All posts by Sally French

DroneSeed is sending drones to change the forestry industry

DroneSeed is the latest example of how drones are taking jobs — but in a good way.

The $200 billion forestry industry depends on manual labor to plant seeds in the ground, with work crews using shovels for the chore. One human worker typically can plant 800 seeds in a day, but DroneSeed predicts its device can plant 800 seeds per hour. It’s back-bending work — literally. Workers have to do 1,000 backbends a day and carry small trees up and down hills. Some estimate the work involved in one day of working as a seed planter is equivalent to running two marathons each day.

DroneSeed’s drones blasting fertilizer and seeds into the ground at 350 feet per second.

DroneSeed says its solution is good for the environment, worker safety and investors. DroneSeed’s drones currently have a flight time of about 30 minutes; after changing batteries, the drones can cover an acre within 1.5 hours.

Read more about DroneSeed in the full article I wrote over at MarketWatch.com.

 

How to make money in drones (through investing)

Want to know how to make money in drones? Investors can now hop on the drone bandwagon, without even having to get into the digital cockpit.

The nascent drone industry has been rapidly growing, with PricewaterhouseCoopers valuing the drone industry at over $127 billion. And a new ETF has paved the way for investors to try and take a piece of it. The PureFunds Drone Economy Strategy ETF currently comprises 41 companies that are involved in the drone industry.

“People really believe in the potential of the drone industry,” Andrew Chanin, CEO of PureFunds said. “This is a way for investors to get exposure.”

The drone ETF’s holdings currently include military drone manufacturer AeroVironment Inc. and consumer consumer-drone manufacturer Parrot. There are also companies that make produce drone components of drones like Ambarella, which supplies many of the chips for the cameras in high-end, commercial-grade drones and  Flir, an Oregon-based sensor manufacturer that focuses on thermal imaging and makes drone cameras for drone behemoth Chinese-based drone-making giant DJI.

I wrote about the ETF over at MarketWatch.com. Get everything you need to know here.

DJI Phantom 4 vs. Yuneec Typhoon H: which is better?

It’s time for the DJI Phantom 4 vs. Yuneec Typhoon H showdown.

I had the pleasure of getting to review both of these drones. The truth is, both of these drones are truly incredible when you consider how far the technology has come just in the past couple years.  Both the DJI Phantom 4 and Yuneec Typhoon H have a lot of similarities — similar price tag, both have collision avoidance, similar camera quality.

But there are some minor differences that could make a big impact in your decision on which one to buy.

DJI Phantom 4 vs. Yuneec Typhoon H Cost:

DJI Phantom 4 vs. Yuneec Typhoon H Camera:

Both drones are intended for professional aerial photographers. Both cameras offer 12 megapixel resolution and 4K video resolution. The gimbal on both is incredibly smooth. Both offer a maximum frame rate of 30 frames per second in live view to deliver crisp and clear footage. I shot some footage on the same day at approximately the same time near Drone Girl HQ to show you difference in footage. None of this footage is edited or processed, so you can see exactly how it looks in the camera. (Make sure you watch in HD!)

For me, the video quality is a toss-up. Each photographer may have their own aesthetic preferences, so I’ll let you make that decision for yourself.

Winner: Toss-up

DJI Phantom 4 vs. Yuneec Typhoon H controller
Yuneec’s controller (left) and DJI’s controller (right) plus my iPhone

DJI Phantom 4 vs. Yuneec Typhoon H Controller:

DJI’s is controlled through a smartphone or tablet, which you in turn plug into the Phantom controller via USB. DJI’s app to operate the drones is very good, but I hate having to rely on my iPhone. It seems like one more thing to sync, charge and worry about. I’ve never liked that about DJI’s products. Continue reading DJI Phantom 4 vs. Yuneec Typhoon H: which is better?

General Electric capitalizes on drone hype with Drone Week in Rio

Big brands love to hop on hot trends, and it looks like General Electric is the latest to jump on the drone bandwagon.

We saw Amazon do it when they announced Prime Air in 2013, saying they could see drone package delivery by 2017 (likely not). We saw Domino’s do it, delivering pizza with drones. Countless other brands besides these have done it too. But the latest from General Electric strikes me as both bizarre, but also kind of cool in bringing drones to the mainstream mindset.

