Eg North Rhine-Westphalia has published an "NRW-Atlas" which can be used to draw maps from it (no automatic imports, though), the data is really good in general.
In our present legal environment I guess the creator would still be charged with breaking the FAA regulations, but perhaps we'll live to see the day when our children will be held responsible for their own actions :)
In the U.S., the big advantage over government imagery is going to be timeliness. I'm sure some people also have uses for the resolution.
"The eBee has a flight time of up to 45 minutes allowing to cover areas of up to 10sqkm in a single flight."
His cost is order $2000.
I've done it for around $1100, excluding the cost of a laptop to run some open source flight control software, but ~$600 of that was a 9-channel RX/TX controller setup. Overkill unless you're doing some really crazy stuff.
It's not all sunshine and rainbows, though. I've worked closely with scientists that have had problems with SenseFly units in the field, despite the high level of polish in the product. I've flown similar sized UAVs to the eBee (all self constructed) in great environmental conditions (low altitude ASL, favorable wind conditions, etc.) and had great success. However, get these things in less hospitable environments, and things go sideways real fast. So, while Joe Everyman is getting closer and closer to just throwing a small UAV in the air and having it work, we're still quite a ways from guaranteed success out of these things.
Observation: I've never had good luck using a GoPro for mapping tasks. My suspicion was the rolling shutter, but perhaps I was just doing it wrong.
Especially considering you can buy a 9XR + FrSky module for like $130 nowadays. This wasn't always the case though -- Rx/Tx solutions have become a lot less expensive since 2008 or so, as I understand.
I'd agree that you'd easily be able to replicate 95% of what they've done for under $600 (so long as you don't count the time you'd spend researching/building/learning - FWIW, I wouldn't sell one of these hypothetical $600 autonomous camera planes to someone else for less than a few grand - my time, warranty, and liability would easily add up to that.)
The plane in that video weighs 128g (~4.5oz) thats ~20% lighter than a baseball (or cricket ball) and ~30% lighter than a frisbee. Sure, it's got a powered spinning propeller on the front, but it's pretty low powered (sub 6A draw at 7.2V - 45W tops) and more importantly I've got _much_ more control of it than people throwing balls or frisbees have - at least once they've left their hands.
I'm happy enough to accept the personal risk of flying this "toy" with the same sort of common sense rules that I'd use if chucking a ball or frisbee around with friends. Don't be reckless, don't "buzz" people, try to be obviously taking safety into account. Yeah, there's some risk - but a little bit of self control can easily reduce that risk to near-enough-to-zero (and I'm prepared if required to throw myself on the mercy of a court and argue that I'd considered and taken prudent precautions to avoid an accident in the case of a truly tragic incident.)
A bigger/heavier/more-powerful plane like the one in the OP would affect my decisions about when/where were sensible places to fly - but keep in mind the eBee in the article only weight "less than 700g" - that's less than 50% more than a football. Personally, I suspect there'd be a lot of times/places where other people occasionally kick footballs around that I'd happily fly a one of them - not without a little extra caution, but given suitable circumstances I'd fly a ~700g eBee on the same cricket ground as that video of my Mini Swift.
market segmentation. They used the "industrial" keyword. So it could have been anything between $300 for Parrot and $35K (airframe only, the whole system is $200K+) for Raven.
Buy a kit for < $100:
That said, the gov't paperwork before we were able to fly it was a nightmare, but operating it in remote, helicopter access only areas (no humans/buildings/etc around for dozens and dozens of kilometres) did ease the requirements a tiny bit.
Generating DSMs from the geo-ref'd images within an hour or two of flying a flight plan was pretty awesome though. Being DSM (Rather than DTM/DEM) is kind of annoying with tree-cover, but in less treed areas is still better than the Government of Canada 30m DEM.
I'd really like to do a drone services startup focusing on municipal govt's and agriculture. It seems like you could solve a lot of surveying/permitting issues for cities. With ag, special cameras can give farms a lot of data (I know this is being done already). I think becoming sort of the "Waste Management for Drones" could make a lot of money.
I see lots of $5k+ multicopter/camera setups for sale at _big_ losses here in Australia, when people obviously got all excited about starting their own aerial photography business – then bumped into the legal reality of flying these things commercially as opposed to being a hobbyist.
If you want to accept money for flying RC aircraft here, you almost need the same qualifications as a commercial pilot _and_ a commercial airframe mechanic. There are a few dozen companies who've got the required qualifications, and they're _very_ protective of their turf. You _will_ get "noticed", and the authorities (CASA here in .au) will come knocking.
My brother however will be happy to use his quadcopter to contribute with some aerial images of fields
but it's a way off what this software seems to be able to do.
There's not much magic in what Pix4D does - the algorithms are generally well documented (though tricky to get to work well from what I understand), it's just no-one's done it yet.
The level of coverage that can be done with that data can sort of be inferred from this post:
(they basically processed landsat imagery to get large scale data for the entire globe, and free imagery of the US gets quite a bit finer scale)