Category Archives: Drone news

James Norrod new CEO of PrecisionHawk

James Norrod has been named as our new Chief Executive Officer. Michael Chasen will lead PrecisionHawk’s advisory board and continue to champion efforts to integrate commercial drones into the National Airspace as Chair of the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee.

Mr. Norrod brings more than 25 years of experience leading companies in highly regulated industries, including public and venture-backed technology companies. He specializes in forming strategic partnerships, optimizing domestic and international operations, establishing new sales distribution channels, and developing management teams.

Mr. Norrod’s extensive portfolio of leadership experience includes serving as CEO of Tellabs, CEO of Zhone Technologies (Nasdaq: DZSI), CEO of Segway, CEO of Telebit (Nasdaq: TBIT), CEO of Adage, (Nasdaq: ADGE), and CEO of Infinite Power Solutions. He has also served as Executive Chairman of GreenBytes. Mr. Norrod has led companies to successful exits to organizations such as Apple, Cisco, and Oracle. His career started with 10 years at IBM, where he managed the General Motors account.

“PrecisionHawk is grateful for Michael Chasen’s leadership in advancing the commercial drone economy and taking on a pivotal role with policymakers in Washington as the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee Chairman,” said Mr. Norrod of his immediate predecessor. “Michael grew the company significantly and helped pioneer best practices in drone-based geospatial data analytics across multiple industries. I am looking forward to continuing to build on his foundational work by delivering additional cost and time efficiencies, usability, and operational excellence to our customers. I am eager to partner with him as we continue to build trust between the American public and the commercial drone ecosystem, so that we unlock the full potential of this unique technology.”

Much of Mr. Norrod’s experience has been in scaling technology companies by navigating difficult regulatory landscapes and forming fruitful strategic partnerships with other innovative firms. This appointment reflects the Board’s confidence in his exceptional ability to foster relationships and drive results, building on the strong momentum PrecisionHawk had in 2019.

Atmos UAV further expands its distributor network with Vekom GEO

Atmos UAV, the fast-growing Delft-based drone manufacturer that develops high-end VTOL fixed-wing drones for surveying and mapping applications, enters the Balkan region and appoints Vekom GEO as its official distributor in Bulgaria. Through this collaboration, Vekom Geo will offer Marlyn drones to local surveyors, and provide them with support and first-line maintenance.

Vekom Geo, a leader in the field of geodesy and construction in the Balkans region, has been offering high-end geospatial solutions over the last three decades. As an official distributor of Leica Geosystems, Vekom Geo manages an authorised service centre, an accredited metrological calibration laboratory, as well as a permanent GNSS RTK network positioning service. Next to Leica Geosystems, Vekom Geo also distributes products of Hexagon Geospatial, Planet, and Amberg Technologies to name a few.

“We follow the needs of the market putting the demands of our customers first,” said Luka Fustic, General Manager at Vekom Geo. ”Their trust gives us the confidence to continue investing in modern and innovative technologies. We constantly improve the quality of our services and Atmos UAV VTOL fixed-wing drone, Marlyn, convinced us that is one of the leaders when it comes to aerial surveying. As such, our team is really happy to include Atmos UAV in our assortment” he added.

We constantly improve the quality of our services and Atmos UAV VTOL fixed-wing drone, Marlyn, convinced us that is one of the leaders when it comes to aerial surveying

Luka Fustic, General Manager at Vekom Geo

“As soon as we met with Vekom Geo at last year’s INTERGEO, we quickly realised that we share the same philosophy when it comes to continuous improvement and the way we see the geospatial industry” commented James McLachlan, Business Developer at Atmos UAV. “Backed up with a team of over 30 engineers, and being the most established provider in the whole region, we are looking forward to a strong and long-lasting collaboration”.

