The business of commercial drones is taking flight on your TV.
Science Channel’s “Droned” focuses on the growing commercial drone industry. It follows Fort Lauderdale-based customization and aerial filming company Pigeon Vision as they design drones for famous clients (Tyler Perry, Criss Angel, 98 Degrees band member Jeff Timmons, and Indy 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya are all featured) and showcases various uses of the technology.
FoxNews.com spoke with Pigeon Vision drone and software developer Bill Piedra and drone pilot Dani Vierra, who cited her background in gaming. “It was like ‘oh cool, that’s just another outlet for that interest’ and then once we started getting into it, I was like – wow, you could actually make this a very serious thing,” she said.
The pilot is attending the U.S. National Drone Racing Championships, which kick off in New York City on Aug. 5. “It’s a pretty new sport… I would say it’s in its like infantile state so we’re kind of still figuring out how to create regulations and develop this industry,” she told FoxNews.com. “Everybody, everyone and anyone can participate. When you go to these drone races you meet people from all kinds of different careers and walks of life, some people are pilots and doctors and then college kids and it’s really a mashup of everyone and that’s probably one of my favorite things about going to the events.”
As for what audiences will see on “Droned” Vierra explains that the show will reveal innovative and unusual drone use. This ranges from using drones to track sharks and boars to mounting a paintball gun on a drone and performing tricky aerial inspections. “In one of the episodes you’ll actually see we went to a gondola company and we helped them inspect their mechanical equipment as well so that their technicians are able to stay safer in the field which I think was really important,” she said.
“What we’re doing right now is a lot of experimental customizations of drones to sort of extend their applications,” added Piedra, noting that the primary application for drones is photography. Pigeon Vision, however, has experimented with the Fort Lauderdale Fire Department to use drones as a rescue device.
The industry is also gearing up for upcoming changes in the Federal Aviation Administration’s rules for commercial drones, which go into effect Aug. 29. “The new rules are going to allow drone operators to engage in using drones for commercial purposes and they have to go through sort of a simplified pilot’s license program,” explained Piedra. “The idea is that the FAA just wants to make sure that everybody follows a common set of rules and the rules are very simple and common sense.”
Piedra thanks that commercial drone operations are set to “explode” and predicts widespread use of the technology over the coming years. “This might sound like science fiction today, but in 10 years there will be no reason for a human being to take on a risky job like painting a bridge or washing the windows of a skyscraper when drones might be able to do that job just as well, probably less expensively and more efficiently, and most importantly with no risk to human life,” he said.
As for some of the cool drone enthusiasts he was worked with, Piedra was particularly impressed with actor and director Tyler Perry. “We kind of did this custom job for him and delivered it to him at his house where he actually has his own private radio controlled airplane runway and a huge hangar with hundreds and hundreds of models,” he said. “It was a lot of fun because it was a really kind of cool cutting edge technology build and at the same time, when we delivered it to him he said ‘wow I thought I had everything but I don’t have one of these’.”
“Droned” airs Friday nights on Science Channel.