500below has debuted the public version of its smartphone application that provides a peer-to-peer, on-demand network for unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) support and training.
The company says it previously beta-tested its app and incorporated feedback from drone hobbyists, commercial drone pilots and even an airline owner.
The app – which uses a patent-pending, Uber-like model and matching algorithm – will connect drone owners who are members of 500below to experienced drone pilots who fly the same types of drones and have opted in to provide support on the specific device. The member drone owner requesting support from the network will pay a fee if the support mission was a success; this fee will be shared between the supporting pilot and 500below.
U.S. drone pilots can download the app via the Apple Store and Android Marketplace. In its first public phase, the app will be restricted to pilots in America; however, the company has plans to roll out globally, starting with Canada, the U.K. and Australia.
“A big problem with a hyper-growth market like drones is not just keeping up with a rapidly changing technology, but it’s also finding skilled technical support,” explains Bill Kimberlin, founder of 500below, who recently flew a drone at Richard Branson’s Necker Island (who later shared the footage). “To date, the drone community has relied on blogs and online posts for researching issues with the product. As manufacturers continue to produce every type drone imaginable, the lack of skilled technical support and feature training has become a big problem worth solving in the market. With the launch of our support network accessed via a mobile app, pilots will be able to form a collaborative community focused on providing quick assistance to other pilots in need.”