All posts by Sally French

Autel Evo aims to compete with DJI Mavic Pro

Autel has a new drone, and it looks and feels a lot like the DJI Mavic Pro. The Chinese drone manufacturer launched the Evo drone this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The foldable drone comes with obstacle avoidance via sensors on the rear and front of the copter. The drone is controlled via an RC transmitter with a built-in, 3.3 inch OLED screen that transmits live HD video as far as 7 kilometers. That’s a handy feature implemented by other major drone manufacturers like Yuneec, eliminating the need to connect an external device like a smartphone or tablet just to be able to see what the drone’s camera is seeing. Continue reading Autel Evo aims to compete with DJI Mavic Pro

U.S. drone registration has officially topped 1 million

The total number of drones now registered in the U.S. through the Federal Aviation Administration has topped one million.

That number is the sum of about 878,000 hobbyists, who each receive one identification number for all the drones they own, plus 122,000 commercial, public and other drones, which are individually registered by aircraft.

“The tremendous growth in drone registration reflects the fact that they are more than tools for commerce and trade, but can save lives, detect hazardous situations and assist with disaster recovery, said U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao in a prepared statement.  “The challenge is to remove unnecessary hurdles to enable the safe testing and integration of this technology into our country’s airspace.”

Under current law, all drones that weigh more than 0.55 pounds are required to be registered through the FAA. Registration was originally required under the FAA’s small drone registration rule effective December 21, 2015.  That rule was overturned by a court decision in May 2017, however the rule was again reinstated in December 2017 via the National Defense Authorization Act. Continue reading U.S. drone registration has officially topped 1 million

Intel’s light-show drones are flying over the Bellagio fountain in Las Vegas

Just when you thought you had seen it all in Las Vegas, there’s now a drone light show to watch.

Intel is bringing its famous drone light shows to the Las Vegas Strip this week over the Fountains of Bellagio as part of the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show.

Intel’s drone light shows consists of a fleet of 250 drones, dubbed “Shooting Star” drones, which fly in coordinated patterns and change colors in 4 billion color combinations to make light shapes in the sky. This week’s Vegas performance has the drones flying over the Bellagio fountains to a  rendition of the song “Stargazing” by Kygo.

The Intel Shooting Star light show performances will take place twice nightly (at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. through Thursday, Jan. 11.

Intel’s drones have been serving as nighttime entertainment at events such as Coachella, the Super Bowl and Walt Disney World.  They recently flew over the skies of Los Angeles for an event promoting Wonder Woman.

Related read: Intel’s Wonder Woman light show powered by all-female crew

Each drone is about the weight of a volleyball and can be programmed with relative ease to light up in any shape for commercial entertainment light shows.

Intel’s drones are not publicly for sale, and the chip maker would not disclose how much they would cost or whether they are more cost effective than their nighttime light show counterpart, fireworks.  However, rather than fading out like fireworks, the drones can flash on and off and also create much more precise shapes than fireworks would. They also are intended to reduce the environmental impact that fireworks have on air pollution.

Earlier this week, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich used his keynote to present an indoor light show performed by 100 of Intel’s Shooting Star Mini drones, marking the record for the most drones flown simultaneously indoors by a single pilot.

Yuneec has a racing drone — and it costs less than $200

Chinese dronemaker Yuneec today launched its first racing drone.

Called the HD Racer, the palm-sized drone is designed for racers with a range of skill levels. The HD Racer uses an all-digital, low latency HD video downlink to allow pilots to see what the drone is seeing in real-time. Additionally, pilots can record their flights in 1080p at 60fps.yuneec racing drone

Protected blades mean the drone is intended to be flown indoors.

The HD Racer will retail at $179.99, and will be in the second half of 2018.

Yuneec today also announced a fixed wing drone called the Firebird FPV, as well as an improvement to its Typhoon H drone called the Typhoon H Plus. Continue reading Yuneec has a racing drone — and it costs less than $200

Finally, a DJI-powered drone called Tello that costs less than $100

One of the most buzzed-about drones to come out of CES 2018 is the Tello drone, a $99 toy drone made by a Chinese startup called Ryze Tech.

