frontlap will also decrease your max flight speed, but remember that this causes you to take more images. Extra images will only be an issue if you are mapping large areas.

Maintain a Strong Connection with Your Drone at all Times

Live Map uses DJI’s live video feed to process data in real time. The live video is transmitted via DJI’s Lightbridge or Occusync technology. Which means your Live Map quality is largely dependent on the quality of the live video transmission.

Here are some tips for boosting the live video signal quality, and producing higher quality Live Maps:

  • Reduce the distance between the drone and the main controller. For larger maps, take off from the center of your mission plan.
  • Reduce any physical obstructions between the drone and the main controller. If possible, avoid flying near trees, buildings, and power lines. Fly from a high vantage point like a rooftop or hill and always maintain a clear line of site.
  • Point your main controller toward your drone.
  • Set your DJI channel mode to “auto” in “Image Transmission Settings.” To do this, open DJI Go 4, select the 3 dots in the top right corner, and then select the “HD” icon. Make sure you set the channel mode to “Auto”.
  • Pick a custom channel in “Image Transmission Settings.” For small Live Maps (<10 acres) use 5.8GHz and pick the most stable channel (represented by the largest green bar).
  • For large Live Maps (>10 acres) use 2.4GHz and pick the most stable channel (represented by the largest green bar).
  • Because of the Occusync technology, the Mavic Pro often has the best signal quality.
  • Newer drones have better signal quality (P4P, Inspire 2, M200).

Where to Learn More

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



Getting Started with Live Map was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Drone insights prove to be a powerful tool for business leaders

As a business leader, your entire day is made up of a string of decisions. Your choices can have a significant impact on your work, your colleagues, and the bottom line. But without data to help guide your decisions, you might be heading in the wrong direction.

Sadly, there is no such thing as a crystal ball. But there is drone technology to help you better understand your farm, job site, property, or mine. Drone insights are quickly becoming an indispensable tool in just about every industry — helping leaders make informed decisions with a rich set of aerial data.

Real-time Information on the Job Site

Although some decisions take time and serious analysis, many of the choices that drive your workday are made on the job site, not in the office. Because DroneDeploy’s data lives in the cloud, it’s easy to take a smartphone or tablet into the field for real-time analysis and decision making.

Ryan Moret, Field Solutions Manager with McCarthy Building Companies, uses DroneDeploy’s suite of built-in measurement tools to inform his day-to-day work.

“I can tell how many square feet of roof we’ve put down, how much square footage of concrete is left to pour. If we’re trying to figure out truck access, we can measure the width of a road or gate or how much room we need to clear out for material to make the site clean and organized.” — Ryan Moret, Field Solutions Manager, McCarthy Building Companies


For real-time decision making on the job site, use DroneDeploy’s suite of tools to make instant area, length, and volume measurements.

Matthew Forster, a project engineer with Choate Construction, agrees. He mapped a 550,000 square-foot manufacturing plant site weekly during construction, using the information to keep his team up to speed, manage subcontractors, and make sure external stakeholders were informed continuously on site progress.

Drones Take the Human Error out of High-Stakes Decisions

Real-time drone maps create a snapshot you just can’t get at ground level. But that is just the start. Drone data really shines when combined with powerful analysis tools like Roof Report, Agremo, and Skymatics.

As corn grower and drone service provider Corey Nohl points out, human analysis is far more prone to error than software guided by machine learning and artificial intelligence.

“There is a benefit to flying my crops versus walking them, and making decisions based on computer analytics, rather than just opinions…Drones take the human error out of it.” — Corey Nohl, corn grower and drone service provider

Corey recently helped a client leverage drone data to assess the extent of stand loss after an unseasonably cold spring.


Drone data analysis tools help guide human intuition. The Agremo Insights app now available on the DroneDeploy App Market.

The grower needed to decide if the loss was significant enough to justify replanting, but he knew that ground scouting is an imperfect science with a high margin of error.

Why make such an important decision with an imperfect set of data?

Using a drone map, combined with Agremo’s stand count analysis feature, the grower had a much more accurate picture of the loss. And when he ultimately chose not to replant, he was sure it was the right decision for his farm — and his bottom line.

Drone Data Pairs with Industry Software for High-Level Analysis

Drone insights help you make quick decisions, but they are also invaluable for analyzing trends and engaging in big-picture analyses. Not only are drone-generated surveys up to 20x faster than ground-based methods, but they also provide a rich data set that can feed into your other software tools like BIM, ArcGIS, and CAD for high-level decision making.

