Next up in our “Ask Drone Girl” series is about drone manufacturing. If you have a question for Drone Girl, contact her here.
Do you think we will see Drones manufactured in the U.S.? There are many fine products on the market at this time but of course we feel a loyalty to our country! I own 5 drones so far !
You bring up a very interesting point. While I would also love to buy American-made products to support U.S. businesses, the reality is, most of the drones in the world are not made in the U.S.
There have been a number of attempts at U.S. manufactured drones, but none have succeeded. “Solo” drone maker 3D Robotics was based in Berkeley, Calif, with a large office in San Diego, Calif. (its main manufacturing plant was just across the border in Tijuana, Mexico) but it has since transitioned away from manufacturing commercial drones after laying off a number of staff. San Mateo, Calif.-based GoPro also laid off employees after recalling its Karma drone because they were falling from the sky. Though, the Karma drone is back on the market. In January, the makers of San Francisco-based Lily, a widely-hyped drone that never actually made it to market, announced they were calling it quits and would refund those who made pre-orders.
The major companies that are left — DJI, Yuneec and Autel — are all Chinese companies, and many of the smaller drone companies are also mostly based outside of the U.S.
As thermal sensors become smaller, lighter, less expensive and more widely available on drones, more commercial drone applications are integrating aerial thermography.
Drones with thermal cameras are being used for inspecting HVAC units, wind turbines, cell towers, roofs, or finding missing people. And more drone companies are making it easy to incorporate thermal imaging in drones.
At the Consumer Electronics Show 2017, Autel announced a new camera for its X-Star, a FLIR Duo dual thermal and visual camera module, which can show thermal and standard, visual light images. It allows 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, and will launch in the first quarter of 2017.
Yuneec also announced its H520, a six-rotor drone for commercial applications. One of its camera options is the CGO-ET dual thermal RGB camera.
But what are clients looking for in terms of data gathering? How do you handle post-processing of data? How can you build an aerial thermal imaging business? UAV Coach, which has had tremendous success in its FAA Part 107 course (I used it, and passed my own Part 107!), is now launching a course on Aerial Thermal Imaging for Drone Pilots.
The course primarily uses DJI products (ZenMuse XT Thermal Sensor and DJI Inspire) though of course there are plenty of other aircraft and sensor configurations. (The DJI Inspire and ZenMuse XT are widely used to capture accurate thermal data relatively easily and are representative of the capabilities of the majority of aerial thermography systems.)
It’s CES 2017 this week, and that means my inbox is full of new drone products being announced!
A lot of it is good stuff — stay tuned for some really exciting news later this week. But a lot of it is downright ridiculous — or worse — pitches itself as something it is not.
Keyshare Technology today announced the launch of their Kimon “selfie” drone in the US market. Its camera supports 4k/25fps video recording and at a price point of $399, seems reasonable for a consumer product. I look forward to reviewing it.
But here’s the sticking point: it calls itself “the first successful mass market selfie drone,” according to the press release screenshotted below.
When it comes to fires, smoldering logs and debris can create hot spots and reignite fires. Now, firefighters are using drones to find smoldering hot spots.
Last month, a fire in western North Carolina raged out of control, sending 7,100 acres of forest up in smoke. After firefighters successfully battled to control the wildfire, a team of drone pilots stepped in.
Drone pilots from Go Unmanned took a Matrice 600 with a Flir XT infrared camera and overflew the entire area, noticing many smoldering points remained in the burned out area. (The image below shows how an entire hillside looked like when it was lit with campfires in the “White-Hot” color schema, one of several color options offered by the Zenmuse XT).
The little white spots on the forested hillside in this photo are all areas of significant increased heat, most of them left over smoldering debris. For firefighters, it was surprising to see this many problem areas left over after the fire, pilots at Go Unmanned said.
Amazon.com on Wednesday announced that it had made its first drone delivery to a customer.
The drone flight delivered a 4.7 pound package, taking 13 minutes to cover about 2 miles, flying from an Amazon warehouse over the English countryside to a landing pad placed in a customer’s yard. The story is all told in a neatly packaged video produced by Amazon that shows the warehouse and a man ordering the package, then walking out to his yard to receive it from a landing pad. Inside? A Fire TV and a bag of popcorn.
DJI released “The Circle,” a 14-minute short film starring Ryan Phillippe and Noah Schnapp (Will Byers from Stranger Things) as an estranged father and son (respectively) in Depression-era America.
The Circle was shot entirely on the Inspire 2, using the drone’s X5R camera for every shot in the film. It was created by Academy Award-winning cinematographer Claudio Miranda, known for his work on “Life of Pi,” “Oblivion,” and “Tron.”
“The advantage is obvious on smaller projects when you can’t afford cranes and all of the technicians that come along with it,” said Executive Producer Dana Brunetti.
2016 saw plenty of developments in the drone industry — sense and avoid in consumer-level drones, better cameras for a lower price, and all around crazy low prices for drones.
Because of that, drones are easier than ever to access, which also means that the standards for drone photography and videography are higher. It’s not enough to send a drone in the air and get a cool shot just because it’s an aerial shot.
Now films need to have some type of story — and incredible aerial visuals.
This year’s Flying Robot international Drone Film Festival showcased exactly that. The 2nd annual FRiFFest in San Francisco, happened earlier this month at the Roxie Theater in the city’s Mission District. The festival received 180 submissions from 40 countries. Across 8 categories, 25 films were showcased at the festival.
I thought The Drone, which one best cinematic narrative, was absolutely brilliant and hilarious. Moon Line, which won in multiple categories, had me wondering the whole time, ‘how’d they do that?’
For some inspiration for your own drone videography, check out these winners (and for those of you who couldn’t watch the show in-person, you can watch all the winning videos below too):
Best in Show: Moon Line, Frédéric Rousseau [France]
Cinematic Narrative: The Drone, Jordan Rubin [USA]