DroneBase is one of the world's largest, professional drone service provider networks. Think of it as "Uber for drone pilots". If you need a drone operator to come accomplish a mission for you, chances are, you can get one through DroneBase.
Dan Burton is CEO of DroneBase and has been leading the charge at the Southern California-based company since its inception. The company has grown to become a premier name in the DSP (drone service provider) space and represents an approach that can truly scale as the industry grows. DroneBase is also taking experimental approaches to software with an AR (augmented reality) app.
[1:08] Hey everybody in here coming at you from drone deploy
[1:21] It’s great to be here I always love coming to drone deploy office cuz there’s almost always a drone flying off your roof.
[1:34] Okay now we’re
[1:35] Yeah so
[1:36] Drones and free food I mean that it’s a compelling 1/2.
[1:39] So first of all then okay CEO founder of
[1:52] Of course of course so I was.
You lucky to be really an early adopter of drone systems I had served in the US military so was was a US Marine and I should
an infantry officer so just a grunt interesting Lee enough while I was in the service I watch these systems.
When I got in a drone was a global hawk took off my Runway landed on a Runway looks like an airplane.
50 people to fly at even though no one was on it very much a Mainframe computer.
Maybe over a hundred million dollars then Predator Reaper a little smaller system that is big as a truck still takes off of Runway lands on a Runway but you’re typically talking to a pilot that’s working out of.
Erica Creech Air Force Base in Nevada.
[2:56] And you’re overseas.
[2:57] And you’re right in your ear exactly you’re overseas
Bought by Boeing made by in
But in that situation where you can have that system on a small postage stamp patrol base and it took more of a specialist to fly
I’m in by the time I was getting out,
We could take it out throw it
Intelligence video and data and I just say that Trend was just an unbelievable can a democratization,
of the air where are you by the end when we put it by the time I get out of the Marine Corps.
[4:13] Company or even a platoon could have a dedicated air outside.
Whereas that was Unthinkable when I got in six and
[4:30] What was what year was that whenever you were in serving it in.
[4:34] Yes I joined late 2006 went to kind of boot camp 2007 and got out in 2011 and then sewed deployed on the on a.
On a ship the USS Dubuque and then subsequently deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan after that.
[4:52] So the drums yet so during that time yeah that was like a lot of evolution I guess
so you got out of the military and then what you eat you kind of saw an opportunity maybe like to me the
the commercial quote on quote drone mystery kind of like started like really getting its legs in I would say
2012-2013 I would kind of categorize that personally myself as like the early kind of stages is that kind of what you saw and that’s when you were thinking okay there might be a business here.
[5:30] Absolutely so I just say
having intelligence data from the from the air.
Allowed us to just fundamentally change the way that we operated the speed at which we made decisions it just was
[5:55] That’s interesting over cuz you could almost replace everything you said about that in the military till like maybe a construction company there. Now we get all this information we’re working faster smarter safer.
[6:08] And that’s exactly right so I mean I just left as a dyed-in-the-wool and it’s a really,
myself and drum bass are trying to the fact that same transformation in a commercial context that I saw in
I felt like we were living 30 years in the future seeing these systems operate being actually asked to push
absolute capacity obviously be on
no issue nights lights no issue there is some deconfliction with other planes but really pushing these systems to their absolute maximum capability
I just fundamentally believe that this technology would commercialize and come to the business world to be candid not really knowing what the heck.
That man so yeah I mean just very briefly.
[7:05] Went to business school tried to drop out about 2 months
and so she said deal please finish business school and let’s pay off our dad before you go into this crazy drums Bass,
so I said I said okay but then spend most my time
researching drone commercialization doing papers on how this all might break out and just spending time with both
and I’m sure similar if I know drone to play also is very early to
and that time work I mean large that would that look like is going to people’s back
Building wiring soldering systems right almost always making our own systems whether they were yeah you get the DJI kit with instructions all in Chinese and kind of have to figure out how to solder the ball all the plates on writing.
What you got you got some sense of what happened to the small batch drone challenges that right well if you didn’t wire like the third.
[8:33] So tell us about
[8:39] Yes so kind of early 2014 and it really
Out of Inland Empire Central Valley Northern California Southern California probably met about a hundred fifty to two hundred I’d say they were pilots right as you were looking to.