Backed up with a team of over 30 engineers, and being the most established provider in the whole region, we are looking forward to a strong and long-lasting collaboration

James McLachlan, Business Developer at Atmos UAV

Marlyn is the first fully autonomous hybrid (VTOL & Fixed-wing) drone for mapping and surveying. With its patented design that combines the best of both worlds, Marlyn can take-off vertically from anywhere, and map fast and efficiently producing high quality outputs for professional users. It is the only drone in its class that is built to perform even in harsh and windy conditions, while its easily swappable payloads provide operators with an unprecedented flexibility.

African drone business finalists announced

African Drone Forum
  • Ten African startups have been selected as finalists in the first African Drone Business Challenge.
  • The finalists represent 9 African countries – Benin, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
  • Each finalist will participate in a live pitch and award ceremony on Thursday, Feb 6 at the African Drone Forum (ADF) in Kigali, Rwanda.
  • The 10 finalists will compete for a share of £40,000 in prize money.

Kigali, January 2020: The African Drone Forum (ADF) is proud to announce the finalists of the first African Drone Business Challenge (ADBC), a business plan competition for African entrepreneurs to uncover new commercial use cases for drone applications that demonstrate a high potential for local impact.

The 10 finalists are: DRONE ERA (Benin), Africa Bees (DRC), Kenya Flying Labs (Kenya), MicroMek Limited (Malawi), Global Air Drone Academy (Nigeria/USA), Upshore Robotics (Nigeria), Integrated Aerial Systems (South Africa), Jembe Kilimo (Tanzania), JCKEG Solutions (Zambia), and Alley Capital Group (ACG) (Zimbabwe).

These finalists were selected from a competitive pool of almost 150 submissions from across 31 African countries. Applicants were asked to provide business concepts that focused on leveraging drone technology to generate new business opportunities. Proposals were evaluated by a panel of local and international judges and scored based on several factors including: potential for growth and sustainability, focus on using drones for social good, and the economic empowerment of African communities. In alignment with industry trends, a majority of the proposals were from early-stage startups in their first year of operation and concentrated in the mining, agriculture and healthcare sectors.

All 10 finalists will attend the ADF in Kigali in February and will participate in a two-day pitch boot camp facilitated by Carnegie Mellon University Africa (CMU Africa), along with exhibition space and networking opportunities. During the ADF Pitch and Award Ceremony, each startup team will present their business ideas to a panel of judges and audience of more than 800 people. Following the pitching, the grand prize and runner up awards will be announced with cash prizes totalling up to £40,000, sponsored by UKAID/DfID.

“The World Bank is proud to support these promising startups as they gain momentum and continue to push their business ideas forward. By participating in the African Drone Forum, entrepreneurs will get exposure to both local and global players within the drone industry,” said Yasser El-Gammal, World Bank Country Manager in Rwanda, the host country for the African Drone Forum. “The Forum is creating a unique platform for entrepreneurs to accelerate their objective of starting high-tech, high-growth companies, which will ultimately contribute to building a thriving and resilient drone ecosystem across Africa and improve service delivery to its citizens.”

The African Drone Forum will be held in Kigali, Rwanda on February 5-7, 2020.

Additional Information

  • For more information on the ADBC and full finalists’ profiles click here.
  • For more information on the African Drone Forum click here.
  • For more information on CMU Africa click here.
  • For more information on UKAID/DfID click here.

Farm Drone Sensor Showdown – a Free Online Course by Scholar Farms

Gregory Crutsinger (PhD) and the team have released a new online masterclass called the Farm Drone Sensor Showdown, built from years of experience using UAVs in precision agriculture.

San Francisco, CA. Scholar Farms, a drone educational consultancy that produces state-of-the-

art video training materials for drone mapping, today released their third online masterclass called the Farm Drone Sensor Showdown. This free course walks through the leading multispectral cameras on the market for vegetation mapping in agriculture, forestry, ecology, and other verticals.