The drone was made in partnership with both DJI and Intel, capitalizing on an Intel vision processing chip and flight stabilization from DJI.

The drone, which was unveiled Monday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada, is targeted at people looking to learn how to use drones how to code, as well as people looking for a low-cost introduction to stunt flying and shooting videos.tello dji educational drone $99 ryze

The Tello drone, which weighs just 80 grams, can fly for 13 minutes and shoot 5 megapixel photos. For context, DJI’s next-smallest drone, the DJI Spark, weighs 300 grams, can fly for 16 minutes and shoots 12 megapixel photos. The drone won’t have an RC transmitter, but can be controlled via a mobile app. Continue reading Finally, a DJI-powered drone called Tello that costs less than $100

DJI Ronin-S brings drone-like video to DSLR, mirrorless cameras

DJI has launched the Ronin-S at CES 2018 in Last Vegas, bringing silky, drone-like video to DSLR and mirrorless cameras via its gimbal technology.

The Chinese dronemaker has been making single-handed camera stabilizers for smartphones and its own cameras for the past few years through its Osmo product line. It has also made larger rigs for DSLR cameras through its Ronin line. But the Ronin-S promises to combine the best of both worlds by creating a gimbal for high-end cameras that isn’t bulky or complicated to set up.

The Ronin-S says it is compatible with a range of cameras including the Canon 5D series,  Nikon D series, Sony Alpha series, Panasonic GH series and Olympus OM-D series.ronin-s dji gimbal camera

It is still not clear how much weight the gimbal can support, which means users who need to shoot with large telephoto lenses or other accessories may want to think twice before committing to the Ronin-S.

Prices and shipping will be announced in the second quarter of 2018.

More bad news for GoPro Karma drone after hundreds of layoffs

Another round of layoffs has reportedly hit action camera maker GoPro, and it is primarily set to affect the GoPro Karma drone.

GoPro is laying off around 200-300 employees this month, according to a report from TechCrunch, largely concentrated in the company’s drone team.

According to TechCrunch, the company relieved impacted employees of duties on Jan. 4 but would keep them on the payroll until February 16, likely planning to hold the news for after CES and perhaps tie it to an upcoming earnings report as in past instances.

Related read: GoPro CEO Nick Woodman discusses Karma drone on Reddit Continue reading More bad news for GoPro Karma drone after hundreds of layoffs

Lily drone review: It would have been awesome — if it were 1/5 of the price

The Lily drone has had a rough go — and things haven’t gotten better since its release.

It’s a nice little drone with a decent camera that’s extremely easy to fly and set up. But the big problem? At $699, the Lily drone is 5x more expensive than what it should be.

A brief history of Lily Drone:

For the uninitiated, Lily launched to much fanfare in 2015 on crowdfunding site Indiegogo, raising $34 million in pre-orders. The promo video showed a sleek drone that took off when thrown in the air and could navigate around objects — something no drones were able to do at the time.

The Wall Street Journal put Lily on its list of products “that will change your life,” and the drone’s cofounders were named in Fortune’s 30 Under 30.

(Drone Girl has a policy against reporting on Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns because there is little to no guarantee the drones will come to production in the form they were promised.)

Of course, Lily was a textbook example of that.

After a series of delays and hundreds of angry customers, Lily’s creators eventually admitted they couldn’t finance production and said they would give refunds to backers.

In January 2017, Mota Group, which at one point filed for IPO, bought the brand name of Lily.

Related read: Mota’s Jet Jat Nano is an excellent stocking stuffer for newbies on a budget

Many in the drone community felt it was an odd choice for another company to buy such a tarnished name. But if anyone could do it — Mota had a shot. Mota is the company behind the Jet Jat Nano,  a delightful $30 toy drone. It’s easy to set up, and at such a low price point, tough to go wrong with. Continue reading Lily drone review: It would have been awesome — if it were 1/5 of the price