The Virtual Design and Construction team at Brasfield and Gorrie generate point clouds in DroneDeploy and then imports data into Autodesk Revit, where they overlay it with the 3D site plan models and other data to monitor earthwork, streamline site planning, and verify concrete and pipe work, and overall design adherence.

“I can overlay a point cloud over that 3D model, line it up exactly and see, for the first time, what’s been built versus the design intent,” — Hunter Cole, VDC Coordinator at Brasfield and Gorrie.


Energy industry giant SunPower uses drone data to help solar farm developers quickly make sense of a staggering amount of solar array choices.

Drone Maps and Models Tame Big Data

Sometimes, too much information is more of a burden than helpful. Drone maps and models help make sense of large amounts of data to streamline the decision-making process. Solar technology company SunPower takes this approach to help solar farm developers decide on the best solar array for large-scale projects.

A typical solar farm site have over 1000 potential layout options. A site developer needs a way to quickly configure and optimize possible layouts, to calculate which design will maximize energy generation while minimizing cost.

SunPower uses DroneDeploy’s mapping software to generate a high-resolution 3D point cloud of a site, then uploads the point cloud into proprietary software to compare the energy productions estimates for a large number of potential layouts. In the high-stakes world of energy farm prospecting, this timeliness makes all the difference.

The Future of Drone Data and Analytics

If you think all of this sounds pretty great, just wait. Drones and drone data software are evolving very quickly. Business leaders who adopt drones now will be well positioned to take advantage of the next generation of drone technology. Here are some of the advancements you can expect to see from drones in the coming years:

  • Scheduled, automatic drone deployments: As more large companies put drones to work, we can expect to see a greater need for automated flight and workflows. This need will ultimately lead to new regulations and completely autonomous drone operations in coming years.
  • Real-time data: Advancements in edge computing made possible by the latest mobile and drone hardware have made real-time drone data analysis a reality. In 2017, we saw the introduction of this technology, and capabilities will continue to expand in 2018.
  • Machine learning to assist with analysis: As automation of flight and analysis kicks into high gear, the frequency of data collection will increase, which will require solutions that leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to provide smarter analysis.

Where to Learn More

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



Making Smarter Decisions with Aerial Data was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Why UAVs are poised to transform the insurance industry

With an unending list of hurricanes, floods, and wildfires to contend with in 2017, it’s easy to see why the insurance industry is looking for tools to save time, cut costs, and streamline the claims process.

Last year, drones made their way into the insurance adjuster’s toolbox in a big way. Drone maps and 3D models cut timelines, kept adjusters safe, and in some cases saved insurance companies millions of dollars in claims costs.

“We’re seeing insurance companies around the world incorporate drones into the claims process with success…The results are too positive for companies to ignore.” — Mike Winn, DroneDeploy CEO, during a recent interview with Insurance Tech Insider.

This year promises to be a big year for UAVs and insurance. Here are some of the ways drone maps and models are poised to transform the industry.


Major French insurance company GFA Generali deployed a team of drone mapping specialists to gather critical data in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

Drone-generated Maps and Models Shave Weeks Off Damage Assessments

Time is crucial during the claims process. When a disaster causes property destruction, insurance companies are pressed to work quickly, assessing damage so that people can begin to rebuild their lives as soon as possible.

This is not just human decency — it is a business imperative. Each day a claim is put on hold because of backlogs is another day a company must pay for downtime, like business interruption costs and additional living expenses.


Over a period of just 10 days, Emilien Rose and his team at Dronotec mapped 300 buildings in St. Martin

Major insurance company GFA Generali had this in mind when they deployed a team of six drone pilots to the island of St. Martin after Hurricane Irma. Using DroneDeploy’s fast, cloud-processing capabilities, they mapped 300 high rise buildings in just ten days — a task that would have taken months for a ground team of that same size.

Adjusters are using similar tactics to assess the recent destruction from wildfires that burned in much of the west. In the map below, the Fountaingrove neighborhood of Santa Rosa is captured before and after a wildfire destroyed buildings and vegetation.


DroneDeploy offered a safe way to assess the damage from wildfires in Santa Rosa. This image shows a site before and after the fire.

Drones Offer Safety and Accessibility at Damaged Sites

Sometimes, of course, a site isn’t even accessible by ground immediately after a storm, fire, or other disaster. Drones give insurance adjusters the access they need without compromising safety.