Looking to be full-time in a commercial drone space more often and not they were coming from industry so it could be a couple X construction workers,
could be asked Mine Workers it could be folks that were coming from Real Estate or from Telecom.
Off and younger who thought look like I’d know my industry fairly well I feel like if I approach the industry with a new technology coming out of better career path and just kind of going along the usual course so,
Couple hundred of those early adopters and then I myself had just done this work a good bit I had seven or eight systems that I had kind of either bought off the shelf or home built,
and I would honestly just drive around to worksites mines properties honestly typically find a military veteran,
who would let me on the site at that point I can not only with no one pay I couldn’t even give this away for free.
But you know
[10:08] I still have the check kind of frame right on my monitor but I was working at a construction site I got a phone call that Hape coriander down the street is going to.
Put a bunch of C4 into his mind in about 2 hours ago did the explosion he’d like you to film it.
Hey $300 I thought hey absolutely let’s do it drove over there and got this film that
kind of simple Star right let us,
have a more serious conversation. Mine owner of hey here’s another system that can run just a quick-and-dirty survey of your Quarry you know do you know it’s in your stockpile that you got your inventories like well I know it is when I drop when I get off the lot.
Would you like to know what it is every week you said yeah that’d be great so often doing things that seem trivial or simple initially just to start down the road of being a more serious use
[11:05] And so then I guess throughout this entire time you saw the challenges of like how is this going to scale I’m not going to be driving to.
Mine sites all the time and I guess was that the formation of
[11:22] I see exactly said I was just worked as a
a server room server room full of servers collecting dust they probably should not have a drone closet full of drones also collecting dust.
They should pretty much find this data valuable if they find it dyeable they should pay just for that amount of data.
If they love it scaled up to one work sites to 10 work size to a hundred work size to a thousand and just keep
so you always know it’s Roi positive set that’s what it seemed like customers would want it just to help them make a decision and just pay for the days of that helps him get there.
And then in the background just had not
How to do this work often times they were much more skilled in the operational elements of the job then you know the marketing of a business or,
conducting Enterprise sales or working their books in accounting or collecting payments or doing accounts receivable at it just seems like if I could.
Make their lives easier just help them do the operation that they knew best that that’s about what we knew we got started.
[12:50] So is it fair to call
for drums you know like if you’re if you’re a drum bass customer see so from what I understand you guys have like two different kinds of customers so you have your pilot’s those are the people that have
the customer who wants the Drone pilot to come to them and then do XYZ with their drone so is it fair to call Uber,
fair to call
[13:20] It is fair to call Uber
[13:21] Drum bass for cars.
[13:23] The drum bass for cars that’s absolutely Fair.
[13:24] Area code failure called
[13:28] Will take their valuation.
So here’s the high-level what drone-based does the drum bass provides hour and drum bass Fries Enterprise
Stunning new Ariel information we do that quickly affordably reliably.
That helps our customers make better faster decisions about their most critical assets.
sorry customers can make better faster decisions about the places that matter to them most so.
You know I think
Quick right I mean so if you send an order to the Drone days API in North America were typically used to signing up to for 48 to 72 hour SLA.
[14:28] There’s an a that means a pilot goes out to the site that you’ve identified and then captures the data.
[14:34] That means a copy of her exactly Enterprises built into our API they send us an address or a lot longer a series of coordinates.
We’re generally comfortable signing up with within 48 hours if you send that address or API you’re going to we’re going to return to you drone data from that site yet from any Us address not in restricted airspace.
[14:51] Yeah are you guys you mentioned us airspace are you are you guys Global International
[15:03] Yeah so we have completed over and this kind of speak to a liability right we’ve completed over 100,000 commercial drone missions.
In all 50 US states in over 70 countries in terms of reliability.
Basically a 99.5 success rate meeting we only have to reapply 0.50% of the time.
And then kind of in addition to Reliable day that we need to provide a reliable service so across and who got something like,
thousand customer reviews with about a 9.0 rating on
If the Drone pilot Lee dispatch is not professional is not within uniform standards is not fluent in worksite the site manager is going to ask him to leave the work site
I’d say to your question.
The US and the English-speaking world is where we really think about having 10 like you think of like a Verizon cell coverage we really want you to have.
Substantially across that entire country was pretty reliable turnaround times I can’t promise that is the case in Morocco or.
