Announcing Flight Logging & Metrics

We're excited to announce the Airnest flight logging & metrics platform. By uploading flight logs or simply flying with the Airnest app pilots are able to:

  • Playback flights in real time
  • Receive moment-by-moment flight metrics including battery performance, drone orientation, GPS status, speed, location, altitude, and more.
  • Share flights by linking or embedding the flight player
  • Retain flight data for compliance needs and monitoring drone performance

Pilots can sync flight automatically when using the Airnest app or upload logs from other services such as DroneDeploy.  Soon, we will offer the ability to upload logs from DJI GO and other providers.

Pilots can upload unlimited logs for free.

Game of Drones - Is Aerial Combat the Next Big Drone Sport?

Over the past year or so FPV drone racing has really taken off. It's all set to become a mainstream sport after a TV deal with ESPN, and more and more people are becoming aware of it. But quietly in the background, another drone sport is starting to make some waves: Drone combat.

Drone combat is an invention of the Aerial Sports League (ASL), a community of pilots and drone enthusiasts who hold FPV racing and combat events around the US. Drone combat might sounds like a great way to smash up a drone you've spent loads of time and money on, but it's quickly becoming a popular event at ASL's Drone Sports Worlds, often found at Maker Faires and soon to set up permanently in San Francisco. 

So what are the rules? Well, in standard drone combat there are two drones fighting head to head in an arena. The aim is a simple one: knock your opponent’s drone out of the sky and don't get taken down. The action begins with each drone sat on the ground in a starting position. At the sound of the buzzer, all hell breaks loose.

Each player begins with 3 points. One point is lost every time a player’s drone touches the floor, and the first player to lose all three points is declared the loser. It's last drone standing. Or flying. 

While ASL does have regulations surrounding the maximum size and weight of each drone, there's plenty of room for creativity when it comes to weapons. Although limited for safety reasons, this year's drones have included one that fires a net to down enemies, while others have resorted to mid-air collisions to beat opponents. 

As you can see from the videos in this post, drone combat looks like a lot of fun But it's also proved a great way to get newcomers interested in drone technology. In particular there's been plenty of interest from the younger generation, as proved by the 15-Year-Old taking the regular competitions by storm... 

A Sport Under Threat

Despite being a relatively new drone sport, there are already threats to the existence of drone combat. If the California legislature has anything to do with it, weaponizing drones will soon be a crime, and ASL's best pilots could be facing thousands of dollars in fines if they compete.

drone combat

Clearly, though the bills passing through the state legislature are being ratified with public safety in mind, ASL founder Marque Cornblatt explains in a blog on the company site that these laws "do not take into consideration the popularity and educational value of drone combat games.” As a result, “With the help of the EFF and others, ASL hopes to amend these bills to allow drone sports to continue legally.”

Cornblatt is keen to point out the strict safety measures in place at every drone combat event hosted by ASL, and wants the bills amended to help the growing drone combat sport continue to thrive.

“The ASL combat arena features a net-enclosed safety cage, strict safety procedures and mandatory compliance with all local, state and FAA imposed restrictions.  The ASL has hosted hundreds of pilots and exhibited combat competitions and training for over 250,000 live spectators in dozens of events.  The drone combat community has a spotless safety record and proven to be a prime example of safe, friendly and educational use of drones for good.”

Drone Photos of the Week - Volume 15

We like aerial photography. So much so that we've spent a lot of time building an app that helps you capture more precise and creative shots than ever before. As a kind of celebration of what we do, each week we've been putting together a collection of the best in drone photography, sourcing our images from all around the world.  

The following pictures have been taken from Dronestagram, the social media sharing site for drone pilots. We hope that you'll find them impressive and inspiring in equal measure. We want to show you what's possible, and help you make the most of your drone. 

If you want to be featured in our weekly photography round-up, feel free to send you best shots to us on Twitter (@FlyAirnest) using the hashtag '#ShotWithAirnest'.   

Here's this week's top 6. Sea if you can spot the theme...