Even when a site is accessible, drones provide a far safer way to conduct thorough inspections, reducing the need to navigate rubble or scale rooftops. High resolution drone maps offer a complete aerial view gathered at a safe distance.


When a fire destroyed over 80 small housing units on a coastal resort, drones gave insurance adjusters an aerial view without having to climb on dangerous thatched roofs. Read the full case study.

Drone Maps Provide Richer Data and Unparalleled Analysis

Drones are not only faster, safer, and more accessible than ground inspections — they give adjustors a far greater set of data, which can be leveraged throughout the claims process.

After mapping more than XX properties in another wildfire-damage area of Santa Rosa, insurance inspector Joshua Koester used DroneDeploy’s built-in measurement tools to help make sense of the damage.

Adjusters also use DroneDeploy’s annotation capabilities to aggregate important information, such as ground-level observations and weather patterns. This information is overlaid with drone maps for simplified comparison and analysis. Maps are hosted in the cloud, so information can easily be shared between ground teams, the home office, and outside stakeholders like contractors.

Learn how a drone map enabled one insurance company to save almost 100,000,000 €.

Insurance technology from the skies: looking to the future

With drones set to make an even bigger impact on the insurance industry in 2018, it’s safe to assume we’ll see some exciting innovations over the months to come. What are a few of our predictions for the future of drones and insurance?

Drones and wildfires — DroneDeploy customers proved that drone maps can be a game changer for assessing damage after a fire. With wildfires decimating much of the West this season, we expect drones to take an even larger role in helping insurance companies survey the massive devastation.


Accurate Estimates, Inc. mapped properties in a second Santa Rosa neighborhood, leveraging DroneDeploy’s to help make sense of the damage.

An ounce of prevention — With mounting costs across the board, we expect insurance companies will undoubtedly begin to leverage drones as a tool for damage prevention. Drones are an ideal tool for inspecting properties before issuing a new policy, allowing companies to proactively identify risks and work with customers to mitigate their impact.

Where to Learn More

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



Drones are Becoming an Essential Tool for Insurance Claims was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


Complete Accurate Roof Inspections, Measurements & Reports with Drones

Roof inspection is dangerous and time-consuming work. But getting up in the air to take measurements by hand or catalog damage has always been a part of doing business.

Every roof inspector, claims adjuster, and solar installer has long dreamed of being able to do their job from the safety of the ground. That’s why we’re thrilled to announce Roof Report, a new aerial inspection tool that makes inspecting and measuring roofs quicker and safer using drones.

“We’ve been working closely with some of the largest solar and insurance companies in North America to bring our customers a reliable and accurate drone roofing solution.” — Mike Winn, CEO of DroneDeploy


Capture high-resolution imagery of a roof in 10 minutes or less.

Automatically Capture Roof Imagery in Minutes

With the DroneDeploy mobile flight app, you can quickly plan an automated drone flight and capture high-resolution roof imagery in as little as 10 minutes — without the need to ever step foot on a roof.

Our flight app delivers optimal aerial data to help you produce the highest quality maps and 3D models around. With adaquately overlapped images, proper focus, and end-of-mission orbits, you can trust our map engine to build accurate roof details and results, fast.

“Our customers — from leading solar, electric, and real estate enterprises to drone hobbyists who have started to utilize their DJI drones in their daily work — are experiencing incredible ROI with DroneDeploy’s Roofing solution,” said Jan Gasparic, Head of Enterprise Partnerships, DJI.


Generate comprehensive roof reports with the click of a button.

Generate Accurate Roof Reports with the Click of a Button

Once your team has captured the aerial imagery, creating a roof report is just a few clicks away. Each roof report provides accurate square footage, roof features, pitch, surface area, and slope. And you can rest easy knowing all the measurements are 99.4% accurate. Once your roof report is ready, download a PDF copy or export a DXF output compatible with your existing tools.

See an example roof report here.

Triple the Number of Estimates Your Team Completes in a Day

What if you could make your team 3X more productive? With DroneDeploy you can. Our solution is 3X faster than traditional methods of roof inspection. With results like these, you’ll be able to provide your customers with faster turnaround times and better information.

Share Maps and Roof Reports for Easy Collaboration

DroneDeploy’s cloud-based platform makes it easy to share high-resolution maps and models of roofs with your team. Whether your team is in the office, or out in the field, you can remain connected at all times.

How to Use Roof Report

After you’ve planned your flight, collected the roof imagery, and begun processing your map and 3D model, you can access the Roof Report App from the DroneDeploy App Market to generate your custom roof report for $35. The completed report is emailed to you within 2 hours time.

