Affordable Drone Surveying and Data Processing: meet mdaaS

A new offer meets the new normal

Microdrones as a Service: New Rent-or-Own Program Expands Availability, Offers Flexibility, Matches Budgets that Develop Growth Partnerships

You operate a small surveying business. An increasing array of capable technologies can make your deliverables more precise and proficient. But a purchase might be a budget-buster, especially in a coronavirus-afflicted business environment.

You run a medium-sized mining company with a surveying need to make on-going volume calculation. But you also work on other projects, which makes you worry about buying equipment that might restrict operational flexibility.

Or perhaps you’re a major multilocation firm with construction and pipeline projects coming fast and furious. Your scale and recurring business justify operating a fleet of UAS, but the intricacies of fleet management are affecting efficient operations.

Especially at the small and mid-size level, your company may face fundamental business conundrums. How can you satisfy your enthusiasm for the best evolving technology without making a big capital investment? How can you maintain cash flow by reducing payments so your project profits can cover them?

Enter the new Microdrones as a Service program. Announced on May 1, mdaaS- Microdrones as a Service is a new business model that offers competitive pricing for high-end bundled solutions. It marks a customer-focused shift from Microdrones offering drones and data solutions to the company providing convenient packaging of survey equipment, software, workflow, training, and pay per project or unlimited data post processing. mdaaS allows customers to select plans according to their business needs and anticipated usage (pricing details available from your Microdrones representative).

From Paris to New York State, if you ask around the company’s C-suites, the phrase you’ll repeatedly hear is… Game-Changer.

Customer-focused Flexibility

Surveying professionals worldwide trust Microdrones for the quality of its professional drone applications, whether LiDAR or photogrammetry, calibration or algorithms. Microdrones solutions enable success, from surveying with mdMapper models to penetrating tree canopy via systems up to and including the mdLiDAR3000DL. But quality has its price, and uncertain business conditions can make aligning project needs, cost, and systems and software a tricky process for end users. By establishing various price points, mdaaS lets customers access top-end solutions while budgeting accurately, both internally and for the estimates they provide to their own customers.

“I’m really excited about this new program,” Microdrones President Vivien Heriard-Dubreuil said. “It’s really a game-changer for us, and I think for the land surveyors too."

“Microdrones is well known for the quality of its products and the quality of the data that they produce,” he continued. “We are high-end experts. That quality has a price, and this means that we are also thought of as expensive at first glance."

“We decided to change that. We wanted to have more survey equipment in the field to consume more data processing. It means we have to change the way we do business. So, we have built a new program called mdaaS, or Microdrones as a Service, and it will help us expand our market presence by making our integrated systems accessible to a broader base of users. That’s really the concept.”

“The idea of what we call ‘as a service’ is really ‘pay when you use it,’” explained Frank Darmayan, chief operation officer for Microdrones. “Customers can make a small capital investment and then pay as they go. This gets them into a space where they can realize the advantages of Microdrones.”

I’m really excited about this new program. It’s really a game-changer for us, and I think for the land surveyors too.

Vivien Heriard-Dubreuil, Microdrones President

mdaaS is based around a three-stage selection process that can mesh with various corporate needs:

  • choose the integrated survey system that best fulfills your UAV needs
  • choose whether to rent or buy the survey equipment
  • choose the data processing plan that best represents the rhythm of your survey work and the reality of your financial situation.

Under this new business model, Microdrones will continue to offer its complete roster of UAV solutions for drone surveying, mapping, construction, mining, inspection, precision agriculture and other commercial applications. Its platforms will continue to embrace high-end LiDAR, photogrammetry, direct georeferenced mapping and methane inspection- though they’ll now bear the aaS suffix to support the new business model.

mdaaS offers two acquisition options: “Buy It” likely will be most attractive for large companies with very high UAS usage- say, multi-venue construction, engineering, energy and photogrammetry operations. These companies likely prefer capital investment and have the recurring business and financial resources sufficient to possess their own systems. Under the “Buy It” plan, customers own their equipment outright—paying upfront for a drone and payload system. Mission planning includes the version of mdCockpit that’s current at time of purchase. “Buy It” purchase comes with a one-year warranty and bug fixes, and the customer can opt into a full maintenance program.

“Rent It” is the real innovation; think of it as a UAS version of your phone or digital TV plan. You pay monthly to use the survey equipment and collect your data.

“Rent It” is aimed toward small to mid-sized companies that are enthusiastic for technology but want to moderate cash flow. It also might fit the needs of a larger company that wants flexibility between the different systems in its fleet. “Rent It” can allow companies access to multiple high-end solutions at a company’s own experience level.

“You don’t have to decide, ‘I want to buy survey equipment for PPK or survey equipment for DG.’” Heriard-Dubreuil elaborated. Multiple options are packaged, so “the survey equipment is capable of doing it all. It’s just how you process it.”

