Rent-A-Drone Service Launches In Beta

Like Uber, but for unrelated tasks involving drones

DJI Inspire In Flight
DJI Inspire In Flight
Kwangmo, via Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Want to have your very own drone wedding, without getting pilot's license? Fly4Me can hook you up. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based company is designed for people who want to hire a drone and crew on a per-use basis, the service matches customers with pilots and drones, creating a market of sorts. Approved by the FAA in the spring, Fly4Me launched in beta mode last week.

Places like the Boston Globe's BetaBoston blog are calling Fly4Me an "Uber for drones," and there's an element of truth to that. Like Uber's original innovation of turning idle car-service drivers into phone-summoned ride-shares, Fly4Me gets around a major regulatory hurdle. In this case, rather than circumventing municipal taxi legislation, Fly4Me meets the FAA requirements for drone pilots, so their customers don't have to go through the approval process themselves.

Previously, a business that wanted to fly drones had to get individual approval and certification from the FAA, a process that was initially lengthy and while the FAA is approving drone certificates faster than it was, that's still a burden for the average business that only wants to use a drone sometimes. Enter Fly4Me. As envisioned, registered customers will post a job they need to hire a drone for, like getting a vineyard surveyed or a wedding photographed. Pilots with Fly4Me, including both employees and contractors, will bid on the job. The bids can be answered as soon as 24 hours, which is a far cry from the minutes of a ride-sharing service but isn't bad for contracting aerial photography.

With the rise of drone mapping tools and services, there's a lot of business potential for drones in real estate and agriculture. For other businesses that might only want a drone sometimes, services like Fly4Me, if they work as promised, can add a drone element where it would otherwise be prohibitive. The service has the potential to go above anything on the ground.