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Best Flight Practices for Capturing Roof Imagery

Our roofing solution is suitable for commercial and residential applications. We recommend the following best practices to ensure optimal results when using our flight app:

  • Fly low — we recommend flying approximately 75ft above the roof
  • Stay alert — Be careful of wires and other thin obstacles that your drone could hit
  • Use the right processing mode — Process your data in 3D mode on DroneDeploy for best results
  • Buy the right drone — We recommend you use a Phantom 4 Pro or Inspire 2 for the best results
  • Check before you fly — Check local flight restrictions with tools like AirMap and Flyte
  • Take off manually — It’s hard to estimate the height of objects from the ground. Take off manually to check the height of the building and trees
  • Land with caution — Take off and land from an unobstructed area like a driveway

Where to Learn More

  • Register for our upcoming live webinar, Aerial Roof Inspections with Drones and learn how to quickly and safely inspect and measure roofs with DroneDeploy.
  • Check out Roof Report on our website and sign up for DroneDeploy
  • To learn more about the linear measurement accuracy of DroneDeploy and DJI drones, read our free white paper.

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



Introducing Roof Report from DroneDeploy was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


AirMap and Skyward Bring Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) to Commercial Drone Operations

Near real-time processing of FAA airspace authorizations now available on the DroneDeploy App Market

If you’ve ever been faced with flying a mission near a controlled airspace, you know the frustration. The lengthy FAA authorization form. The 90-day backlog. Drones are supposed to streamline your operations and give you real-time data, but there’s nothing streamlined about a 90-day wait period just to fly within five miles of an airport.

The good news: this frustrating backlog is finally coming to an end. DroneDeploy users can now skip the 90-day wait and apply for near real-time airspace authorization from directly within the DroneDeploy platform.

This month, DroneDeploy partners AirMap and Skyward are bringing this new capability to the industry, allowing you to take full advantage of LAANC — the FAA’s new Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability initiative. (More on LAANC in a minute.)

Partnering closely with AirMap, DroneDeploy is one of a handful of early adopters to make the move ahead of the announcement. So what does all of this mean for DroneDeploy customers and the larger drone ecosphere? And what do you need to know to take advantage of it?

DroneDeploy Users Say Goodbye to FAA Backlogs at Airports

This much-anticipated move has been in the works since late 2017, when the FAA first launched its Low-Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) initiative. LAANC, which is in its BETA phase, allows drone operators to request digital airspace authorizations near selected airports.

AirMap and Skyward are already industry go-to’s for pre-flight airspace advisory checks, and they are some of the first platforms to be approved by the FAA to provide LAANC services. But they understood that for something like LAANC to really move the needle in the commercial drone industry, it had to be available to as many drone operators as possible.

“Based on customer feedback, we know most of their jobs are in controlled airspace and getting access to fly in these areas is one of their largest business pain points,” said Skyward co-president Mariah Scott. “Operators have had to wait 60–90 days to receive authorization under the existing system. Now, with Skyward and LAANC, enterprises can get approval to fly in just two clicks. With this hurdle gone, we can expect to see substantial adoption of drone technology at the enterprise level.”

AirMap’s Digital Airspace Authorizations are a Huge Step forward for DroneDeploy Customers

Needless to say, all of this is a game changer for many commercial drone operators. The three month wait period has been a major barrier for companies wanting to use drones in their operations. No project can just come to a screeching halt while the FAA slowly turns its bureaucratic wheels.

Under the old system, unless a company did some serious planning ahead, projects in controlled airspace were often forced to forgo UAVs altogether and move forward without the benefit of drone data.

Now, DroneDeploy customers not only get to skip the lengthy backlog, but they can do it all without ever leaving the DroneDeploy platform via AirMap’s app thanks to their innovative deep linking integration.


AirMapLAANC capabilities are now easily accessible from the DroneDeploy dashboard. Access them in the DroneDeploy App Market.

Timeline for the Nationwide LAANC Rollout

As of right now, LAANC is still in its early stages, and it is only available at 46 airports across the US. But the FAA has made a commitment to launch it nationwide by the end of the year.

“With the LAANC beta launching nationwide by the end of the year, [this feature] will bring digital authorization to an entire community of U.S. drone operators and developers eager to reach new heights,” said Ben Marcus, CEO of AirMap. “Thanks to LAANC, more airspace is open for business, and commercial drones have more opportunities contribute to our economy and benefit our daily lives.”

