Need a zoom lens for your drone? This may be it

Need a zoom lens for your camera?

For years, your “zoom” is often pitching your drone forward, or lowering the altitude of your drone. But in some situations, such as one of the first times I ever used a drone to photograph a fire (the smoke kept sending the drone higher), a zoom lens on the camera is imperative.

A zoom camera is also useful for cases like cell tower inspections, where drones need to be able to operate beyond the range of the cell tower’s electromagnetic fields, or for wind turbine inspections that need detail while staying away from the dangerous turbines.dji zenmuse z30 tapzoom

Drone maker DJI today launched the Zenmuse Z30, an aerial zoom camera targeted at industrial applications. The zoom is intended to collect visual data from over 100 meters while collecting precise details. It has 30x optical zoom and an additional 6x digital zoom. Continue reading Need a zoom lens for your drone? This may be it

Mavic Pro begins shipping today

The long-awaited Mavic Pro from DJI will begin shipping today.

DJI’s first tiny, portable drone was announced in late September, with the intent to begin shipping Oct. 15 and arrive in stores by Nov. 2.

A Reddit forum devoted to the DJI Mavic pointed out delays, included at retailers like B&H and Amazon.

“I wonder why they lied to everyone…I genuinely believe the support staff had no idea that the shipments were going to be delayed based on every one contacting them and everyone getting different dates…super shady from a company this size,” one user wrote. Continue reading Mavic Pro begins shipping today

I passed the FAA Part 107 test! Here’s what it’s like (and how I studied)

Hey guys!

This week I am super excited because I now have my remote pilot certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. I wanted to tell you a little bit about my experience, how I studied, and what to expect.

I took the test in Oakland, Calfornia at the Aviation Institute of Maintenance. There are nearly 700 FAA-approved testing centers around the U.S.!

While most testing centers do take walk-ins, it’s best if you call ahead. The FAA has designated two private companies to administer the test— either Computer Assisted Testing Service (also known as cats) or PSI / LaserGrade Computer Testing. I chose LaserGrade just because it’s the closest to where I live.

Related post: FAA Part 107 test: everything you need to know (except the answers) Continue reading I passed the FAA Part 107 test! Here’s what it’s like (and how I studied)

“A Google drone brought me a Chipotle burrito — after a four mile bus ride.”

How far along are we on the drone delivery front? Virginia Tech students are experiencing drone deliveries firsthand, but spoiler alert: the drones aren’t arriving at their doorsteps.

While drone delivery is intended to make things more efficient, but the reality is, at this point, we’re really not there yet. I talked to some Virginia Tech students to get their perspectives on what getting Chipotle burritos delivered by drone was like, and here’s what they told me.

Below is an excerpt of a story I wrote for Read the entire article here.

Something was buzzing recently at Virginia Tech—and it brought Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. burritos along with it.

Alphabet Inc.’s  Project Wing, a division of X (formerly known as Google X), tested its delivery drones late last month at the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, or VTTI, about 4 miles from the main Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia. The deliveries’ recipients were Virginia Tech students, including Ben Robson, an industrial systems engineering student and self-described ‘tech nerd’ who was hungry for a burrito and wanted to check out the hype.

Robson registered as a volunteer with Project Wing, he told MarketWatch in a telephone interview. After receiving an invitation to participate, he boarded a Blacksburg Transit Bus prearranged by Project Wing at Virginia Tech’s Squires Student Center for a 10-minute ride to VTTI. There, he was chauffeured to a temporary tent situated at the top of the hill, protected in the front with a net. Just down the hill in plain site sat a Chipotle food truck, where the burritos were prepared and loaded into the drones. Continue reading “A Google drone brought me a Chipotle burrito — after a four mile bus ride.”

Drone racing comes to LA Convention Center for International Drone Expo

When “That Drone Show” cofounder David Oneal took the stage at the 2016 NAB Show in 2016, he brought some drone racers to the netted stage to show off acrobatic freestyle maneuvers. The room had seats for 250.

As soon as the drones took to the air, the room quickly became standing room only.

“Every seat was full and people had come from all over the conference just to watch two drone racers in the air,” Oneal said. “All it was, was two freestyle drones and a PowerPoint Presentation. I was like, ‘you guys are going crazy over nothing.’”

Oneal knows what’s worth going crazy over. He’s been to 25 drone races in 14 months and has hosted six of his own in partnership with MultiGP FPV Multirotor Racing.

And he’s bringing something worth going crazy over to the International Drone Expo (IDE) in Los Angeles this December. Continue reading Drone racing comes to LA Convention Center for International Drone Expo

GoPro CEO Nick Woodman discusses Karma drone on Reddit

“Don’t call it a drone,” says GoPro CEO Nick Woodman on GoPro’s latest product, Karma. That’s the introduction to an AMA (short for Ask Me Anything on Reddit) that GoPro CEO Nick Woodman hosted on Reddit, where he took questions on a variety of topics, including Karma.

The Q&A reads like a script for a parody surfer bro (should we say ‘brah’?) movie, but it is, in fact, Nick Woodman himself writing. ‘Shredding’, ‘dudes,’ and ‘extremely stoked’ aside, here are some highlights from Woodman’s discussion, which provided insights into the future of Karma and Woodman’s thoughts on the drone manufacturer competition.

Reddit:  Will you bring out software/hardware improvements to Karma?

Nick Woodman: We will introduce updates to Karma to enhance its performance and what you can do with it. Karma already has a lot of hardware features built into it that we’re not exploiting yet, so expect more radness to come. We know everyone is excited to learn more and we promise to share more as soon as we can. Thanks for the stoke.

Get a notification when GoPro Karma is available for purchase from B&H photo at this link.

R: How do you feel the Karma holds up against recent drone industry competitors such as the DJI Mavic and the Yuneec Breeze — especially considering the difference in price point? Continue reading GoPro CEO Nick Woodman discusses Karma drone on Reddit

7 steps every beginner drone pilot should take to become a pro

The following is a guest post by Michael Karp, author of the blog Drone Business Marketer.

The FAA predicts that hobbyist drone sales will increase from 1.9 million in 2016 to 4.3 million in 2020. With that many novice pilots flying around, it’s imperative they learn how to fly safely.

Here are the 7 steps new pilots should follow in order to become a proficient drone flyer: Continue reading 7 steps every beginner drone pilot should take to become a pro

Ask Drone Girl: how can I fly over people for commercial purposes?

Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drone photography classes. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.

If a contractor wants me to take aerial footage of their construction site progress over three years — once a year — what’s the exact FAA rule about flying above people?

Isn’t it forbidden unless they’re part of the video project? Or with a waiver (which can take up to 90 days)? Can the drone be above construction workers? Above moving cars from the streets next to the site? Above people walking in these streets? Even if 90% of the time the drone will be only above the site?

Hey there!

I reached out to my friend and brilliant drone lawyer Loretta Alkalay, to ensure you get an accurate answer to your question.

Here goes:

A commercial operation would require compliance with the new Part 107 regulations, including using a pilot in command who holds a remote pilot certificate.  Continue reading Ask Drone Girl: how can I fly over people for commercial purposes?

Drone Girl

Reporting on drones, sometimes with drones