 Cala Pira, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy -  By   Enrico Travel the world

Cala Pira, Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy - By Enrico Travel the world

 A fisherman in Pahang, Malaysia - By sydeen

A fisherman in Pahang, Malaysia - By sydeen

 Overlooking the Baltic Sea, Northern Germany- By  Norman_Nollau

Overlooking the Baltic Sea, Northern Germany- By Norman_Nollau

 Jiyeh, Lebanon - By  sass

Jiyeh, Lebanon - By

 El Cenote Azul, Mexico - By jelipegomez

El Cenote Azul, Mexico - By jelipegomez

 Surfers in Capbreton, France - By  cvigna

Surfers in Capbreton, France - By cvigna

How Drones are Laying the Foundations for the Future of Construction

On the face of it, drones and construction sites seem a strange combination. But you'd be surprised at how many construction sites are already relying on aerial capabilities and making use of an eye in the sky. 

Increasingly, clever drone software is allowing commercial operators to map out sites in with precision, before, during and after construction work has taken place. And with the price of both software and hardware beginning to fall, radical improvements in efficiency are no longer as expensive as they once might have been.

As an example, the MIT Technology Review recently featured a construction operation in downtown Sacramento. “Once per day, several drones automatically patrol the Sacramento work site, collecting video footage. That footage is then converted into a three-dimensional picture of the site, which is fed into software that compares it to computerized architectural plans as well as the construction work plan showing when each element should be finished. The software can show managers how the project is progressing, and can automatically highlight parts that may be falling behind schedule.”

This is a great example of smart software able to incorporate drone data into the understanding of a bigger picture. In this case, a constant stream of data is fed into an established 3D picture of the site, enabling managers to see how work is progressing and if there are problems that need to be solved. 

Legal Questions Remain

There are still a few outstanding issues holding back more construction companies from embracing the obvious potential of drone technology. Not least are issues over privacy, liability, and insurance. 

First and foremost, commercial operators in the US are required to have gained an exemption from the FAA in order to fly for business purposes. On top of that, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the invasion of privacy of workers and nearby residents. Many standard commercial insurance providers don't have anything in place for drone liability.  

In terms of safety, construction companies would do well to only use qualified, experienced pilots. However, new and improved flight planning software, such as that offered by ourselves here at Airnest, is a smarter way to draw up paths and let the drone do the hard work or you. 

What effect will Xiaomi's New Drone Have on the Consumer Market?

In case you missed it, last week Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi announced the launch of its new drone, the Mi. After weeks of teasers and leaks, the world finally got to see what could be the next big thing in the consumer drone industry.

xiaomi mi drone

One thing that not many people expected was the impact that the release, scheduled for July, could have on the consumer market. This is because not only have Xiaomi introduced a drone similar in specification to DJI's leading Phantom series, but the company has done so at a price point far below the industry standard. 

Xiaomi has made its name producing surprisingly good quality consumer electronics for a fraction of competitors' prices. But how exactly will the Mi Drone stack up against the opposition? Well, it'll come with a 4K camera, - there's a standard version for those who don't want to extend beyond 1080p - a three-axis gimbal that corrects itself 2,000 times per second, and a remote control that connects to your Xiaomi phone. On top of that, the replaceable battery promises nearly 30 minutes of flight time, and the Mi has a bunch of smart software designed to ensure accurate positioning, location tracking, geo-fencing around no fly zones, flight path planning, automatic take-off, landing and autopilot.

Aside from all of that though, the Mi drone costs just $460. And that's for the 4K version. $460! You can pay $80 less for the model with the standard camera. Compare that to DJI's new Phantom 4, which comes in at $1,400, and the $800 Phantom 3 4K, and you can begin to see why this move could make waves in the consumer industry. 

 Xiaomi's Mi Drone

Xiaomi's Mi Drone

However, obviously Xiaomi has none of the reputation and respectability of its established Chinese counterparts DJI and Yuneec. Because of this it's unlikely to fly off the shelves straight away - especially in the US, as the company is yet to confirm that the drone will be sold outside of China. Despite that, the $460 price puts it well in the range of people interested in trying out a drone, but put off by the huge investment required at the top end of the spectrum. If the Mi drone can do everything it says it can do, it's certainly worth a gamble. 

