Dronebase Goes Thermal

Our portfolio company Dronebase is announcing some big news today.

They are going to be offering thermal imaging missions in partnership with FLIR, the leading provider of thermal sensors. And FLIR has made a strategic investment in Dronebase.

What is thermal imaging? Thermal imagery, which is also called infrared imagery, is the ability to see a much larger portion of the electromagnetic spectrum than what is visible to the eye. This page from FLIR’s website does a good job of explaining the technology.

If you put a FLIR thermal sensor on a drone, you can learn a lot more about buildings, equipment, terrain, etc, etc. The military sector has been doing this for years and the commercial sector is starting to use the technology a lot now too.

Here is an image of a roof captured with a traditional drone camera:

And here is an image of a roof captured with a drone using a FLIR thermal sensor:

This drone mission, recently run by Dronebase, identified water damage and leakage on this roof.

So what is the big deal here?

Dronebase offers the world’s largest drone pilot network. They have pilots all over the world who are skilled at operating commercial drone missions. And they have an API that captures information from drone missions at scale. Now enterprise customers can use their pilot network and API to capture thermal imagery. This will significantly reduce the cost and increase the availability of drone-based thermal imagery to enterprises of all sizes and locations.

If you want to learn more, you can contact Dronebase here and start using thermal imagery to improve your business operations.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Nicholas Osgood

    Thanks for the post Fred! We are excited to bring this technology to our enterprise customers to help them bring actionable data to their most important assets, properties and infrastructure. We’ll have some exciting opportunities for FLIR certified training to our pilot network!

    1. awaldstein

      How critical is training the market on the usage of this data to your strategy.Or is the segment already there, just latent?

      1. Nicholas Osgood

        So I am learning a ton right now going through FLIR Infrared Training. The science about temperature and heat coupled with best practices for capture is much more in depth than shooting say, a real estate job to take pretty pictures at solar noon. This type of knowledge is critical to acquire a set of data/images that can then be used to analyze to help inform a client. Bad capture = bad data = bad analysis. The segment is growing, and our ability to show an ROI, save lives, etc will further this industry.

  2. Pete Griffiths

    That is very very cool. Smart move. There are so many applications.I can see this being huge in N. Europe – checking roof insulation etc

  3. awaldstein

    To cool.Like 3D movies or hate them, the first thing we did at RealD was to purchase the tech and scientific patents that were used by industry and military to take 3d shots from satelites and spy planes and adapt that.First time I saw that at the inventors lab in Marin, I flipped, quit my job, moved to LA and jumped in. Six months later, Chicken Little was on 250 screens.This has that type of draw, change agent thing about it.

  4. walker

    This technology can help with roof maintenance and targeted repairs extending the life of roofs as well as to locate leaks and indicate when, and if, entire roof replacement is needed. I could see this becoming the gold standard as part of property condition reports for large roofs as well as a useful inspect, repair and maintain tool for roofers.

    1. JamesHRH

      My wife uses FLIR a ton in the energy industry.

  5. Mike Cautillo

    Drones can be quite helpful when the use case warrants it. Check out this company out of Toronto helping remote communities. https://dronedeliverycanada

  6. Pointsandfigures

    Much better to use a cheap drone than Tony the Tuckpointer to find flaws in buildings. In Chicago, we have a city ordinance that forces buildings to hire people to inspect the sides of the building every four years. The building I used to live in would reserve around $700k for the job.

    1. JamesHRH

      Jeez. Cost saving central.

    2. Salt Shaker

      NYC inspection is required every 5 yrs. It’s a bit of a racket, particularly w/ longterm scaffolding expense. Not sure how well drones would work in ultra-urban environments? Certainly would be far more efficient relative to inspection, but is signal connectivity (and safety) relevant concerns in urban areas?

