The gamification of building drone pilot experience that the DroneUp app developed continues to hold my interest and there are just a few remaining badges I’m pursuing at this time. My plans of completing the requirements for a couple of them were put on hold during the holidays due to getting ill and weather not permitting drone flights. But, just before the holidays kicked in, I was able to complete my EagleView Assess onboarding requirements and earn the related badge as well as being on deck to fly Assess inspection missions.
EagleView provides geospatial software, aerial imagery, and analytics solutions for construction, solar, government, insurance and utilities industries. Among these solutions, their Assess product leverages proprietary technology, exclusive partnerships, and a growing drone pilot network to provide efficient and cost-effective visual inspections for insurance claims and adjustments. Their partnership with Skydio, an american drone manufacturer based in Redwood, CA, has developed a drone inspection solution that is incredibly efficient, safe, and a pleasure to operate, in this drone pilot’s opinion. EagleView leverages the DroneUp pilot network to recruit, train, and onboard pilots to provide this service through their app.
I first engaged DroneUp to inquire about the requirements for this badge a few months ago and they connected me with the EagleView team, who work closely with the DroneUp operations team. The onboarding process was similar to other networks in establishing the credentials of the pilot, verifying insurance, and providing online training in the form of videos, thorough SOPs, and sample deliverables. The last step in the process is the test flight, which as mentioned above, includes utilizing the Skydio 2 UAS to capture the roof imaging for the inspection. The EagleView Assess app is used to guide the pilot to not only fly the rof capture, but also guides the comprehensive home/property walk and image capture using a mobile device. Overall, the app itself is very intuitive and provides a great framework to capture all the images needed for a remote adjuster to complete their work. For my test capture, I was still using my iPhone 8, which is certainly a capable enough device, but I found it lacked a large enough screensize to make the tasks most effective. This, among other experiences over the past few months was the final deciding factor to invest in the latest iPad Mini as my dedicated drone operations device. While I still intend on using the DJI Smart Controller for most flight operations that don’t require iOS specific applications, I’m looking forward to the iPad Mini to make flight operations, image capture and review, and delivery of assets more efficient and effective while in the field.
EagleView provided me with a complete Skydio 2 drone kit, equipped with everything needed to complete multiple inspections per day. I spent a little time with software and firmware updates for both the drone and the EagleView Assess app ahead of my mission date, which the team scheduled. The test flight simulates an actual client inspection and my brother-in-law agreed to let me use their home as the subject.
The first task in the inspection is a thorough walkaround of the outside of the property and home to capture elevation and detailed views of doors, windows, siding, gutters, and other notable features, taking note of any anomalies, large personal property items, and making the appropriate notations. Image management via the app was easy and intuitive, even on the small screen of the iPhone 8.
The next step is the drone flight to capture the roof images, definitely the more exciting and interesting aspect of the inspection. This was the first time I had launched the Skydio 2, but I had watched a number of videos reviewing its flight operations. Based on all the onboarding documentation and videos, the Skydio 2 operation steps were spot on as expected and its performance flawless.
The Skydio 2 technology for obstacle avoidance is top-notch and while I had a few anxious moments as I watched it buzz over the ridgelines of the 3-story roof, it performed its automated flight plan quickly and without incident. The flight plan starts with a validation step, where the Skydio 2 flies to about 90′ above the home to take a top-down mapping image for the app to analyze and map out the roof facets. The drone pilot confirms the facets are mapped accurately and ensures the boundaries of the home are mapped to safely avoid any overhanging obstacles or detached buildings in close proximity that may have been included in the overview image. Once the facets are verified, the drone mission is ready to launch.
The Skydio 2 goes to work flying in a mostly-predictable flight pattern, back and forth across each facet of the roof, adjusting to maintain a safe, but close enough distance to capture the detailed, high-res photos. At times, it seemed to move on to another angle or facet before completing its current target, but the various angles and directions actually contribute to the overall exceptional resolution of the model it creates from the flight capture. For the size of the home, I expected to possibly need a few battery swaps, which the app facilitates without too much fuss, but was able to complete the entire flight pattern with just a single battery swap. The Skydio 2 returned to its launch point and continues the flight from that same point with extreme precision.
Once both the roof and home photo captures are completed and all annotations and QA of the operation are finalized, the app stitches together all the assets to deliver over wi-fi and/or cellular connection in the background so the pilot can continue to the next job location. The pilot simply marks that job complete and the EagleView team takes it from there. The DroneUp team is available throughout the mission for any support needed and once the job is verified as complete, payment is scheduled and the pilot is ready to take on the next mission.
If you’re interested in learning more about the EagleView Assess product, flying the Skydio 2, or the DroneUp pilot network, feel free to reach out or leave a comment/question below to start a discussion. You can also find more information about my experience with acquiring badges for DroneUp in my previous posts.