Few will argue with the notion that the way in which professionals can operate a drone for commercial purposes has changed forever under Part 107. Many had been critical of the Section 333 process not only because of how long it took to receive one, but also because of how it did not place of onus of responsibility on the person flying the drone. Part 107 changes all of that for the better.

Regulation had long been considered the greatest barrier to entry for businesses of all sizes, and with that barrier coming down the push to take advantage of these tools will be greater than ever. How a particular business approaches that issue will obviously vary, but for the most part it comes down to a choice of whether or not to try and pull UAV services in-house or outsource to service providers. Under Part 107, more service providers will be around and available, but how should they approach getting this type of work?

It’s an issue that is especially relevant in the surveying & mapping space, since surveying is a licensed profession in the United States. Not just anyone can call himself or herself a surveyor, but if someone has a drone, can that person provide the same or better data than a surveyor could, regardless of their experience? What kind issues are associated with being able to get up and running with this kind of service? Are UAVs set to completely upend the entire industry?

These are just a few of the questions writer Will Tompkinson explored for a series on SPAR3D.com, as he looked to provide answers to these question and more which that will be relevant to anyone looking to contract or provide UAV survey services.


dji-drone-702x336What Does it Mean to be an Aerial Surveyor?

That’s a question Tompkinson asked in the first part of his series, Can Anyone with a UAV Call Themselves an Aerial Surveyor? He discusses the context of what it means for someone to call themselves a surveyor, and how drones have changed that context. UAVs might not be capturing the exact same data as a traditional surveyor, but the difference between the two methodologies can be either negligible or irrelevant.

Flying, capturing and processing data via a drone is easier than ever if we’re just focused on the logistics, but Part 107 makes the legalities of all that infinitely easier as well. With a UAV, individuals or teams that haven’t been traditionally trained can deliver projects, so does that mean a completely new market has been opened up for anyone with a drone and certification under Part 107?


yellowscan-uav-702x336The Costs of a UAV Business

Regardless of how experienced someone is or isn’t with surveying practices, UAV imaging operations require a professional approach. There’s an expectation anyone looking to contract a service provider is going to have, which is why the person with a drone and a certificate to fly should know they’re going to need to be concerned about much more.

Those additional considerations are what Tompkinson dealt with him his UAVs Cost More than You Think article, as he details the upfront and hidden costs that are associated with putting together a system that will allow someone to contract professional survey work. These costs are just part of the reason that a UAV solution is not always a cheaper option for either businesses or service providers.

Anyone looking to contract for or provide UAV services needs to be aware of the costs as well as what UAVs mean to issues like topographical data and the frequency of data capture.


usgs-uav-702x336Drone Strategy

In the final part of the series, The Real Signs of a Good UAV Strategy, Tompkinson talks through why the questions around cost should not take priority when it comes to figuring out a UAV strategy. Just because a service provider can offer something cheaper doesn’t mean that’s going to be the ultimate driver for a client.

Owning and being able to operate a UAV isn’t much of a consideration for many companies looking to hire a service provider. For them it’s all about the data. If someone had a UAV, the data they’re capturing needs to be at the same level as a professional surveyor, and ensuring that is far more important than the means by which data was captured.

Part 107 represents a tremendous opportunity for people to get involved in various industries, and that includes the surveying and mapping industry. As others have said though, Part 107 should not represent the end of the journey to take to the sky, but just the beginning of it.