UAViators is a TripAdvisor for drone tourism


Drone-flying tourists who want to carry their quadcopters with them on holiday can rejoice: They can now consult a website, UAViators, to see where the flying’s good.

The website’s creator, Patrick Meier, calls it “TripAdvisor for drones.” It’s a free and editable Wiki launched this month where people who’ve visited a new country for the flying — or for photography — can record their experience bringing their gear through customs, and any other suggestions for where it is and isn’t possible to fly.

When Meier was in Qatar, he had to become a member of the Qatar science club before he could fly. “That’s information that not many people know,” he said. When others visit, they can consult the Wiki, and see Meier’s tips.

“Dronies” — selfies taken with a camera-carrying drone — are becoming more and more popular. Vimeo and YouTube both have channels for them. This winter, New Zealand Tourism invested in a DJI Phantom to capture tourist “dronies” on the South Island ski slopes.

Meier is perhaps more interested in the world of international small aircraft regulation than most — he founded a group called Humanitarian UAV Network goal is to connect all the people in the world who are using drones to help after a natural disaster. For a group that needed to travel quickly, Meier wanted to host a single website with tips for a new place.

“I thought it was ripe area for crowdsourcing,” he said. “There’s tens and thousands of people with small UAVs,” or unmanned aerial vehicles, as small drones are sometimes known. 

Many countries have laws in place — but in several others, regulations are still up in the air.

Also, “it’s one thing to have the laws, but it’s another thing to see the reality on the ground is,” Meier said. So far, Meier has flown his quadcopter in eight countries including Mexico and Turkey.

Nidhi Subbaraman writes about science and research. Email her at [email protected]
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