Continue reading General Electric capitalizes on drone hype with Drone Week in Rio

Blade Nano QX2 review: a great introduction to drone racing

Looking to get into drone racing? The Blade Nano QX2 is a must-have. I’ve always been curious about drone racing ever since I first learned about it a few years ago. But I never knew how to get started. My buddy and star drone racer Zoe Stumbaugh told me to get into it. I’ve watched Aerial Sports League host races and have wanted to get into it.

That all changed once I got my hands on Horizon Hobby’s Blade Nano QX2 FPV drone. For under $450 plus a few minutes of setup time, you could be well on your way to becoming the next great drone racer.

blade nano qx2 drone racing gear horizon hobby
Everything you need to get started in FPV racing drones is right here, and costs less than $500.

Here’s what you need: Continue reading Blade Nano QX2 review: a great introduction to drone racing

Drones fly at America’s Got Talent

America’s Got Talent’s latest episode featuring feats of engineering, science and creativity as drones graced the stage.

Japanese multimedia dance troupe Elevenplay used drones and lights to create a stunning visual performance. The troupe, headed by director and principal choreographer Mikiko, is known for incorporating advanced technology into their work, and in the past has used projection mapping, lasers and iPads in their performances.

And judges Simon Cowell, Heidi Klum, Mel B and Howie Mandel were impressed. Mandel and Klum gave the group a standing ovation.
Continue reading Drones fly at America’s Got Talent

No, you cannot fly your drone at the Golden Gate Bridge

During my annual Memorial Day San Francisco Bay cycle with my family, I noticed something a little different as I was getting onto the Golden Gate Bridge from Sausalito.

A sign mounted on a pole in the Marin County parking lot for the Golden Gate Bridge says “Unmanned Aircraft/ Drones: Launching, landing or operating unmanned or remote controlled aircraft/drones is prohibited near the Golden Gate Bridge. Please report all activity to Golden Gate Bridge Dispatch (415) 923-2230.”

What struck me as odd here was just how vague this was. What is “near” the Golden Gate Bridge? Can I fly over it or under it, just not through it? Do I need to stay 5 miles away? Can I fly past it and get a panning shot of the bridge, but not fly over it? Where is the citation number enforcing this? This all seems incredibly vague, especially for someone who might not know that they can check for no fly zones through apps like Kittyhawk or Hover. What’s legal here?

So, I contacted my buddy Jonathan Rupprecht, a lawyer focusing on drones and author of the book “Drones: Their Many Civilian Uses and the U.S. Laws Surrounding Them“, to get some answers. Continue reading No, you cannot fly your drone at the Golden Gate Bridge

Kiteboarder Karlie Thoma uses drones too

Our latest Drone Girl profile is a little different and features someone whose profession has nothing to do with drones, yet they entered her life, which happens to be the life of a kiteboarder.

18-year-old kiteboarder Karlie Thoma recently worked with Salt Lake City-based production company Atomic City Films to film a short film about her kiteboarding.

The film was shot in Maui, Hawaii on the Autel Robotics X-Star Drone with 4K Camera. Here’s our interview:

Drone Girl: Usually I profile people who work with drones as operators, but your story is a little different. You worked with drones so they could film you! How did this whole project come about?

Karlie Thoma: I was approached by Rhett (Director at Atomic City Films) who saw my pictures on Instagram. He then contacted me to set up a time for us to meet and shortly after that we were having lunch discussing his idea of the shoot. I recommend some of my favorite spots to kiteboard. It was difficult to narrow the spots down. There were no fly zones because the beach was close to the airport. We ended up choosing a prime location on Maui’s north shore, Baby Beach.An aerial shot from an Autel Robotics drone featuring Kiteboarder Karlie Thoma in Maui. The picture is from Atomic City Film's short film, shot via an Autel Robotics drone.

DG: How many drones were up in the air each time?
KT: There were 2 drones. One of the drones actually hit my lines and the drone fell into the water. In-between breaks I went diving but did not find the drone.
DG: What was it like working with the drones?

Continue reading Kiteboarder Karlie Thoma uses drones too