“Rent It” is available through a tiered plan that includes hardware and software, product updates and normal-use maintenance. Payment is annual, but the real flexibility comes from being able to toggle between two data levels over the life of a two-year lease- it’s like having multiple systems at hand.

Those data processing options are available on a Pay per Project or Unlimited basis. “Pay per Project” allows clients with variable project and business needs to pay via a token system. It also provides small and medium-sized users with full mission flexibility, and up-grades and updates are included.

On the other hand, the “Unlimited Plan” can suit those who do repetitive work over time and/or need sustained processing capabilities. Payments are monthly, with a 12-month commitment.

“Most of our work is on data processing, so giving access on pay per use or the subscription model allows them to try it,” Darmayan seconded.

“Rent It” includes maintenance and service coverage, which can reduce user concerns about dealing with problems that might come up. “It’s a fully integrated solution,” said Vincent LeGrand, vice president for global sales for Microdrones. “Not only from the hardware and software, but on the service side. You have nothing to worry about. We take care of everything that is included.”

“You rent it, it’s on us,” Heriard-Dubreuil added. “We inspect it and so on. It’s really a big difference from today.”

By offering entry-level pricing, mdaaS allows a “long tail” of smaller enterprises access to the full array of Microdrones features. Consequently, it’s positioned to overcome objections that can be associated with adopting new technology.

“We realize that it’s a new technology and that people have been doing ground surveys for a long time,” Darmayan continued. “It’s a risk for them to change. ‘Will this really work?’ ‘Do I really need it?’ So, our idea is to give them access to the platform so they can quote jobs, win jobs, and then realize how efficient and safer it is.”

In offering a no-surprise program, Microdrones is positioning itself as a full partner in its customers’ success.

“We’re sharing the risk,” Darmayan concluded. “For us, it’s not a risk, because we believe in the product, we’ve tested it. But for customers, it’s risk-sharing. They pay a lot less if it doesn’t work out for them.” And adoption can grow at the customer’s pace.

As a Microdrones sales rep ads, “Some customers will want to court us before we get married. This is fine; we have a program for that.”

It’s a fully integrated solution. Not only from the hardware and software, but on the service side. You have nothing to worry about. We take care of everything that is included.

Vincent LeGrand, Vice President for Global Sales for Microdrones

What’s Best for You

A customer can take a quick self-evaluation to determine the best options for their particular business. But the initial questions to ask revolve around key issues such as:

  • what data needs to be collected
  • what obstacles need to be overcome to collect it
  • how great an area needs to be covered
  • how fast do you need the results
  • what accuracy level needs to be provided.

Here’s an example:

Currently your company owns an mdMapper1000DG. It’s an all-round, resilient, long-flight-time performer, effective in high temperatures and high winds, that is delivering on your current surveying needs. Business is coming back, and you could use another unit.

Your next decision would be how to pay for it. You want convenient hard-ware and, with your limited staff, it’s likely best to let Microdrones handle maintenance and upgrades. So, you decide that the “Rent It” model is the best fit for your operation. Then you have to choose your plan for your Data Processing modules within that, either Unlimited Georeferencing or “Pay per Project” is there if you decide that peaks and valleys may be your usage curve for the next while.

Your choice would meet your particular business needs with an effective, mission-flexible and affordable performance and pricing model. With “Rent It,” you’ll get new capabilities as they come online during your contract period.

“You can activate a feature or a module when you need it,” Microdrones president Heriard-Dubreuil said. COO Darmayan agreed. “They are not going to need all of this every time. Sometimes the customer only wants a rough point cloud, sometimes they want something very accurate and colorized. So, they can use the module they want when they need it.”


The inauguration of Microdrones as a Service hopes to establish the company as more than even a trusted vendor- rather, mdaaS can make Microdrones a long-term strategic partner that can synch itself to your growth strategy and internal budgeting.

To support this pivot, Microdrones is repositioning its sales force toward being your consultant rather than your sales person. He or she can guide your selection process by discussing needs, applications, deliverables and service. Your needs then can be matched to packages that maximize both performance and user flexibility over time.

“I see that as a powerful sales proposition,” Vice President of Global Sales Vincent LeGrand reiterated. “Why? Because on the one side, it will give us the possibility to offer Microdrones survey equipment to people who believe that it’s not affordable. Second, because it’s also a way for us to approach the big companies; in more and more companies, the management of capacity is important. To go with solutions like rental means that we also take care of the service and the maintenance. More and more companies want to have turn-key solutions. If they have an issue, they call you, you replace the drone, you take care of the maintenance, it’s a big step.”

No wonder President Heriard-Dubreuil is confident enough about the benefits of mdaaS to both customers and his own company to instruct the sales consultants thusly: “You can keep telling your customer that we will grow with them.

“If you have to remember one thing this year for Microdrones, it’s aaS, or ‘as a service.’”

If you would like to learn more about Microdrones as a Service, CLICK HERE to speak with one of our representatives.