The instructor, Dr. Gregory Crutsinger, explains, “The first questions I get in our in-person

workshops or other online courses are about the range of different multispectral cameras on the market. These sensors can be expensive and it takes a lot of effort to research what is available and going to meet your professional needs in the field. So, we created this sensor class as a guide to assist you in making an informed decision for the coming growing season.”

The free online course walks students through the different sensors for plant mapping, the drones that can carry the various payloads and the software options for image processing.

Amazon Prime Air is creating safe airspace for all drones, beyond delivery.

Bob Roth

In the not so distant future, more and more drones will be flying around delivering packages, performing utility work, taking real estate photos, and helping with emergency services. When that time comes, how do we ensure those drones can safely fly in our neighbourhoods? That’s the question that Bob Roth, a director with Amazon Prime Air, is working to solve. Roth and his team are developing a traffic management system that will support safe low-altitude airspace operations, enabling collaboration and communication between drones regardless of who is operating them.

“We will always prioritize safety first within our system,” said Roth. “People both on the ground and in the air are the most important to protect. We’re building a traffic management system with this as our guiding principle.”

Roth, an eight-year Amazonian who started his career leading software for the Amazon Kindle e-reader, admits there are challenges with introducing an entirely new way to manage traffic in the air.

“Similar to when I started with Kindle, this is a new frontier,” said Roth. “We’re at a stage now where we are working with industry and regulators to test how different drones from different operators can fly safely together.”

To do this testing Bob’s team has been busy working with NASA and Single European Sky ATM Research (SESAR), on trials using the Amazon air traffic management system.

He’s also chairing an industry standards group, working to build standards for drone traffic management — which are basically rules that help ensure all drones can fly safely in the air. All while, at the same time, building his global teams in Seattle, Tel Aviv, Cambridge, and Paris.

Navigating a drone through the air is very different than a car driving on a road. In the air, there are no roads or fixed routes so there are many more options to get from point A to point B.

To manage all these possible routes for the Prime Air vehicle fleet, the system Roth’s team is building is automated, which means that unlike the traditional air traffic control system used today which requires a lot of human intervention to guide manned aircraft, a sophisticated set of automated functions both on and off the drones will ensure safety and reliability. For additional safety, drones will fly at low altitudes (for example, below 400 feet) so it would be very unlikely for them to be in the same airspace as aeroplanes or helicopters.“

People both on the ground and in the air are the most important to protect. We’re building a traffic management system with this as our guiding principle.

Bob Roth – director, Amazon Prime Air”

The system also gives aviation authorities, like the FAA, the ability to track the drones in the airspace to ensure safety and create “no-fly zones” in times of emergency.

The traffic management system is easy to use for various operators in the same airspace because it will connect via the internet, LTE, or another cloud-based connection so each system can talk to the other. A drone flown by a crew filming for a movie supported by one traffic management provider will be able to be in the same airspace and communicate with a drone delivering a package being supported by another provider. It’s the same way mobile phones work today. A person who has a mobile phone with one wireless carrier can easily talk or text with someone who uses a different network because of the way they systems connect with each other.

In the end, all of this work is being done to benefit customers.

“Small aerial drones will soon make a big difference in our lives,” said Roth. “Whether it’s bringing medicine to a parent who has a sick child late at night or doing a search mission for a lost hiker. It’s exciting to be at the forefront of building technology that will benefit so many people.”

Building an air traffic management system is just one exciting area the Prime Air team is working on as they move toward making their vision of safely delivering packages to customers in 30 minutes or less a reality.

The Amazon Blog

Applied Navigation inks deal with AFRL

Applied Navigation is pleased to announce our software licensing agreement with AFRL to provide Vigilant Spirit Control Station to our users. Vigilant Spirit is largely unknown in the commercial world, but it will be a great fit for any autonomous system that needs to get work done on a daily basis. The delineation of roles and responsibilities between the human and machine is critically important and difficult to get right.

The 711th Wing has done a great job making an interface that leverages the strengths of both.