[16:28] Thailand but those are countries where we’ve worked so I’d say that at the moment.
UK Ireland Australia New Zealand that’s
couple day turnaround across the entire country.
[17:00] What industries like what would you say like your top three Industries are that are using drone base right now and has that changed over the years I mean it’s been what companies about 4 ish years old.
[17:11] So I.
In the military
For some and I think we think about the stuff we think about this the same way think about are the same way at
Planes are good for some things and drones are excellent at that other thing so if you need them not the entire Gulf Coast Louisiana but hurt before and after Hurricane,
use a satellite don’t even know how I do that with the Drone if you have a
Maybe years until a drone is better than that to do that use case I would say that.
Drones as a platform and
800 acres or less as a parcel side and I mean I’m sure you and I both on this work once it gets too kind of above 800 above 1000 I mean yeah you’re out there all day swapping out that it makes for a long day right but I’d say that.
That’s what we think of is like getting property level worksite level data
[18:40] Insightful really A New Perspective that was not previously available or just wasn’t scalable to get a plane or satellite you out to that ass up before like that’s that’s what we try to be best if it looks like that parcel,
it looks like that size I think we feel good about operating there for us that tends to look like kind of all insurance.
All construction and Mining all real estate.
And some kind of energy and end Telecom infrastructure so I’d say that solar farm yes wind turbine yes cell tower yes.
[19:21] Basically anything that’s outside that’s kind of in a certain size range can be affecting the world how businesses are using.
[19:32] Yeah and we tend to think that like there is a tremendous amount of value at that kind of Preferred Property work site
acid level I mean those tend to be really important decisions get made things happen often at those Parcels you know big dollar amounts are being exchanged or we feel good there’s enough
kind of Roi to getting a new data source at that,
size and images for us
If its 700 miles of high tension power lines like it’s.
So I take it warm again
Drone kind of penetration of the of even that property worksite asset parcel is still .001%.
There’s so much of the trend is getting too.
1% of that to 10% of that to 70% of that
feels like honestly an add-on to me that’s like our sweet spot like The Sweet Spot drum systems is at that size right property as at work site.
[20:55] You guys have some interesting partner shifts I’ve always been you know it makes so much sense we talked briefly about the Getty Images partnership so getting some of your Pilots
certain types of missions for Getty Images but since
announcer partnership fairly recently I don’t know within the past like a month or two so tell us a little bit about that I mean what does the Drone double integration do and why is this useful why is it even exist.
[21:32] Nope of course.
Would love to talk about that I mean first I think that Joe know Mike the Drone deploy team it’s a group we’ve known for years admired for years always felt like we’re working on slightly different problems.
The way we can look at the space I kind of look at it in three big layers I think of first drone Hardware.
Which is a largely been won the DJI is certainly the large player they are the Monopoly player a couple other notable companies but with we have them having largely one that piece.
I didn’t think of data acquisition as another layer of the space kind of drone operations.
[22:22] And I’d say the Drone base that’s where we really think are the kind of Heart of our company is in drone operations we really want to.
Own. Drone operations and data acquisition piece of drone data analysis.
And that’s where I think drone deploy brings amazing insights increasing capabilities and we’ll just get better and better in that in that.
Then that’s our own unique take so for us like drone we feel that just the acquiring of this data.
The acquisition of it as I said before quickly affordably reliably.
That still is a very unsolved problem that still is very much,
technology plus a network problem it’s a problem that will be solved the software and are engineer’s we think there’s a ton of value just in solving that,
peace alone and that’s really where we’re mostly focused I think that we try to be
[23:41] We’re probably not going to go into 10 different verticals and saw the kind of Nth Degree analytic problem that at each one of those verticals has when.
The imagery plus another day does maybe not sufficient to get the customer to a really good decision that’s what we love to find Partners like
to that decision
So I guess is that that’s kind of how we think about the space so I mean everything about drone operations is.
Like I said there’s usually happens at the property or a Cider
We think about when an address comes into the Drone base API how do I adjust.
How do I bring
Damages will constitute of Berkeley Stitch model the sensor data is correct the metadata is attached it done in a way that a customer that wants to do this not just on one site but a hundred or thousand or 10000 it feels like it is fairly priced,
and it can happen quickly enough that it can replace what they’re doing now.
