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Got a camera drone? This app lets you earn money for 10- to 15-minute flights

DroneBase Pilot Dashboard - Instructional Video
A startup company’s plans to pay drone pilots for aerial footage is taking off — DroneBase’s crowdsourced pilot and quadcopter program released a Pilot Dashboard app that connects drone owners with local businesses looking for aerial content.

DroneBase allows businesses to crowdsource aerial photography by connecting companies with local drone pilots. The new app puts businesses looking for drone footage on the map, allowing pilots to find 10- to 15-minute flight jobs in their area.

Businesses post their job and requirements on the DroneBase platform, then interested local pilots grab the job, fly the course, upload the footage, and then get paid. From real estate companies looking for assets for listings to insurance brokers trying to assess property damage, DroneBase aims to allow companies access to aerial video and stills without the expense of a drone system. For drone pilots, the platform gives drone enthusiasts the chance to earn some cash with their quadcopter.

After launching in 2014, DroneBase is now in all 50 states — and 30 countries total. DroneBase CEO Dan Burton says companies can get drone footage within two days and often for less than $500. Some of the company’s pilots, meanwhile, earn as much as $50,000 annually on the platform.

The startup’s last round of funding brought DJI and two others among the mix of partners, which also includes Upfront Ventures, Accel Partners, and Union Square Investors. DJI’s involvement means drone pilots are required to use DJI equipment for the job — DroneBase says the requirement helps to ensure footage from pilots around the world share a similar quality.

Drone pilots have to follow their area’s laws for commercial drone flights, such as the U.S guidelines requiring certification for flying drones over .55 pounds. Gigs from DroneBase work two different ways, a client mission requested by a customer with a guaranteed pay after meeting all the requirements, or pano missions that send 360 content to potential customers but only pay if the footage sells.

The DroneBase app is available for iOS on the app store, while the Pilot Dashboard is available from any web browser. According to the company, the app featured more than a million commercial projects at the start of Monday’s official launch.

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