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FreeSkies: A Silicon Valley Startup Unveils a Simple and Safe Way to Fly Your Drone

BY Alan Perlman
7 October 2015

Source: FreeSkies
By: Jay


MENLO PARK – Available Oct 1st on the App Store, the FreeSkies CoPilot app will offer DJI Phantom 3 and Inspire 1 owners an intuitive way to visualize and plan flight paths in 3D, enabling commercial drone pilots and hobbyists to safely and reliably capture high quality video.  CoPilot leverages the new 3D flyover capabilities, unique to iOS 9, allowing users to plan and launch autonomous paths using 3D maps.

Related: Don’t forget to check out our premium 3D mapping/modeling training course, Mapping and 3D Modeling 101.

Drones are increasingly becoming a part of mainstream electronics, with applications ranging from enterprise hardware to film production tools. With recent media coverage of drones crashing into the White House lawn and grounding firefighting planes, it is clear there is still much to be done in the areas of safety and reliability. CoPilot is the first step to offer drones enthusiasts and novice pilots that safety and reliability through a unique user interface. By placing the focus on the videos and pictures, instead of the drone, CoPilot allows the user to focus on their creative vision, while automating the flying.

“CoPilot eliminates the need for you to be both a photographer and a drone pilot. CoPilot handles the piloting, keeping your drone safe, so you can focus on the videos and images you want to capture”

– says FreeSkies Co-founder, Jay Mulakala.


After launching CoPilot, operators set keyframes by interacting with the 3D interface, and framing the video or images they wish to capture. Once the frames have been set, the application will automatically guide your drone along the 3D path, while manipulating the drone’s orientation and camera pitch to perfectly match each frame. According to Co-founder Andy Putch, “CoPilot greatly reduces the possibility of piloting error by automating complex functions, from takeoff to touchdown. The entire planning interface is contained within the application, making it possible to plan and pre-visualize the intended video well before arriving at the site”. According to Drone Analyst Founder, Colin Snow, “Advances in drones have made them the platform of choice for aerial photography. Their ubiquity has lowered the barrier-to-entry for aerial work like real-estate advertising, where a bird’s-eye view is highly valued. The next advances will be in autonomous control, making even existing drones much more powerful and user friendly. FreeSkies is certainly on the right track.”

The app only requires the DJI platform, controller, and an iPad to operate. It interfaces with the drone’s controller, allowing it to relay GPS and telemetry data from the application to the quadcopter. Once the app has been connected and a mission has been loaded, the drone will be controlled autonomously, with advanced options to control the camera in flight, for on-the-fly adjustments. CoPilot offers users a unique pre-visualization and flight planning system, fully autonomous control capabilities, safety and reliability in flight, and supports the DJI Phantom 3 Standard, Advanced, Professional, and Inspire on all iPads running iOS 9 or above. Android and iPhone compatibility is in production. The technology behind the FreeSkies CoPilot is currently patent pending.


Silicon Valley tech startup, FreeSkies, announces the Oct 1st release of its flagship iOS application, the FreeSkies CoPilot, to make aerial data capture simple and accessible. CoPilot for iOS uses 3D-previsualization to plan autonomous paths for drones, delivering high quality video, safely and reliably. For more information, please visit today or download on the App Store.

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