[25:08] And so we had so into with that integration then to now drone deploy people on Drone 2 player able to order a drone base,
pilot to come and fly at a specific site and that they kind of you know identify within the drug user interface analysis sent to you guys and
all this magical awesome stuff happens and then and then the people get it and so
Rebecca and customer finally get you
you know we recently have seen an article I forget who originally published it but.
[25:51] This is kind of a Hot Topic right now of some people are surprised about
surprised at all I was surprised by the metric here but the article says that there’s basically a 90% reduction it interviews this pilot I think he’s on the East Coast
he used to be able to charge a drone pilot not
Pilots to businesses for the purpose of data is this a race-to-the-bottom or what exactly are we seeing here.
[26:39] I’d say
I focus a lot on talking about customers cuz until we feel like we’re helping a customer Make a Better Faster decision.
So yeah I mean was it sent I mean
I still believe honestly that most drone Pilots still have not even been created right or even gotten their part 107 many more will come and and and what being a drone pilot.
Means will change over the years that the way we think about it is that.
We pray we believe that being a drone pilot is a new class of skilled labor.
[27:49] America the world desperately needs new types of skilled labor.
We think less probably in terms of how much did you get paid for this one increment with his one flight that you did,
maybe 20 pushing it right but like how do we how do we.
[28:44] By doing it the Thousand once time you didn’t learn anything it is now incremental how do we take that off your plate and really get you,
compensated fairly as a skilled labor so the converse of that book I mean I remember when the first kind of five.
And yeah that was those were salad days for a few weeks or months where you’re sensually the only game in town in this is in the median film vertical right where.
Greats of a studio my pay you thousands maybe even like ten thousand or more.
[29:24] For sure those film does film cinematographers can make quite a bit of money.
[29:29] Of course of course but I will tell you that that work
We believe the being of drone pilot is a profession.
It’s a skilled labor for fashion how do I get this to be your profession that
[30:20] Their own work or their own piloting
what internet an hour but I would also ask me again why we talked about every day this is probably the number one thing we talked to them about right.
[31:11] The customer we all have to keep the customer in mind as well it does not matter if we are.
We need to be better faster cheaper than what the customer is doing now then. Just not just 10% better to get them to adopt a flying robot.
I think I’m sure van any company here prices the absolute last thing we go to but that it has to be part of the consideration because that is when,
if you can really get in there and change how customers doing business change the workflow they want to do this not just as a press release not just as a pilot to seem innovative.
[32:24] So that was good I bet actually excellent point and thank you for bringing that up but,
the follow-up question was and still is our there always going to be human drone pilot I think everyone knows the answer to this,
yeah sure there’s always going to be human drone pilot but like I think maybe
of the way that they’re piling you got it eluded to that earlier actually will change anywhere to see more automation right and different types of ways that these drones are deployed.
[32:52] Absolutely I mean I think that you’d again I think that there is a there is absolutely a path for.
[33:25] There are more and maybe work there’s a bit of chasing demand now but in the full endgame of this there were absolutely going to be Supply constrained I’m more worried that there’s not going to be nearly enough 107 Pilots to get to nearly enough,
assets properties work sites in the full version of say I am sure that’s going to flip,
ultimately that Amazon web services and service provider model is going to be which we fundamentally believe is going to be the winning model when I think about a.
[34:24] A drone at a worksite fly it once a day still 20 minutes out of 24 hours still getting used about 1% asset utilization that’s not.
Pipeline and progression and I still always do that as a skilled labor right in someone who’s able to bring a unique skill set to each kind of increment of that pathway.
[35:21] Totally agree.
[36:00] For drones in the sky but it
[37:01] What we think about a drum bass is not to sound so much is automation coming yes automation is coming we think about what is the highest
[37:40] Oh yeah the drones fly themselves better than any human.
[38:48] And your G located and display it back to them during a drone fly.
[39:18] You know the scheduling is off and etcetera
I like that will cool so damn thank you so much for joining us and giving us your thoughts on all these different topics it was really nice to hear from you I think this is.
[40:22] More of the ethos the thought behind where you where you guys are kind of like pushing the industry and where you believe it’s going to be headed and so if you’re listening to this and you want to learn more about
check out the website commercial drones. FM shoot me an email if you got any questions Ian at commercial drones FF. FM and.
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