autel camera modules

CES 2017: new Autel camera modules coming to drones this year

Autel, creator of the orange, “flying pumpkin” consumer drone, announced upgrades to its camera modules at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Autel received favorable reviews when I reviewed it last year, especially because of its removable camera module.

“The one thing I absolutely love about Autel’s drone that you won’t find in the Phantom is that the gimbal and camera is easily removable. This really benefits the consumer, who eventually may be able to upgrade their camera or add some type of other contraption in the spot where the gimbal is (pizza delivery, anyone)?” I wrote back in 2016. Now, Autel is delivering on that with the launch of two new camera modules.

FLIR Duo camera module for Autel X-Star

One is a FLIR Duo dual thermal and visual camera module, which can show thermal and standard, visual light images. It will allow users to switch between the two in-flight, view both at the same time with picture-in-picture, or see a blended image of both. Thermal images from drones are useful for business applications including inspection and first response. The FLIR Duo will launch in the first quarter of 2017.

Upgraded visual camera

Autel’s other new camera announcement is focused on photographers, offering upgraded picture quality, using a 1 inch CMOS sensor. The camera will shoot 4K Ultra HD video and 20MP stills, meaning it performs better in low light and can capture more cinematic images with a wider aperture. That camera will launch in the second quarter of 2017.

Autel software development kit for X-Star

Besides cameras, Autel also announced a Software Development Kit (SDK) for its X-Star series that will be announced in 2017. SDK is useful to developers who want to customize drones particularly for commercial applications, such as autonomous flight operations or flight control. For more information on the SDK, visit

Vertical takeoff and landing for Kestrel

And on the fixed wing side of things, Autel’s enterprise oriented Kestrel drone will be available in 2017 with vertical takeoff and landing — making it a sort of hybrid quadcopter and fixed-wing aircraft. Kestrel was originally launched as a concept at CES 2016 as an end-to-end system including flight planning tools, a ground control station, flexible payload options, and data analysis tools, with a flight time of about two hours.

Enter to win a free Autel X-Star Premium

And to add to this CES roundup, Autel is holding a giveaway for an X-Star Premium that ends on Sunday, Jan. 8. Enter here.

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