email response from a UAV business

I recently sent an inquiry to a UAV business owner asking for UAV and software recommendations for someone new to it. I included my budget ($1000) and my industry I currently work in as GIS Analyst where I would like to experiment with this new awesome technology.

Curious to hear from diydrones how valid the following response I received is ?


"1. You need to make yourself aware of the FAA regulations on this sort of application. They more likely than not, would not allow it. The fines are $10,000 and up. Also, if in Texas, there is a state law concerning the use of drones that would impact a pipeline application. The fines here are $1,000 PER PICTURE.

2. We work within the rules and also have considerable liability insurance coverage. We also have licensed pilots on our team that increase the level of safety.

3. For $1,000 about all you could do is take some non-geo video or nice pictures to look at. It is akin to using a Garmin GPS or your iPhone to do GPS mapping. Certainly it can be done, but in terms of quality, you get what you pay for. (Some applications may be OK with that level of quality.) But the consumer products simply do not provide a way of mapping the same way we do with more expensive and professional tools. Otherwise, we would be using them instead! We are doing some R&D using small UAS, but so far, it is like trying to use a shovel to dig a swimming pool when a backhoe is readily available."

You need to be a member of diydrones to add comments!

Join diydrones

Email me when people reply –


  • If the FAA doesn't allow it, then nobody can, so 1 and 2 are somewhat mutually exclusive.

    For 3 he has a point I think. If you are new to the technology, don't expect to get really great results the first time. you need to ramp up your experience, figure out how to eliminate vibrations and all the other stuff they're already doing. It depends.. if you have the budget to experiment and build the xp, then go for it.

    There are tools that allow you to get good precision down to 30cm or so. The whole thing depends on two issues:

    - If you are concerned about *scale* and 30cm accuracy for a model or picture is good enough for you, you don't need the expensive equipment. This means the product scale looks and feels correct, but it may appear shifted when you load it into google earth.

    - if you're concerned about correct georeferencing of the entire product (absolute accuracy), better than 2 meters, then you need the equipment he mentions.

    For 2 meters absolute accuracy, you can just use the gps of the vehicle.

    If you need 0.3-2m accuracy, you can use professional services or buy your own RTK GPS module, they are around $50 and you can use them over USB with a laptop. If you happen to be in an RTK network area, you can probably get a login and get better than 10cm even, on par with professional services. But it does require substantial efforts to read into the technology and figure out how to work the tools.

    If you need better than 0.3m, then you need professional services.

    • Thanks for the info Gerard.

      Why would he make those inaccurate claims in 1 and 2?
      Scared of diy competition?

      I have extensive experience using ArcGIS and other GIS tools. I have seen videos on youtube of someone claiming to have processed 2cm resolution using ArcGIS and a UAV under $1000. Does that seem realistic?

      • I don't mean it's inaccurate, but it says that the FAA would more than likely not allow it "on the application", plus the state law of $1000 per picture. Then in 2, it says they work "within the rules". If the application is disallowed, then 2 is irrelevant, even if they work within the rules on other applications. They probably do know about the rules and what's involved, regulations and having insurance cover is a good sign of a professional.

        If you do want to get started, you're looking at $2k-3k, not $1k. There are batteries, transmitters and all kinds of other equipment and spares to purchase, plus shipping costs.

        I am more from the ap and uav world, so I had to catch up on the GIS side of things. I wrote a wiki on project-ion (github) that shows some of the applications there. If you have anything to contribute (articles, applications, technniques), feel free to mail the email address there so I can include it some time.

        That arcgis/uav guy may have been me:

This reply was deleted.


Hiroki Tanaka liked Hiroki Tanaka's profile
Oct 13
Derrick Davies liked lisa TDrones's profile
Sep 23