Jetoptera announces collaboration with Honeywell to expand fluidic propulsion system to defense market

Jetoptera, Inc. is collaborating with Honeywell Aerospace to bring fluidic propulsion to the defense market. The effort will leverage Jetoptera’s revolutionary fluidic propulsion system and Honeywell’s broad portfolio of proven turboshaft engines and auxiliary power units.

Fluidic Propulsive System (FPS) equipped aircraft enable runway independence, vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) or short take-off and landing (STOL) modes of flight. Jetoptera has designed the only proven fluidic propulsion system based on reliable turboshaft technologies augmented by fluidics, to create thrust without rotor blades, propellers or turbo-fans.

The company’s unique approach to producing thrust for powerful, vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL)-capable aircraft is ideal for platforms with a Maximum Takeoff Weight ranging from as little as 200 lbs. to beyond 4000 lbs. Current designs enable FPS equipped aircraft to fly speeds from 60-400 knots indicated air speed. Fluidic propulsion will be ideally suited for emerging requirements from the Department of Defense projects and programs for Cargo, Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting Aircraft.

Leveraging Honeywell’s APU engine technologies as an air source for the fluidic propulsion system gives a clear development path to rapidly meet the emerging needs of the Department of Defense.

“Our low-risk solution is fuel efficient, can utilize a variety of fuels such as JP-5, JP-8 or become fully electric, and is significantly quieter in forward flight operations,” said Todd Newton, Vice President of Business Development for Jetoptera. “The system is ideal for cargo UAS and unmanned aircraft in Group 3 and 4 in support of military requirements. Due to the ingenious design, the FPS also maintains a lower infrared signature because the thrusters output much cooler air than any other propulsion system, and because of the low emissivity of the materials used in the fabrication of the FPS thrusters.”

About Jetoptera

Jetoptera’s vision is to reimagine aircraft propulsion and enable aerial mobility for both cargo and people. The company has developed a unique propulsion system integrated with an airframe designed to maximize FPS efficiency. The Fluidic Propulsive System is ideal for vertical and short takeoff and landing applications (VTOL/STOL). The technology is scalable from smaller unmanned to larger manned aircraft, from defence to commercial markets, and enables an unmatched combination of speed, range, payload, efficiency, quietness, and manoeuvrability.

The defence mission of Jetoptera is to enable faster, safer and less detectable aircraft to support the Warfighter, in collaboration with the DoD and aircraft manufacturers. These aircraft will navigate a new vector for aircraft missions because the company’s patented Fluidic Propulsive System is a key technology capability for emerging requirements in Cargo Unmanned Aircraft Systems, ISR&T Unmanned Aircraft Systems, and eventually for the family of aircraft systems in the Future Vertical Lift Programs.

Connect with Jetoptera:

LinkedIn at

Facebook at

YouTube at

Heliguy wins place on £8M YPO drone framework contract

James Willoughby

DJI Gold Partner Heliguy has been awarded a major contract with YPO, as part of an £8million national framework agreement to supply drones and services to public sector organisations, primarily to blue light clients and the emergency services.

Heliguy, the UK’s largest UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) expert, has won a place on three parts of the four-lot contract – being selected to provide industry-leading drones; offer associated services, such as drone hire, lease options, and bespoke package bundles; and carry out drone repairs, maintenance and servicing.

Award-winning Heliguy – which delivers unrivalled one-stop-shop enterprise drone support – came through a rigorous and thorough tendering process to secure the deal, beating a range of high-calibre candidates in the process.

The contract, which runs until 2024 and can be renewed after three-and-a-half years, has been drawn up by YPO – in conjunction with the Home Office – to embrace drone technology and to bridge a gap in public procurement.

Drones have become a vital tool for public sector organisations, helping to improve safety, collect fast and accurate data, and provide vital situational awareness.

Heliguy Delighted To Win A Place On YPO Framework

Securing a place on the YPO framework – and being appointed onto three of the four lots – is a major coup for Heliguy.