To stay up-to-date on the list of participating airports, check this listing on the FAA’s website.

If you are fortunate enough to work within range of one of these airports, getting started is as easy as adding the AirMap and Skyward Sync apps to your DroneDeploy dashboard.

For everyone else, you’ll have to hold tight for a little longer, but the wait will be worth it. The FAA’s effort toward streamlining airspace authorization is about more than just eliminating a paperwork backlog. It represents a shift toward a landscape that is increasingly responsive to the business needs of commercial drone users. And for those of us who plan to operate drones for years to come, that’s music to our ears.

Where to Learn More

  • Read more about AirMap’s LAANC authorization on their blog. Even if you don’t need an airspace authorization, the AirMap app is a great on-the-go tool to check for nearby airspace advisories before each flight.
  • Read Skyward’s tutorial for syncing your DroneDeploy flight logs and getting LAANC authorization here. Or watch the tutorial video here. To get started, install the Skyward Sync app in the DroneDeploy App Market.
  • Explore more of our top recommended software tools for drone mapping in this post.
  • Construction is one of the industries most affected by airspace regulations. If you are a construction professional new to drones, read up on 3 Ways to Improve Communication on Your Job Site with Drones.

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.



AirMap and Skyward Bring Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) to… was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.


DroneDeploy Adds Checkpoint Support, Retires Orbit Mode, and Releases Calendar View

A new year means new updates from DroneDeploy.

We’re excited to share what we’ve been working on this month, including support for checkpoints. Read on to learn about the latest flight enhancements for 3D modeling, improvements to processing estimates, and an all-new calendar view.

Validate Map Accuracy with Checkpoints

Checkpoints are used to assess the relative and absolute accuracy of a map or model. Using checkpoints, you can now validate how accurate your map is, and compare it to the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) standards required for survey-grade* maps accepted in by construction, surveying, and engineering firms.

You can specify that some points are checkpoints when uploading Ground Control Point (GCP) names and locations in the CSV file. Checkpoints do not get processed with your map. Instead, they are used to calculate any errors present in the map. Once the map finishes processing, you can generate an accuracy report showing the checkpoint accuracy.

Read our support doc to learn more about checkpoints.

Goodbye Orbit Mode. Hello 3D Mode.

If you have made a 3D model with DroneDeploy, you’ve probably used Orbit Mode — which automatically captured oblique images — photos pointed inwards toward the center of the mapping area — at the end of a mission. Today, we say goodbye to Orbit Mode and welcome 3D Mode.

We’ve improved oblique image capture with 3D Mode, which is now available to all customers. In 3D Mode, your drone will fly along the perimeter of your flight plan and take a predefined set of oblique images needed for high-quality models.


This high definition 3D model was made using just 40 images collected using the new 3D Mode.

Enable 3D Mode under in the DroneDeploy Dashboard when planning your next flight. Learn more about 3D Mode here.

Map Processing Times are Now 20% More Accurate

We’ve improved the way we estimate map processing times. Now, when you upload photos to DroneDeploy, the time estimate to finish processing a map will be more accurate. More accurate processing times means you can set better delivery expectations with your clients, collaborators, or stakeholders in your company.

Easily Compare Maps Over Time with Calendar View

We have long supported viewing multiple maps made of the same area using a drop-down menu. But to make things simpler, we’ve released Calendar View. Using a calendar, you can now quickly see when you flew a mission over the same site — and compare changes over time.

Even better, if you zoom in or select a plant health or elevation layer, we now maintain the same view when you switch maps. If you fly a site multiple times on a single day, the most recent map will load by default, and you will show a secondary drop-down menu to select the others. This feature is now available to all DroneDeploy customers.

Image Counts Now Visible During Flight Planning

When planning a mission, you need to know how flight parameters such as altitude, sidelap, and frontlap will affect your image count. The latest update makes it easy to see the image count when adjusting your flight settings in the DroneDeploy Dashboard.

Where to Learn More

New to DroneDeploy? Explore 10 tips for making your first map.

Read more about our recent product updates and releases including:

Have questions about the latest updates, features, and capabilities? Get in touch with our team for more answers.

Get Started with DroneDeploy

Want to learn how DroneDeploy can help your business? Visit www.dronedeploy.com to start your free trial or request a consultation with one of our team members. The DroneDeploy mobile application is available for free download for both iOS and Android devices.

*Disclaimer: You must be a licensed surveyor to designate a map as survey-grade.



Product Release Wrap-Up January 2018 was originally published in DroneDeploy’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.