Why renting a UAV may make sense

This entry is part 79 of 80 in the series Pangaea

Pangaea LogoI have a land surveyor client who’s interested in getting on the UAV train. But like many, he’s concerned with the financial outlay and not quite certain if the UAV path is the right one for his firm. His main concern: Will he be able to fully utilize and monetize the investment? That’s why I’m suggesting he take a look at renting versus an outright purchase, at least initially. Here are the top four reasons why renting a UAV may make sense.

1) Try before you buy (part one.)

Before making an investment in a UAV system, wouldn’t be nice to know if this technology is a good fit for your geospatial firm? Yes, you can and should do the research beforehand. However, there’s a world of difference between reading and researching unmanned technology and actually incorporating it into your workflow. Renting a unit will let you evaluate the technology before making the investment. If it doesn’t work out, then you’ve minimized your financial exposure. If UAV technology seems like a good fit, then you can move forward with the investment.

2) Try before you buy (part two.)

Renting a UAV also allows you to test a platform and/or sensor package before making the leap. Using my client as an example again, he’s really interested in using UAVs to do cross sections for road construction. Given the typical conditions he encounters, he’s not sure if a photogrammetric solution is the right choice. Lidar might be a better solution. Using a rental paradigm, he could try both without making an investment in a solution that might not the best choice.

3) Keeping up with technology.

Anyone who keeps an eye on the unmanned systems space knows how quickly things change. Lidar is a great example: Units get smaller, lighter, and cheaper all the time. Speaking from personal experience, every time I buy a new drone, a better and usually cheaper one comes out next month. Annoying and frustrating.

Another big issue is the FAA’s Remote ID (RID) program on the horizon. Before investing in a UAV platform you will want to be assured it will be RID compatible. Renting a UAV takes the worry out of this: When the RID rules are in place, just swap out your rental unit for a RID compatible one.

4) Seasonality.

While we all work year-round, some firms experience slow periods related to the seasons. The busy summer construction season is a good example. Renting a UAV only during the busy seasons can be a good way to manage cash flow during the slow times.


Microdrones is a good example of what the company calls “mdaas: Microdrones as a Service.” The firm offers a rental option for all its solutions: mdLiDAR, mdMapper and mdTector.

There are other firms renting drones out there. One caveat: With some exceptions, most specialize in consumer platforms, which may not meet the demanding needs of geospatial professionals.

If you’re riding the fence on integrating UAV solutions into your geospatial firm, take a look a the rental option: You may find it helps answer some of your concerns.

Stay safe, stay strong.

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