Many consumers and companies are excited about what drones have to offer, but unless drones can add some real value and provide a reasonable ROI, the industry would quickly die off. DroneDeploy, Autopilot and Skyclaim are three apps that greatly expand the functionality of most consumer and commercial UAV systems and have some powerful tools built in. 


Exciting start-up DroneDeploy has produced a drone app that allows DJI owners to map whatever area of landscape they choose. Users can predefine an area on the phone app just by drawing it, then the drone follows the set route and automatically snaps still images along the way. DroneDeploy’s dedicated supercomputers then take all of the photos, crunch the data and assemble maps which can include terrain models and accurate 3-D models of whatever other features they encounter. The company also say they can produce visuals showing healthy and unhealthy areas of crops, which is a godsend for farmers and insurance industry loss adjusters.


Autopilot from Autoflight Logic is an autonomous flight control system, which means that it can take your drone through a variety of predetermined maneuvers to return some gorgeous visuals. User created videos show the drone focusing on the owner’s car and following it home, or circling around a particular landmark. These features are general to many other drone apps, but Autopilot also offers things like the ‘Zip Line’ program, which, as the name suggests has the drone mimicking a zip line, moving towards or away from a particular point. The camera is obviously free to move as this happens so amateur filmmakers will probably be drooling at the cinematic possibilities. The ‘Target’ program looks a little bit like ‘Follow.’ The camera follows the target but the drone does not.


The words “Skymatics crop insurance analyzer” or SkyClaim are actually a lot more interesting than you might think. Since the dust bowl depression of the 1930s left Americans without food and farmers without businesses, the federal government realized that farmers’ success could not be left to chance. Since then it’s helped out financially with crop insurance, and Between 2004 and 2014 that was to the tune of around $70 billion. As you can imagine, anything that brings that figure down has to be welcomed by taxpayers. Instances of insurance fraud in this industry can be high, particularly when destructive events happening all at the same time of year can overwhelm insurance companies’ loss adjusters, who must assess vast areas of damage. This is where drone apps like Skymatics crop insurance analyzer come in. Inspecting hundreds of acres of crop damage on foot is a huge task, but flying a consumer drone over the same fields and mapping them via a drone app with hundreds of photos that can be later stitched together and analyzed in a is relatively easy. The potential time and money savings from doing the loss adjusters’ jobs more quickly and accurately are enormous.