In a statement released on his blog yesterday, an LA filmmaker who was the first person to be charged under LA’s anti-drone ordinance reported that the jury had ruled in his favor. Arvel Chappell III was both the first person charged under the anti-drone ordinance, and was the plaintiff in the first case to go to […]

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The FAA wants to know more about the now famous gun-wielding drone that has fired up controversy in Connecticut and it’s willing to go to court to find out. In 2015, Austin Haughwout, a mechanical engineering student at Central Connecticut State University, released a video demonstrating a drone carrying a gun and as well as […]

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Roadmap for drone operations in the European Union (EU)

Drone technology brings radical changes. The drone technology creates opportunities for new services and applications. They represent a tremendous opportunity both for our aeronautical manufacturing industry, especially for small and medium sized enterprises, and for the many aviation and nonaviation businesses that will be able to integrate drones into their activities, and increase their efficiency…

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Israeli based Airobotics recently announced a comprehensive commercial drone hardware and software solution to meet a number of industrial needs. The solution was specifically developed for industrial applications. Features include: a drone (the Optimus) can be flown autonomously can  swap out payloads and batteries automatically for continuous operation is constructed of corrosion resistant and waterproof […]

The post Airobotics Announces Autonomous Drone Platform; Raises $28.5 Million in Combined Round appeared first on DRONELIFE.

Part 107 is Here – And You Can Apply For a BLOS Certificate of Waiver

Part 107 is finally here – the US government’s small drone regulations issued by the FAA. Many are cheering, and they have a lot to cheer about: No more traditional pilot’s license Less recordkeeping No need to apply and wait for a Section 333 exemption. But for high value, good paying UAS work there are…

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Unanimous “Not Guilty” Verdict in Los Angeles’ First Criminal Drone Use Trial

A jury returned a unanimous “not guilty” verdict yesterday in favor of Arvel Chappell III, the first person charged under the City of Los Angeles’ recently enacted anti-drone ordinance, in what was the first case to go to trial on a drone-specific criminal charge. Given the increasing popularity of civilian and commercial drone use, Chappell’s…

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Pix4D Responds to Growing Number of Drone Professionals with Global Workshop Launch

With the formalization of the most important regulation for the US drone industry and an increasing number of professionals worldwide using drones and photogrammetry in their business, there’s a greater need for training on how to maximize usage. How does the technology work, and what is the optimal workflow for using these tools to map,…

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 Sponsored by Skyward, Marcos Osorno, CTO — It’s finally happened—at long last, the FAA has announced the rule allowing commercial drone operations in the United States! This is great news for our customers and our industry as a whole. Until now, everyone from sole proprietors to major corporations has had to either operate illegally or […]

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It’s innovative, but will companies embed it for their mission control?


Last week Hivemapper introduced its 3D earth maps Android app for drones. The preview I received a week earlier was impressive. Hivemapper is a mapping and navigation tool for drone operators to fly more safely and plan missions with awareness of the exact height and 3D footprint of buildings, trees, poles and other structures. Features include:

  • intelligent altitude (drone’s true height above bare earth),
  • an in-flight 3D map with collision avoidance alerts that provides distance to 3D objects,
  • and the ability to do quick object surveys.

The product has been in development since 2015 and was built using the DJI SDK – so it currently works only for DJI Phantoms and Inspire 1 drones.


Product features go way beyond what you find in Google Maps, Google Earth, and intelligent no-fly zone map programs like Airmap or Mapbox. Two things make Hivemapper innovative:

  1. The object point cloud information already contained in their maps—like building, trees, and power line locations and dimensions—boasts centimeter-level accuracy from 6 trillion points with 100% of the US coverage for Intelligent altitude and 60% for 3D objects with more to come.
  2. The second innovation is the ability to collect and add new data from users with an in-app object survey tool. The tool works like a count-down game. As drones circle an object, slices of a pie disappear until none are left. This means the data is complete and can be sent back to crowdsource-update the centralized map for future use.

Other drone app and software developers should make note that Hivemapper has tapped into two very important development techniques: crowdsourcing and gamification. Original data has been captured by existing users’ drones, but ongoing the game design element fosters engagement that supports further data capture.


To be clear, Hivemapper is not alone in their quest to “build a better mouse trap” map for drones. Angel funded Point One Navigation is on a quest to provide a similar ultra-precise location service. But the big question is whether drone mission planning and ground control vendors like 3DR, DroneDeploy, PrecisionHawk, senseFly, UgCS, and even DJI GEO will embed Hivemapper. I believe the use case is compelling. If you don’t understand where a drone is located in all three dimensions then having no-fly zones and 400 foot maximum height limits is pointless in many parts of the U.S. Hivemapper provides those features plus ones the others don’t have—like route planning around objects of unknown height and dimension, route validation, and a much better return home safety route than is provided by simple onboard object avoidance technology.


Watch this space—the market for maps and apps that give operators awareness of what they could collide – which is heating up. And Hivemapper has a leg up because of their unique and compelling approach with its crowdsourced gamification.

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This is a transcript of an internal team meeting held by seed-stage VC firm NextView.  Note: This meeting occurred before Part 107 was announced. Nextview often hold “shootarounds” to discuss major tech trends or topics and share lightly edited versions publicly. If you’re interested in early-stage tech startups, listen to their award-winning podcast, Traction, a show about […]

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