Even if the Mi drone disappoints, there are two important consequences its release will have for the industry as a whole. The first is that its very creation proves that it’s possible to make a drone with high-end components and a lengthy feature list for a lot less than you'd think given DJI's pricing structure. Second, other competitors, especially those also based in China, will feel the pricing pressure from this new contender on the block

And that's assuming the worst. If the Mi Drone proves a success and can do all of the things it says on the box, then it will be a plausible rival to DJI's Phantom series, and could force big changes in the consumer industry. 

Drone Photos of the Week - Volume 14

It's that time of the week again. The time when we share some of the best aerial photography from around the world. Today we've got highlights from Denmark, France, the Maldives and Israel, with snowy mountains, stunning coastal scenery and a forest or two. 

The idea of these weekly posts is to help inspire your inner photographer, in the hope that, with Airnest by your side, you will go out there and make the most of your drone. These photos have been taken from drone social media site Dronestagram. Here's this week's top six...

(Want to be included? Tweet your best shots to @FlyAirnest, using the hashtag #ShotWithAirnest)

 Dinard, Brittany - By  wanaiifilms

Dinard, Brittany - By wanaiifilms

 Divers off the coast near Tel Aviv, Isreal - By  eyalasaf

Divers off the coast near Tel Aviv, Isreal - By eyalasaf

 A well hidden playground in the forest near Naestved, Denmark - By mbernholdt

A well hidden playground in the forest near Naestved, Denmark - By mbernholdt

 High above the ocean in the Maldives - By  seefromthesky

High above the ocean in the Maldives - By seefromthesky

 High above the Swiss Alps

High above the Swiss Alps

 A stunning sunset in northern Germany - By  flyCo Media

A stunning sunset in northern Germany - By flyCo Media

Commercial Drone Software - 5 Areas of Improvement for Developers

No matter which reports you check out, the commercial drone industry is expected to be worth billions of dollars in a matter of years. And with applications ranging from precision agriculture to inspection and maintenance services, it's easy to see why. 

But, as we've touched on in the past, the potential, and to an extent the necessity of commercial software, far outweighs hardware possibilities. Plenty of progress has already been made in this space, but there are five areas where further software innovation can be expected... 

Smarter drones are needed

This may sound simplistic, but making drones smarter is in the interests of both the consumer and commercial sectors. By smarter drones we mean refining the software that controls them, whether that's perfecting the art of obstacle avoidance, or devising effective geo-fencing techniques. 

Development in this area is vital for the commercial drone industry for two reasons. Firstly, it goes without saying that smarter, more efficient, less accident-prone drones are going to be a whole lot more cost effective than the current generation.

Second, and perhaps most importantly, smarter drones means less accidents, which means less negative press and bad publicity. The only thing that is going to ease restrictive commercial drone legislation is trust. For that, we need proof that drones are safe around people, and evidence that they can be trusted to carry out tasks without incident. Without smarter drone software, the industry will struggle to take off and reach its potential.     

Introducing drones to the Internet of Things

This is perhaps another way that drones need to become smarter. But still, it warrants its own heading. If drones are to fit seamlessly and efficiently into existing systems, in agriculture, delivery or even inspection and maintenance, they need to be able to communicate easily with existing devices. This is a big challenge, whether it's continuing to develop smart software that can act as the middle man between user and drone, or developing more complex autonomous systems that can work without supervision.     

Data collection

commercial software

Currently drones are being used in a number of sectors to collect detailed information about, among other things, farms, real estate and the environment. Armed with clever sensors and cameras, they are able to provide services from above that previously would have required an expensive, time-consuming plane or helicopter. There is plenty of room for development in the software that governs this data collection. From real-time aerial mapping to live 3D modelling, who knows what the future could hold. Bear in mind also that there will be ahuge demand for sector-specific software.     