Ruairi Hardman, Heliguy’s Business Development Manager, said it is testament to the company’s established reputation in the drone industry, its expert team and assured enterprise UAS programme.

The YPO framework aligns perfectly with Heliguy’s focus on enterprise clients. We support the drone programmes of more than 40 of the UK’s emergency services – including Greater Manchester Police – as well as industry powerhouses such as Balfour Beatty, National Grid, Costain-Skanska, Network Rail, and Sellafield Sites.

The contract is also inline with Heliguy’s Full Stack service, which is an innovative pay-monthly programme based around enterprise drone hire, servicing, instant access to the latest equipment, and flexibility to scale fleets.

Mr Hardman said: “We are extremely proud to have been awarded a national framework agreement with YPO, in conjunction with the Home Office, to provide drones, associated services, and repairs and maintenance.

“This contract award is testament to our ability to supply and support drone programmes at this level and the whole team at Heliguy looks forward to working with YPO. We are delighted that more and more public-sector organisations will be embracing drones and we look forward to helping them utilise this technology.”

Heliguy is one of DJI’s largest and trusted European enterprise channel partners and is recognised by the Chinese drone manufacturer as a Gold Partner, certifying that we can provide expert knowledge and services to interested enterprise customers.

Under the terms of the framework, YPO’s clients will leverage Heliguy’s full eco-system of solutions and comprehensive suite of drones, including leading DJI technology.

Heliguy is based in the North East of England, and as well as offering drone supply and support, the company has an in-house repair centre and research and development consultancy, and an expert training team, which delivers PfCO (Permission for Commercial Operations) courses around the UK and closed courses to the emergency services and other enterprise clients.

The award of the YPO contract comes just months after Heliguy won a place on a £2.6m Network Rail framework for drone supply, maintenance and training.

Heliguy has also recently expanded into the USA, opening a fulfilment centre in Texas to offer consumer and enterprise drones to the American market.

YPO Framework In More Detail

YPO specialises in public sector procurement, supplying products and services to England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The new national framework will support the emergency services and other public sector bodies in the purchase of drones and associated products and services.

Explaining the reasons behind the drone framework, a YPO spokesman said: “We were approached by the Home Office to discuss a gap in public procurement.

“Naturally we are very excited to be working with the Home Office and on a framework that incorporates drone technology, but we are also really pleased to be working closely with the police and fire and rescue teams.

“After much discussion and healthy deliberation, a lot structure was agreed, believed to be fit for purpose for all public-sector organisations, not just police and fire.

“The group involved in creating the framework has a wide knowledge base. This, coupled with different personal requirements, is what will make the framework a benefit to emergency services and the wider public sector.”

Draganfly Releases New Payloads to Increase Efficiency and Data Collection Quality

Draganfly Inc. (CSE: DFLY) (OTCQB: DFLYF) (FSE: 3U8) (“Draganfly” or the “Company”), an award-winning, industry-leading manufacturer within the commercial Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (“UAV”) and Unmanned Vehicle Systems (“UVS”) space, today announced three new specialized payload offerings, which are intended to expand agricultural research and environmental monitoring using drones.

Draganfly’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Draganfly Innovations Inc., has developed these new payload options in collaboration with research experts in agricultural and water resources fields. These new camera packages, which have now been added to Draganfly’s existing product line, are intended to increase efficiency and improve the spatial and spectral quality of actionable data collected.

The Corning microHSI hyperspectral sensor is capable of recording up to 155 user-selectable light bands, which allows researchers to narrow their focus to the specific light spectrums they want to target. This sensor is being used across various industries including precision agriculture, environmental monitoring, and oil & gas.

Draganfly now offers and supports this sensor package on the Draganflyer Commander UAV platform as well as the DJI M600 Pro.