  7. JamesHRH

    I thought closing comments yesterday was weak.You either believe in openness and inclusiveness, or you don’t.Selective application of your principles means you don’t actually have any principles.You should close comments permanently or never close them.Or never blog about topics that generate comments you don’t like.The problem with social media is that everyone gets the self expresssion / narcissism angle & no one gets the responsibility to the craft & audience angle.

    1. SFG

      Hello Mr. Certain, good points. I thought the convo about the political ads would have been interesting. Don’t see how it would have exploded either right or left…

      1. KB

        You don’t?

      2. JamesHRH

        It’s the explosion that appears to be the issue.Political Comments are the issue, I assume because politics isn’t going the Fred would like.He should investigate the Chelsea Handler Method.

    2. awaldstein

      Blog owners should do what they are comfortable with. It is their blog. That is the whole idea.I see little couth or value in people who come to your blog or your presentation and say that they would do it differently and you as the person who drives it are weak cause you think differently.Just weird honestly.

      1. Salt Shaker

        Don’t disagree w/ you. Fred’s been very clear about this being his blog, etc., but at what point (if any) do the opinions/concerns of readers come into play? This blog isn’t a commercial enterprise or a business, though undoubtedly it does tangentially impact both Fred’s and the USV brands. Fred’s opinions are paramount (after all this is his house), but I’m certain if he fielded a readership study (opinions, strengths/weaknesses, etc.), the perceptions of this blog among readers would likely differ from his own. But again, that may not even be of interest to him, which frankly is his prerogative.

        1. awaldstein

          Dunno about any of this really.Long form communications with comments is coming back which is positive. We need more deliberate nuanced discussions with a lighter touch.I read the blog here often for a long time. It’s been a while since the comment string was enlightening.Not a reason to stop it just a phase with me in it.

        2. JamesHRH

          Fred has repeatedly said that he has gotten more out of the comments @ AVC than any reader could have gotten out of his posts.He should shoulder a little responsibility and respect for that.

    3. sachmo

      I agree. What’s the harm in a spirited debate? The problems you may try to avoid at this blog will just simmer and explode into a far more heated debate somewhere else. One thing I always liked about this blog is the discourse in the comments.

      1. Patrick

        The Wall Street Journal this week changed their commenting policy and system. They’ve closed comments on most articles, and seem to heavily moderate comments on the few that remain open.It’s a huge disappointment and I already find myself reading articles less. I’m always reading something, having a reaction to it, and thinking ‘I wonder what other people think of this.’ That’s what the comments are so useful for. Especially in controversial topics.Comments were a big part of the WSJ experience for me. I’ve written to the editor expressing my feelings and disappointment in the approach that they’ve taken.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          There have been comments at the WSJ? I missed that? Of course long ago, as a naive, newbie in business, I subscribed to the WSJ. Even as bad as it was, it was good enough to teach me that it was next to useless for business or anything else. It’s the traditional newsie noise but with a coat of green paint, and even that doesn’t stick very well! Since then, I read their articles: First, I follow a link there without realizing it is the WSJ. Otherwise I go there to remind myself how much I should appreciate Quanta Magazine and otherwise to see if by now they are starting to change or just go out of business.But, you mentioned that they had COMMENTS!!! Wow!!! No way the comments could be as bad as the WSJ!! At least a lot of readers would excoriate, eviscerate, chastise, ostracize, correct, etc.!!! So, the comments, no matter how bad, would have to be a few steps up for those newsies painted in peeling green!

    4. jason wright

      I doesn’t happen that often, but when it does it is disappointing.Perhaps ‘closed’ posts could be copied to a Reddit page to allow open responses. Suppression of expression is unhealthy, which is obvious, but still we keep having to ‘drone on’ about it, sadly.

      1. Patrick

        Dissenter is a Chrome plug-in that allows comments on any website. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to have developed a critical mass to be useful, although I keep checking in places.

        1. jason wright

          Thanks for the reply. So how would that work out in this situation where there’s a difference of opinion here about open and closed commenting? Is it a ‘censorship resistance’ move?

