PrecisionHawk, a leading commercial drone and data company, announced at AUVSI Xponential 2017 that it now offers its mapping and analytics software to commercial drone operators for free. That’s right, you can now get PrecisionMapper for free.

PrecisonHawk CEO Michael Chasen believes that the commercial drone market is set to erupt as Part 107 makes it less complicated for drone operators to become certified by the FAA. However, he believes that the high cost of commercial software is one of the limiting factors holding the industry back.

“More and more people are using drones for business purposes, but software is a real limiting factor,” he says. “When someone pays thousands of dollars for a drone, they are shocked to find it costs another thousand dollars to buy the software which will actually make the machine useful.”

While Chasen says the move to offer the software for free is a way to give back to the nascent commercial drone industry, it’s also a business maneuver that has paid off for him in the past. Chasen was formerly CEO of education tech giant Blackboard, a company which was acquired in 2011 for $1.64 billion. That company got its start by offering hosted software for teachers for free.

“There was a time when people said teachers would not want to put their class materials online,” says Chasen. “But when we made the service available, so many teachers jumped onboard it became impossible for most to imagine offering a class without it.”

Even using a prosumer drone like a DJI Phantom, users can cover a large area and receive close to real-time data without resolution limitations to support urban property management. PrecisionHawk hopes offering free drone mapping software will ignite a similar explosion in the world of drones.

The PrecisionMapper software previously cost up to $450 per month for a plan with unlimited data storage. The software, which stitches together a map from aerial data in both 2D and 3D, will now be free for up to 60 aerial surveys per year ― plus free data storage. This free package includes map exporting and access to analysis tools for agriculture, insurance, and the energy industries. The analytic tools include volume calculations for surveyors and vegetative health analysis for agricultural assessments.

The company says that the service will limit the amount of free hard drive space available, but Chasen says it will “be more than enough to run a business.” The software is available on all DJI and PrecisionHawk drones.

Chasen believes that the growth potential for commercial drone operations is enormous, and that this announcement will help relieve one of the remaining impediments.

“This is too new of an industry to charge $1,000 a month to use software,” he says. “Part 107 helped open the floodgates. I am confident that with the right incentives, this is a giant industry ready to explode.”