One of the first companies to get a drone business off the ground in New England is not a next-generation robotics company but rather a small startup that’s betting that people are already itching to hire freelance drone pilots for an aerial photo shoot.
Cambridge-based Fly4Me hosts a website that connects drone pilots with customers who want surveys, maps, building inspections, and other tasks suited to a drone’s unique perspective. The startup officially opened for business last week, following approval from the Federal Aviation Administration this spring.
The commercial use of drone aircraft — usually small, inexpensive remote-controlled gadgets — is still heavily regulated by the federal government. Entrepreneurs have argued that this approach has stalled innovation in the space. Fly4Me’s FAA certification says it can “conduct community training workshops, research and development, and aerial inspections of buildings and land within the United States.”
It’s among the first group of some 600 companies that the FAA has approved to fly drones commercially. Also on that list is Boston-based insurer Liberty Mutual, which got the green light last week to conduct inspections of roofs, homes, and large structures after events like a fire.
Fly4Me formed in December and got FAA approval in mid-April.
A beta version of its website debuted last week. There, homeowners or companies who need an aerial scout can post a description of their job, and pilots who own and fly camera-carrying drones can register, view listings, and bid for a gig.