          1. Patrick

            In a case like this, unfortunately when a post is closed, you’ll like only have a self-selecting like-minded group of people fall back to the ‘censorship resistance’ platform like Dissenter (or reddit). But I suppose it’s still better than nothing, and maybe my presumption is wrong.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            The secret handshake? Uh, that’s, …, uh a “secret”!!!

    5. fredwilson

      i closed them so that you and your crew could not take over the comments and spew your nonsense.if you don’t like it, stop coming here

      1. JamesHRH

        I don’t have a crew.AVC isn’t what it was – I struggle to see how someone of your intellect, accomplishment and engagement gets any benefit from a sycophantic echo chamber.You’re building and incredibly accomplished list of Unwelcomes that I am hardly qualified to join.

        1. jason wright

          Is there a membership application process, an initiation ceremony, a secret handshake…?

        2. sigmaalgebra

          Gee, the topic was ads on mobile. Some of the data was nice. There or elsewhere about then I learned about click through rates as a function of user’s age — darned interesting especially for some initial user targeting decisions for my startup. There have been AVC hot topics, especially before the 2016 election, but I never would have guessed that the mobile ad data would be hot, controversial, etc.To me most of the value of AVC.com is in the comments; apparently for comment quality, my own comments excluded of course except for the math lectures!, AVC is in the top few percent of Internet blogs. Why? Don’t know except somehow a lot of people came, a few people left comments, and only a few of those people kept commenting. Since I’m the only one posting math here, I’m not part of any “crew”, and as far as I can tell you are not, either. But I find your comments at least interesting and often some of the best.For me, far and away the Award for Continuing Terrific Comments goes to JLM/BRC.I can’t really explain the comments here; It’s just enough to read them and keep some of the best of them.

      2. sachmo

        Fred, I think you may be referring to pro Trump comments or something along those lines. I’ve posted articles highly skeptical of him on my own blog, but I still would be loathe to censor people with pro Trump views.One trend I find really alarming is the censorship around so called ‘hate speech’. Who determines what hate speech is? The silencing of viewpoints that disagree with your or my own (that are not calls to violence or anything of that sort) creates a larger problem than the initial so called ‘hate’ speech itself. It creates a climate of distrust, where each side no longer just disagrees but views the other as ‘morally repugnant’.Surely we can disagree without thinking someone else is a bad person for having different viewpoints, right?Today, the right-wing people are being censored on platforms like Amazon, twitter, etc. often for just having conservative views (not talking abt ppl actually calling for violence — that’s totally different). And this blog gets enough eyeballs of important people to influence policies of companies like Twitter, FB, Amazon…Tomorrow, when the right-wing ppl are in charge, the left-wing ppl will be censored.These things come in cycles and what goes around, comes around. If you wouldn’t want your non-violent left leaning views to be censored in the future, then I think it would be counter-productive to censor someone else’s non-violent right leaning views, however much you disagree with them.

  8. William Mougayar

    Fire fighting is also another big use case for this technology.

  9. Paul Zettler

    The fact they are going to be able to just keep expanding their services as the drones themselves improve as well as the types of cameras and their capabilities is going to be significantly valuable over the long term. The commercial potential for drone and drone related services continues to expand. Incredibly exciting to see what they’re doing in the marketplace.

    1. fredwilson


  10. Richard

    Can this technology measure Cow Flatulants (asking for a Washington DC friend) ?

  11. Chimpwithcans

    Your dronebase posts always get me excited about the future.

  12. Rick Mason

    There’s one market not mentioned and that’s agriculture. Right now consultants are using satellites but they’re expensive and resolution isn’t as high. But the biggest problem is with clouds blocking the shot. Drones have a quicker turnaround and fly lower. Right now you’re probably limited to just high valuation irrigated crops like vegetables but that is not a small market.I started doing infrared photography of crops in 1983. I used film that was specially ordered from Kodak and needed to be refrigerated when it wasn’t in the camera. I took a 35 mm camera in a Cessna (where they had removed the passenger seat) and pointed the it out an inspection port while laying on my belly. Fun times indeed!

