The following post is a guest column from Chidubem Ezinne, Software Engineer, drone enthusiast, and founder and creator of TestingAlpha. The views of guest posters belong to the author and are not necessarily reflective of TheDroneGirl.com.
This past year, the Drone Racing League has been all over the news, from ESPN to Wired. I talked with Ben Johnson, head of communications and a spokesperson for the Drone Racing League. The Drone Racing League is a premier racing league which has secured over $10 million in funding to help bring Drone Racing to the masses.
Chidubem (CJ) Ezinne: How does one become a racer in the Drone Racing League?
The following post is a guest column from Matthew Brown, an engineer, licensed attorney, drone enthusiast, and founder and creator of US Drone Law. The views of guest posters belong to the author and are not necessarily reflective of TheDroneGirl.com.
Is FPV drone racing legal?
The 2016 National Drone Racing Championships on Governors Island are just days away. For the first time, ESPN will bring live drone racing to millions of viewers. Race sponsors include heavy hitting multinational companies such as camera company GoPro, technology company EMC, insurance company AIG, and financial services company Ernst & Young.
Much of the appeal for drone racing comes from the sport’s pod-racing feel. Pilots orient and control their drones remotely by viewing a live video feed from the drone’s cockpit-mounted camera. This unique flight perspective, known as first person view (FPV), provides an exhilarating racing and spectator experience.
One of the keystone rules for drone racing is that “[p]ilots must use FPV to pilot aircraft.” While using first person view, a pilot cannot simultaneously keep the drone in his or her visual line of sight.
Money is pouring into drone startups. According to a report by CB Insights, drone startups raised over $450 million in equity financing across 74 deals in 2015, up a whopping 300 percent over 2014 in terms of dollars.
2015 was the first year where commercial operators were really able to get started by using Section 333 exemptions, and the investment seemed to follow; on a funding basis, investment hit an all-time high in the third quarter, at $140 million.
The funding was led by $75 million in Series B financing by Accel Partners to China-based Dajiang Innovation Technology Co., better known as DJI, the largest consumer drone manufacturer in the world with reported $120 million in net profit in 2014. Close behind was rival Yuneeq with $60 million and 3D Robotics with $50 million.
The money isn’t just going to hardware makers. Between 2012 and mid-2015, according to CB Insights, 42 percent of the funded startups focused on software and services, with 40 percent focusing on hardware. Continue reading AUVSI to talk investing in drones→
PepsiCo’s Mountain Dew has always had a strong presence in sports-related advertising. It’s a brand that targets sports and athletes that represent a certain lifestyle and attitude. It’s a brand synonymous with the extreme.
Now, however, Mountain Dew is pushing past established sports, instead boldly embracing the rising sport of drone racing with the announcement that it will sponsor a one-hour racing special this August. Called the “DR1 Invitational,” this special will air on the Discovery Channel and Science Channel, and will showcase 12 of the world’s best drone racing pilots (with Mountain Dew specifically sponsoring Tommy “UmmaGawd” Tibajia).
Drones have gained popularity worldwide over the last 24 months, with the industry expected to be worth approximately $5.6 billion by 2020, according to a Markets and Markets report. There will be a 32% annual growth, according to the report. Many industries are now looking at leveraging the technology, particularly the gaming sector eyeing the use of drones with the help of mobile devices.
The gaming industry expects plenty of new changes, as innovative platforms and technologies are being launched year-on-year. Apart from drones, we’ve seen how virtual reality (VR) has greatly influenced the sector. Mobile devices have also seen greatly affecting the gaming domain, as even games that were once only available in physical form are now available on digital formats. Board and card games now have apps, while machine games have been now into online games, such as Slingo that can now be accessed via mobile devices and on PCs. Smartphones and tablets have played an important role in drone gaming, too.
And in the drone sector, the world’s first smartphone-controlled gaming drone successfully reached its funding goal last year. Created by German company TobyRich, the Kickstarter project reached €102,003 (about $115,000) in funding due to 587 backers. The drone will be powered by a smartphone with gaming joysticks on the screen. Through its supported free Android or iOS app, gamers will be able to engage in single and multiplayer dogfights, air races and stunts no matter what the setting. It will be able to augment reality through actual camera feeds from the drone, giving users a host of games to tackle. Continue reading Drone Gaming: what to expect→
We’ve all seen or read comparisons of drones like the Phantom 3 vs Phantom 2, arguments for GoPros vs built-in cameras, or the trending uses for drones such as wedding photography. While it’s all very much relevant, environmental uses for drones are becoming more prominent; specifically in farming.
Drones have become more specific to agriculture, coming with various types of sensors for temperature, plant surveillance, even water quality assessments.
The development for these types of drones have advanced, coming out with precision drones specifically for farming. Like their DJI counterparts, these drones will be able to be equipped with different cameras for different sensors.
The idea behind having advanced sensors is that it will give farmers the ability to increase productivity and reduce crop damage. Drones have the ability to see what farmers can’t, and they can do work at a faster rate. It also gives farmers the ability to be specific and pinpoint problems instead of having to treat the entire crop.
However recent updates will have sensors built into the drones themselves. Agricultural specific drones will also have sensors to track and keep stats on livestock, much like the drones being used to help track wildlife and prevent poaching.
Commercial uses for drones in gathering information are still against the rules and regulations, unless you apply for exemptions, and even then the exemptions come with heavy guidelines. Basically, use of these types of drones is no longer ‘illegal’, but gaining an exemption is a hefty process. Unfortunately, this leaves farmers little options for using drones unless they’re approved. It’s asking our agricultural workers to put progress on hold and stay in the past.
Where do you see the future of drones in agriculture and farming going? What are your thoughts on the FAA’s stance on these drones? And how do you think it could improve?