A Rental Model for Surveying Drones

With mdaaS, Microdrones now offers a rental option for UAV surveying solutions.

As seen in the June 2020 Business Geomatics Issue

Click above to read the German article

The concept of renting rather than buying is currently gaining traction with technology providers, but Siegen-based Microdrones now offers more than just the option to lease. With the new mdaaS – Microdrones as a Service – Microdrones gives their customers maximum flexibility, in terms of both cost and use of technology.

The fully integrated technology of all three product lines – mdLiDAR, mdMapper and mdTector – are available through mdaaS.

“Customers still have the option to buy the solution in a traditional sale. Microdrones as a Service gives them the option to utilize a subscription model with monthly payments,” Vincent Legrand, vice president of Global Sales at Microdrones, said.

New customers can get a high-end surveying solution from just 950 euros per month, rather than paying a one-off sum that typically ranges in the mid-five digits. Or, they can purchase the drone solution for a significantly reduced amount and then pay a fee to use it in aerial surveillance projects. Whichever option the customer chooses, the Microdrones full support package comes with it. That includes a 300-hour check, during which the solution is fully inspected by the manufacturer.

“In this way we can always precisely address the customers’ current needs,” Mike Dziok, vice president of Global Marketing at Microdrones, said. “The customer selects all payment modalities and preferences for maintenance, service, training and support.”

Flexible payment - flexible use

The rental option provides surveyors and geomatics specialists an important element – maximum flexibility. Surveying devices, services and software selection can be configured as required. Users simply decide which type of data evaluation they would like to use in the project.

Microdrones also delivers the drone solution with features like direct georeferencing (DG). DG enables the immediate calculation of position value – accurate to the centimeter – directly during the flight. This, in turn, generates equally precise point clouds. However, this is just one option.

“The user can decide from project to project whether they would prefer to use a PPC method, in which the correction values are calculated after the flight,” sales manager Samuel Flick said.

The customer interprets the specifications for post-processing of the data within the Microdrones software mdInfinity, which is always included in the solutions. Thus, for each activity of a surveying project, customers can decide which systems meet their requirements. 

Various data evaluation features are available to the user on a pay-per-use or unlimited basis. The software is designed to be simple to operate, Flick said. “After completing the flight, for example, you can get a point cloud in LAS format with only four steps in the control system.”

The sensors can flexibly be exchanged with one another. If a customer wants to generate both photogrammetric and laser-based point clouds, for example, they can switch out the sensors from the mdLiDAR1000 aaS and mdMapper1000DG aaS. Therefore, only a single flight platform is needed for two solutions.

Due to a higher volume of inquiries since first offering mdaaS in early May, Microdrones estimates a one-to-two-day turnaround time for processing requests. In addition to a specially designed website, the company offers webinars explaining which options might be best for customers. It also invested heavily in sales and service training ahead of launching the new service, Legrand said.

“We can explain the full range of options and support customers in their decision-making process.”

Customers still have the option to buy the solution in a traditional sale. Microdrones as a Service gives them the option to utilize a subscription model with monthly payments.”
Vincent Legrand, vice president of Global Sales at Microdrones

One of the earliest customers: the Feldhaus construction company

Feldhaus from Schmallenberg, Germany, with its in-house surveying department, has decided to take advantage of Microdrones as a Service. The construction company employs around 650 people and operates in the areas of earthworks, sewer and road construction, civil engineering, and mining.

Photogrammetric or laser-based 3D measurement hadn’t been firmly entrenched in Feldhaus’ everyday operations, but the company then conducted a comprehensive market survey in the area of drone measurement.

“Microdrones had already convinced us of its solutions during a test flight of a landfill, but the mdaaS model has now provided the final impetus for us to make a purchase," Feldhaus surveying engineer Christian Loeser said.

With the mdMapper1000DG aaS, which uses direct georeferencing, Feldhaus can now collect data and create visualizations more efficiently. The company expects sustainable improvements in many applications, such as measuring landfill sites, as well as slope stabilization, where the nets and anchors have to be measured regularly.

With the aid of Microdrones, Feldhaus is now in a position to quickly generate highly precise three-dimensional surface data for volume and mass determination, photo documentation, and cost calculations and billing.

“I think many occasions for use will emerge over time," Loeser said.

New market phase

Vivien Heriard-Dubreuil, CEO of Microdrones, expects the drone measurement market to enter a new phase with mdaaS.

“Today, pioneers and innovators in particular are using drone solutions. With mdaaS, we will herald a new phase of growth and for the first time will see signs of a mass market.”

Above all, the investment decisions could be made much faster, easier and with less risk for users.

If you're interested in learning more about renting drone surveying equipment from Microdrones, CLICK HERE to speak with one of our helpful representatives.