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Yes, the really good infrared detectors are cooled! IIRC the infrared guided missiles have inside a supply of gas that, I guess, expands and cools the IR sensor!

    2. Frank Vallese

      Be careful. Many of the satellite-based infrared imaging systems operate in the near infrared band where spectral reflectance reveals crop health and vegetation type. FLIR’s popular drone-based cameras operate in the thermal infrared band. Lots of applications, including roof moisture detection (moist areas commonly stay warm longer) as well as power line inspection (degrading electrical connections get hot).

  13. JamesHRH

    I defy you to classify any of my comments in that way, unless they are in response to a smear or ad hominem attack.I spent several years here bouncing people who rolled that way. It’s an unsupportable statement.The comment that it is unprincipled to close comments when you espouse openness in all other aspects of technology is simple logic & no where near an ad hominem attack.The opinion that Fred should do better because people here have invested in being commenters is also completely valid.As is the opinion that his position in the industry demands a higher level of leadership. The idea that he is prominent & wealthy but that those benefits carry no responsibilities is what plagues western society – everyone takes; no one accepts the consequences of that taking.As is the comment that you can’t say you are a principled person if you don’t apply those principles consistently, that’s not an ad hominem either. It’s a universal truth.Come on Charlie.Fred wants it both ways. That you espouse support for that is surprising.

  14. JamesHRH

    1) I said that social media feeds narcissism, primarily because anyone can do it (there are no filters or standards). General comment.2) I’ve been called some pretty despicable things here, mostly by regulars and mostly while you were busy on bakery issues. And all completely baseless, emotional attacks with no foundation.People lashing out at me because their feels were hurt. You are saying that I should just accept 14 yo behaviour?When I turn the focus back, the comment has – with almost no exception – been deleted. And, I then delete my reply.I’ve also run off some outright trolls in my day.3) Leadership in CompSci in NYC is great. It also is in Fred’s best interest, which I am not opposed to at all.NYC CompSci education has nothing to do with Fred’s long standing and vocal opposition to closed tech systems. The idea that he would sing that song to his benefit ( after all, open = more innovation = more investees to fund ) while being closed, even selectively, to – on the most part – some of the most civilized, smart but occasionally disagreement based discussion online is just a lack of leadership.Leadership is about doing what is right, even if you don’t like it.What are the rules?- Am I allowed to doubt crypto in the comments?- Am I allowed to call horses in the Dem Presidential race?- Can anything Trump be mentioned?- Am I not allowed to question anything that occurs with the administration of the blog?Really?Shit, if I would have commented Tuesday, it would have been to say that the Dems to bring back Chris Hughes (Obama’s online wizard, cofounder of FB).4) I am absolutely calling him unprincipled, in this regard.He’s ridiculously, almost pathologically a proponent of open systems. But he makes the comments of his blog a closed system. Yeah, on this topic, he’s not walking his talk. Hey, none of us are perfect.Getting called out in public comes with being a public figure, which he absolutely consciously chose to be when he opened the kimono on dirty VC tricks – he’s reaped a ton of benefit from that decision (as have many others).Now, he doesn’t want the static hassle – just the reputation benefit.You absolutely can argue that this is a definition of online community standards disagreement. But, doesn’t the community have a say in that, not just the blog owner?I don’t think Fred’s a bad guy.But this idea is weak.None of the ‘sewer’ comments as you described them violate the rules. Fred just doesn’t like them.I don’t think that is asking a lot.

  15. JamesHRH

    I have suggested just calling it a day to Fred. I bet it happens soon.TBH, despite the many interesting people I have truly met and learned from here (sometime only briefly, like PowerSerge), I think I will accept Fred’s invitation to go elsewhere.It is not like I’ll be missed.