As drone conference season starts to pick up, it’s also time for a wave of new products to be announced.
While the drone industry can expect to get plenty of new commercial drones this year, many of this year’s announcements are not drones, as entrepreneurs and investors realize it’s difficult to compete with DJI, which has an estimated 70% market share.
But while the drone industry may be seeing fewer new drones being built, hardware is not dead. Instead, the hardware makers in the drone industry are turning their attention away from the drones instead and to different types of hardware. From different cameras to ways of improving GPS, commercial drone manufacturers are continuing to move away from building their own drones and instead looking for ways to improve DJI’s products.
Most of the drones mentioned below will make their public debut at Interdrone 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here are 4 new products you need to know about:
1. FlightWave Edge
Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup FlightWave Aerospace Systems today launched its FlightWave Edge drone, a long-range drone targeted at mapping, remote patrol and surveillance, and ecosystem monitoring customers. The drone, which has an open source payload development kit, is standout for its ability to transform from tri-copter to forward flight — meaning it has vertical takeoff and landing but is a hybrid drone, able to fly like a fixed wing drone as well.
FlightWave has a whopping two hours of continuous flight time. While it’s an electric drone, it leverages solar power for increased range and endurance. The drone also has a swappable, twist-lock payload pay to accommodate a variety of payloads.
The airframe itself, including detachable wings, touch screen LCD controller, batteries, front and rear propellers, and weatherproof case retails for $10,000. The system is then customized with your payloads. Payloads range in price from $2000 for a color mapping camera, to $7000 for a thermal plus color mapping array, to $12,000 for a gimbal stabilized color and thermal camera.
Bonus points: the drone claims to be moisture resistant and has been fully tested flying in the rain. The company anticipates making a full waterproof drone, capable of submerging up to 1 meter deep, by the end of 2018.
2. Atlas Pro
The Atlas Pro from Latvian dronemaker Atlas Dynamics is a customized carbon fiber tri-copter drone (many drones on the market today are made of plastic) with modular payloads. The drone can fly for up to 55 minutes as far as 30 miles, and as high as 20,000 feet.
The drone will begin selling this quarter.
The creators of Atlas Dynamics in July announced that they raised $8 million from private and institutional investors.
3. Sentera’s Double 4K precision agriculture sensor
It’s not a drone itself, but Sentera’s new Double 4K precision agriculture sensor turns DJI Phantom 4 Professional, DJI Phantom 4 Advanced and DJI Phantom 4 Standard drones into commercial agriculture powerhouses.
The sensor is able to collect normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), normalized difference red edge (NDRE), and high-resolution RGB data in a single flight.
Sentera is one of the major remote sensing suppliers for the agriculture industry.
4. Loki GNSS positioning system
For DJI drone users looking for survey-level accuracy, GeoCue Group’s new GNSS positioning system can turn a prosumer drone — either a DJI Phantom 4 Pro or an Inspire 2 drone — into a survey-grade piece of equipment.
The Loki uses a AsteRx-m2 multi-frequency, multi-constellation GNSS engine with 448 hardware channels to find and lock satellites. The company purports that their product is a “plug and play” solution, with minimal setup necessary.
The company already works closely with major mapping companies such as DroneDeploy.
The Loki will start at $4,995 and is now available for pre-orders.