The wait for new American made drones might be coming to an end as Freefly emailed users that they will start shipping the Astro
That’s right, drone pilots who signed up for Astro reservations may not be waiting much longer. Freefly had emailed reservation holders that the base kit of the Freefly Astro will start shipping in 2-4 weeks from today! The wait may finally be over, but only for those who wanted the base kit of the Freefly Astro. That’s right, Freefly will start shipping the Astro base kit!
The email mentioned that Astro reservation holders who wanted the integrated camera payload might be waiting longer. Freefly is only expected to start shipping the Astro Base kit in the next 2-4 weeks. Users who have been avidly waiting to use the Astro for drone mapping might be waiting longer though. As only the integrated camera payload version will support mapping missions and wont be released just yet. For now.
While many drone pilots might be impatient in waiting for the Astro, pilots should applaud Freefly’s efforts. It has become apparent that Freefly doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes of previous manufacturers. They don’t want to beta test their aircraft on consumers either. Freefly has waited to perfect their aircraft and software. That way, when Freefly is ready to deliver… they can provide excellent aircraft devoid of errors. While many pilots had assumed the chip shortage was affecting manufacturing, it seems Freefly was just pursuing perfection before release.
As the drone wars have been heating up, drone pilots have been losing drone jobs for flying Chinese made drones. One drone pilot stated in a Facebook group that he was denied multiple drone jobs. He was denied the jobs because he was flying DJI aircraft. Yet in this fury of posting, the pilot admitted there wasn’t a domestically built drone that could complete the job. He even noted that he isn’t able to buy any domestically built drone, even though many have been announced. Hopefully the announcement of the Astro will solve this problem for many drone pilots.
The confusion on domestically made drones has had ripple affects. Companies afraid of cyber security are denying drone pilots from flying Chinese made equipment, even though the DJI ban only affects DOD operations or government entities. The NDAA which started the anti-chinese made craze was not directed at private enterprise. Yet some companies have allowed this security confusion to seep into commercial markets.
The security craze has created an opportunity for American made drones. Albeit the confusion surrounding this topic has only gotten worse. The drones that were announced to be “approved” for American consumption can’t even be bought my most commercial pilots. The list of Blue sUAS drones, or approved drones only covers 5 drones, not drone manufacturers. On top of this there are many new drones that may fit the framework. Manufacturers have told Drone U that it may be impossible to get new drones on this Blue sUAS list. As manufacturers offer more domestically built aircraft, it seems the funding to research these drones has dried up. Meaning that any new manufacturer might find it impossible to actually make the Blue sUAS list.
As we have said previously, the best prospects for a competitive American made drone lay with Freefly. While not domestically built, Sony’s Airpeak drone could be a solid and more affordable solution for many drone pilots. It seems the drone industry needs more clarification on what drones are actually NDAA compliant and which drones could make the list of Blue sUAS.
Maybe with Freefly now shipping the Astro, there will be increased incentives to update the Blue sUAS list.
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