Data storage & analysis

There's little point in gathering mountains of useful information if it can't be sifted through, analysed and organized. This is a huge area of potential development for those in the business of commercial software. Although several companies are already leading the way, such as PrecisionHawk in the world of agriculture, developers with no previous drone experience still have a lot to offer. The essentials, from storage to inventories to connected social platforms, all offer areas of potential for SaaS providers. Again, there may well soon be a demand for software specific to each individual area of the industry. 

A lack of industry-wide software standards

One of the biggest challenges facing developers in the drone industry at the moment is the lack of industry standards across the board. Drones are relatively new, and it shouldn't therefore be a surprise that there are still many ways of doing things and a lack of consensus. But this mishmash of approaches represents a barrier to developers looking to get involved in the industry. 

Software developers looking to build applications for the drone have two choices. Either they develop an entire application from scratch, or they can go ahead and use a standard PaaS provider. However, it’s likely that they will struggle to find any that offer more than just the underlying infrastructure with generic software components embedded. If you’re building an app for your electrical goods marketplace or online dating site, this isn’t going to be a problem. But developers in the drone industry are working with complicated hardware and dealing with capabilities which still relatively young.   

Because drone hardware, software and the industry in general remain in the early stages of adoption and development, there simply isn’t enough middleware to help boost the next generation of industry-specific drone software solutions. This is both a shame and an opportunity. On the one hand it slows down the progress of drone software innovation, but on the other it leaves a gap in the PaaS market for a drone-specific provider to step in.  

Drone Photos of the Week - Volume 13

It's that time of the week again. The time when we bring you the best drone photography from around the world. The idea is that the pictures below will inspire you to get out there and make the most of your drone, with a little help from the Airnest app, of course.  

Most of the images below are sourced from drone social network Dronestagram. But if you would like your best shots to be included, feel free to tweet them to us at @FlyAirnest. We'd be happy to feature the best next week. 

Here's this week's top five...

 Merida, Mexico - By  dronesolutions

Merida, Mexico - By dronesolutions

 Mykonos, Greece -  By  fab drone

Mykonos, Greece - By fab drone

 Taipei, Taiwan - By  CalTham

Taipei, Taiwan - By CalTham

 Tobago Cays, St Vincent and the Grenadines -  By   alex croisiere grenadines   

Tobago Cays, St Vincent and the Grenadines - By alex croisiere grenadines 

 Taal Volcano, Philippines - By  ronnel4530

Taal Volcano, Philippines - By ronnel4530

France to Deploy Anti-Drone Technology to at Euro 2016

French security services are putting in place measures to prevent any drone-related incidents occurring during this summer's Euro 2016 tournament. The move comes in the wake of the Paris terrorism attacks of November 2015, and the tournament is all set to be one of the most well defended sporting events in history.

Dealing with potential threats from the air represents a new challenge for sporting security forces, who usually only have to focus on crowd control. But in a country increasingly wary of the threat of terrorism, no stone is being left unturned. Euro 2016 security chief Ziad Khoury has admitted that drone incidents are unlikely, but is refusing to leave any stone unturned. "With drones, it could be curiosity. It could be fans. It could be something more malicious," he said. "Nothing has been identified in particular. It's simply that we are working on all hypotheses so we could respond." 

 High security has been a constant theme at sporting events since the Paris attacks last year

High security has been a constant theme at sporting events since the Paris attacks last year

No-fly zones will be declared over all 10 stadiums in use throughout the tournament in France, as well as training grounds for the 24 teams involved. The idea is that expanded aerial security perimeters will keep all drone pilots at a considerable distance from crowds. But how do security teams intend to enforce these no-fly zones?

Khoury said, "The idea is not to destroy the drones, because there could be collateral damage, notably if they crashed into the public. It is to prevent them from flying over the stadiums and perhaps to arrest their pilots."  

"In most stadiums and for most matches anti-drone measures — which are quite innovative — will be deployed, working with the state, which will interfere with drones and take control of them if they are spotted."

This suggests that French police will take the safer option, and deploy technology designed to hijack rogue drones. Such capabilities have already been brought to market by Finmeccanica . You can read more about the Falcon Shield drone defence system here