In Part 1 of our look at the top commercial drone blogs, we listed sites by pros like Colin Snow and organizations like Airware, but we knew we weren’t going to be able to list them all. Even with this installment we’ll be well short of the incredible resources that are out there, but this should round out the essential sources.
A quick reminder of the arbitrary rules that have been established for inclusion…
- only independent sites or blogs are eligible
- the blog must be completely or at least partially focused on commercial UAV topics
- content on these sites is centered on original analysis and insights
- the author must be identified
Most of sites on these lists are not updated on an incredibly frequent basis but it will be worthwhile to keep an eye on new posts in whatever way works best for you. Please let us know via Twitter or email if you have any other suggestions around sites that we might have missed.
Who’s Writing: Iain Butler has been excited about everything that could fly since he was a small child, and that passion can be seen in his writing as well as in his profession. He is the founder of Kextrel, which provides multi-rotor and fixed-wing drone services in a number of different markets. He’s one of the many professionals whose interest in drones and UAVs goes back multiple technology iterations.
What sort of content: To say that Ian goes in-depth doesn’t do the term justice. His most recent post is over 4,000 words with many complimentary pictures, and older posts showcase a similar level of depth. As you can imagine, he’s able to get specific about everything from the logistics of using autonomous fixed-wing mapping drones to the importance of a whole system approach. He writes in a conversational tone, as if you were sitting down for a coffee and had just asked him a few questions.
A Few Highlights: The massive 4,000-word article I reference above covers mapping a vineyard in Paso Robles in California, and Iain lays out details around autonomous fixed-wing mapping and using off the shelf components. His exploration of what the creation of a new startup meant to his company offers a rarely explained perspective, while his run through of the AMA Expo is a great look at a relevant event and the community as a whole.
Who’s Writing: I’m somewhat breaking my own rules here, because the authors of the content on the Skyward blog are not always identified. There are plenty of articles that do have an author with their avatar and title listed out, but some don’t have anyone listed at all. That said, everyone from coordinators all the way to the CEO at Skyward have their names listed on articles, so you still know where this content is coming from.
What sort of content: Skyward makes it easy for operators to track the specific information and airspace data needed for business, insurance or regulatory requirements, and as you might imagine they make it a priority to highlight such logistics with their content. You’ll see content published by various Skyward representatives, such as CEO Jonathan Evans, but the blog also features content from flight instructors, training directors and plenty other professionals. All of it comes together to create a voice that isn’t coming from one person but is nonetheless cohesive.
A Few Highlights: It’s no surprise that Skyward wants to focus on the ways in which software can impact UAV operators, and you won’t find better reasons to do so than the four that were mentioned in a recent post. Patrick Sherman listed out six reasons to invest in drone training while Nick Rogers rounded out an excellent series that talked through what it meant to petition for and receive a Section 333 exemption. That process might be set to change with a final ruling from the FAA set to come out this year, but the experience will continue to be relevant as individuals and organizations apply for approval for things not covered by forthcoming rules like BLOS and night-time flying.
Who’s Writing: While many of the blogs listed here will feature a guest post or posters, Drone Coalition is set up to specifically showcase multiple voices. Jeff Foster, Gretchen West and Eric Cheng are just a few of the experts that are contributing to the site, and with that many authors, content is refreshingly updated far more often than if it had been based around a single effort or voice.
What sort of content: While the content on Drone Coalition is more focused on consumer products and concerns than any other site on this list, they do have a dedicated category to commercial issues. With experts like Lisa Ellman and George Krieger contributing to the site, a focus on commercial content is clearly a priority. Each author writes in a distinctive style which provides a different perspective around a given topic.
A Few Highlights: George Krieger’s Introduction to Aerial 3D Model Mapping offers a look at the amazing capture and display process of UAVs. In Jeff Foster’s 2016 Drone Buyers Guide article you’ll find various sections that are dedicated to showing viewers the options they have around everything from Advanced Quads to X-frames to fixed wings drones. It’s a great preview and review of the various tools and technologies that are available.
Who’s Writing: While it appears that Drone Deploy’s Ian Smith writes the majority of the articles on this site, he isn’t always listed as the author, and none of the articles make it a point to highlight who’s doing the writing. While that fact isn’t ideal, the site is updated on a fairly regular basis and contains some very insightful articles which help counteract this downside.
What sort of content: With a mission to make aerial data accessible to anyone with a drone, it’s no surprise to find the content on Drone Deploy focused on how UAVs can impact a business. Articles will sometimes be presented as case studies and other times as press releases, but the focus on practical elements like ROI and logistics is something that professionals in various markets will be able to appreciate.
A Few Highlights: The case study which detail drones building ROI at construction sites is particularly insightful, although being able to answer what NDVI can do for precision agriculture professionals in part I and part II goes into even further depth. A case study that explores mapping drones for professional surveyors offers professionals multiple takeaways regardless of the vertical they’re working in.
Who’s Writing: Chad Colby works with progressive farmers, leading companies and government agencies around the world to provide deeper understanding of new technology and recommendations on its practical applications. He is well known for his industry-leading work as an advocate for commercial unmanned aerial system use in agriculture.
What sort of content: While you’ll see far more updates from Chad on his Twitter account, his blog is where he shares in-depth knowledge. He’s provided information and demonstrations at a majority of U.S. agribusiness companies and shares key insights from these meetings on his blog. As a lifelong “geek”, his passion for UAV technology comes from a place of enthusiasm, and that sense of excitement is evident in everything he writes.
A Few Highlights: A question that so many professionals have is the simple one of “where do I start?” and Chad lays out many answers to that simple question. He explains why UAVs are not like other pieces of technology users just power up and use, but also asks the questions professionals need to ask themselves before they invest their time and money in the technology. For anyone looking for more detail, he wrote up his thoughts on the game changing new tech in the iPad Pro from Apple, and what kind of a difference it can make to precision agriculture professionals.