All posts by Sally French

Lily drone company shuts down two years after pre-orders opened (without delivering any drones)

The much-hyped Lily drone, the tiny, waterproof drone that seemingly could fly right out of your hands, has reached its end.

The drone’s founders, Antoine Balaresque and Henry Bradlow, sent out an email to backers on Wednesday announcing that the company was shutting down.

The company never shipped any drones, despite pre-orders opening up two years ago.

Here is the complete text of the email: Continue reading Lily drone company shuts down two years after pre-orders opened (without delivering any drones)

Save $10 on all Drone Girl hoodies and sweatshirts

How cute is this amazing woman? That’s my mom! I guess you could call her Drone Mom!

Anyway, since she is rocking a Quad Squad hoodie in the Missouri snow, I wanted to share the love with all of you.

Now through January 31, get $10 off ALL hoodies and jackets from the Drone Girl shop using coupon code “Hoodies10”.

That means you can get your own “I Fly Like A Girl” hoodie, “Quad Squad” hoodie (modeled by my mom) or “We Can Fly It” raglan sweater.

Visit the Drone Girl shop here.

Stay warm, everybody!

Parrot will lay off 290 people — 1/3 of its drone staff

This is an excerpt of a story originally written for Marketwatch.com. Read the entire story here.

2016 was a rough year for the consumer drone industry — and French electronics company Parrot is the latest to announce it took a hit.

Parrot, which makes the Bebop consumer drone and recently launched the Disco fixed wing  drone, announced Monday a plan to reduce its drone team of 840 employees by 290 people — about one-third. 150 positions would be cut from its headquarters in France, along with other positions around the world, according to its most recent earnings report.

Parrot reported fourth-quarter revenues of $89.8 million, below its target of $105.7 million. Drones generated $63.4 million in revenue for the company, which also manufacturers headphones and smart devices including flower pots. Parrot said it is targeting 10% growth for its drone business in 2017 with a goal to break even on operation costs.

Parrot isn’t the only company to announce layoffs. GoPro announced in 2016 that it would lay off 200 employees following the recall of its Karma drone, after some customers reported that the drones were losing power and falling from the sky. GoPro has since said it will resume Karma sales, but has not said when they will return to market.

A few months prior to the GoPro news, 3D Robotics, laid off 150 members of its staff. At its peak, the company had employed more than 350 people.

Yuneec shifts focus to customer service and a new H520 drone

Yuneec had a major presence at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Nevada this year.

In past years it has unveiled its sense and avoid technology. But this year, the focus is back to the basics — and that’s a good thing.

Yuneec this week announced upgrades to its enterprise and commercial applications, while also focusing on upgrades to its customer service programs.

Yuneec H520 commercial drone

Yuneec unveiled the H520, a six-rotor drone for commercial applications. It looks very much like the Typhoon H drone (but is bright orange for high visibility), building off the six-rotor platform (that is capable of flying under emergency situations with just five rotors) while incorporating commercial-grade cameras and applications for high-end commercial use.  Continue reading Yuneec shifts focus to customer service and a new H520 drone

Ambarella CES announcements provide clues of what 2018’s drones will look like

This is an excerpt of a piece originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire piece here.

Ambarella’s booth at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada isn’t as sexy as DJI’s glass tunnel with Mavic’s flying through it, but it’s one of the most important booths at providing a clue as to what next year‘s drones will look like.

The image processing company announced two new chips for drone cameras, as well as a drone racing-related upgrade to an existing chip.

Gimbal-less drones?

Ambarella announced the H22 chip for cameras in drones, which films in 4K HD video and — in an important upgrade — includes electronic image stabilization, removing the need for gimbals. Gimbals are the pivoted camera mounts that eliminate jittery or sudden movements in a drone — but also add weight to drones, take up space and reduce flight time.  Continue reading Ambarella CES announcements provide clues of what 2018’s drones will look like

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

FAA predicts 7 million drones in U.S. by 2020

By 2020, there could be 7 million drones sold in the U.S. — that’s means about one drone for every resident of Hawaii, Alaska, Nevada and Kansas combined.

“Just like last year, drones were one of the hottest gift items this past holiday season, but unlike a lot of holiday gifts, this one is clearly not a fad,” Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Michael Huerta said during a speech Friday at the 2017 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“And the pace of change is breathtaking,” he said. “It seems like someone is coming up with a new way to use drones every day.”

The FAA made a number of changes in 2016 to integrate drones into the U.S. airspace. The Part 107 rule in August allows people to fly drones for commercial purposes as long as they obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate. In the four months since this rule went into effect, more than 30,000 people have started the Remote Pilot Application process. About 16,000 have taken the Remote Pilot Knowledge Exam, and almost 90 percent have passed, according to the FAA.

2016 was also the first full year of drone registration. In the past year, more than 670,000 drone users have registered aircraft – including more than 37,000 during the last two weeks of December.

Huerta said that the FAA’s next steps will be allowing drones to fly over people. Currently, drones cannot fly over people without applying for and receiving a waiver, which means applications like package delivery in urban areas are not possible.

Watch the entire press conference, streamed here on Facebook Live.

DJI at CES 2017: new limited edition Phantom 4 deviates from the iconic look

DJI has a new lineup of products at CES 2017, including a new limited edition Phantom 4 to commemorate the Chinese New Year.

dji phantom 4 limited edition chinese new year cesIt’s the same drone, but a new color scheme. DJI’s new, limited edition Phantom 4 was designed by Martin Sati, featuring images of a phoenix, and drawing on air, fire, water and earth as elements in the art. The Phantom 4 Chinese New Year Edition will sell for $1,199  and ship Jan. 23. It will be sold exclusively at Apple Stores, DJI Flagship Stores, Tmall DJI Store and the DJI online store.

osmo mobile silver ces djiDJI at CES also announced  two new Osmo product extensions — the Osmo Mobile Silver and Zenmuse M1. The $299 Osmo Mobile Silver is an enhanced version of the Osmo Mobile, with a run time of 4.5 hours. The $169 Zenmuse M1 allows owners of the original Osmo stabilizer to mount a smartphone. Both products will ship in the end of January.dji ground station pro

DJI also announced a new aerial mapping app called Ground Station Pro (or GS Pro). It’s designed for professional operators to plan autonomous flights with a few taps. The 3D Map Area function allows the aircraft to generate flight paths after the operator has set their required flight zone and camera parameters. The aircraft will then follow this route throughout its mission. The image data captured during these flights can be input into 3D reconstruction software to generate 3D maps, while the mission itself can be saved for re-use.

The app is designed for iPads and is free.dji crystalsky

At DJI’s CES booth, it is showcasing two variations of its CrystalSky prototype, an ultra-bright monitor developed specifically for outdoor aerial imaging operators. With 2000 cd/m² of brightness, it’s more than four times as bright as most mobile devices. It is expected to be released later this year.