The first of two dual-sensor packages is the 100MP Phase One Industrial iXM-100 still camera paired with the MicaSense RedEdge-MX multispectral 5-band sensor, which offers simultaneous capture of multispectral and high-resolution visual imagery. These two cameras are impressive in their own right, but what makes this payload package even more powerful is the payload control system that allows for georeferencing and automatic, simultaneous camera shutter and data logging. This dual payload is available now and supported on the DJI M600 Pro platform.

The second of the two dual-sensor packages is the 42MP Sony a7R still camera paired with the MicaSense RedEdge-MX multispectral 5-band sensor. This payload offering, like the above-mentioned dual sensor payload, also offers simultaneous capture of multispectral and high-resolution visual imagery, but at a more attractive price point.

“We are excited to offer systems and equipment to researchers and government agencies looking to improve on their current data collection methods. We’re confident these payload offerings can add immense value” stated Cory Baker, Production Manager, Draganfly Innovations.

The sensor packages in these new payload offerings have been integrated with the aircraft’s autopilot, flight control system, and mission planning software to allow automatic planning, push-button flight execution, and data collection driven by the user’s resolution and data quality requirements.

These specialized payloads have been developed with agricultural and environmental research organizations in mind. University-led research programs and federal agencies that Draganfly collaborated with include the University of Saskatchewan’s Plant Phenotyping and Imaging Research Centre (P2IRC), the University of Saskatchewan’s Global Water Futures, and the Government of Canada’s Department of Agriculture and Agri-Food.

Draganfly Inc. (CSE: DFLY; OTCQB: DFLYF; FSE: 3U8) is the creator of quality, cutting-edge, UVS and software that revolutionizes the way people do business. Recognized as being at the forefront of technology for over 21 years, Draganfly is an award-winning, industry-leading manufacturer within the commercial UAV and UVS space, serving the public safety, agriculture, industrial inspections and mapping and surveying markets. Draganfly is a company driven by passion, ingenuity and the need to provide efficient solutions and first-class services to its customers around the world with the goal of saving time, money and lives.

For more information on Draganfly, please visit us at For additional investor information, visit searching DFLY or visit searching 3U8.

DJI Dealer AirWorks Reveals Its Online Educational Platform for Drone Products

DJI Airworks

AirWorks believes in empowering others to dream big: its online learning platform DJI Educational gives anyone the chance to become familiar with all DJI products, as well as drone regulations. All courses also teach students how to use the DJI App, fundamental for leveraging all of the drone’s features.

The main benefits of learning through Airworks DJI Educational:

  • educe chances of flying incidents
  • Acquire in-depth knowledge of the DJI app
  • Seamless learning experience on any device
  • Continued support throughout the course
  • Certificate of Participation upon finishing the course
  • Free courses available for those who buy a DJI Product at AirWorks

Studies have shown that attending courses about technical functioning and piloting of drones significantly reduces the chances of incidents. By learning more about the specific model of drone one is flying, the chance of having any incidents is reduced by 70%. Attending a specific course also gives students the chance to use the drone to its maximum potential.

DJI Educational courses are organized in video courses, forums and quizzes that allow users to have an engaging learning experience and feel confident in their piloting skills.

During the lessons, continued assistance of an online instructor is guaranteed in order to solve any doubts. At the end of the course, a final exam gives the user a chance to show what has been learned. Passing the exam will result in obtaining an Official Certificate from the Airworks DJI Educational platform.

The platform is designed to give users a seamless experience and can be accessed through desktop and mobile at any time.

To show every customer how much AirWorks cares about their education, anyone who buys a product from the AirWorks DJI Dubai Dealer (either physical store or online) will receive a free online course! That means receiving both the product and the knowledge necessary use it in the best and most efficient way.

For everyone else, the courses are still available for purchase through the online learning platform DJI Educational.

In a world where continued education seems to be the most valuable asset anyone can have, AirWorks is dedicated to offering the best online DJI education. Start learning today!