Category Archives: News

A bunch of people are illegally flying drones around the PGA Tour right now

Want to get  that sweet drone shot of a golf ball flying through the air, or that cool aerial photo of all the holes in a pristine golf course?

If you were planning on making those shots happen during this year’s PGA tour, don’t. Odds are, unless you have permission from the FAA then it’s illegal.

The PGA Tour is happening this weekend at the TPC Scottsdale – Stadium Course, and drones already seem to be posing a problem.

Dozens of drones have been spotted flying illegally already over the past few days — and the main event hasn’t even started yet. More than 250,000 attendees are expected to attend the PGA tour’s main event day on Saturday.

That’s according to drone detection company Dedrone, which is being deployed to look for risky drones throughout the weekend.

Last Sunday alone, Dedrone detected about three dozen “drone intrusions” in the PGA Tour area, which means a single drone entering the specified protected airspace multiple times or multiple drones on a single occasion.

Here’s Dedrone’s count of incidents in the Scottsdale area, ahead of the PGA Tour.

The PGA tour is being held at the TPC Scottsdale-Stadium Course, which is not far from the Scottsdale Airport. Commercial operators cannot legally fly within five miles of an airport without permission, and recreational operators are advised to give notice for flights in that area, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Beyond just flying in restricted airspace, drones taking videos of the event may actually risk violating not just FAA rules, but copyright and IP laws. If the drone is streaming video of the PGA Tour, that actually may violate the broadcasting rights of NBC and The Golf Channel, according to a Dedrone spokesperson.

Dedrone says it can track the specific drone, the time it’s in the air, and how many times it’s visited the site. The San Francisco-based drone startup also claims it can distinguish between a whitelisted drone (like if the police department were to do their own surveillance) vs unauthorized drones.

dedrone rf sensor PGA Tour scottsdale
An RF sensor sits on a pole in Scottsdale to detect drones flying near the PGA Tour. Image courtesy of Dedrone

Dedrone uses sensors, including RF/WiFi scanners, microphones and cameras to collect data and determine whether or not a drone is in a certain area, as well as analyze its flight path and the type of drone.

A big DJI product launch is coming on Tuesday

If you’ve been hankering for something new from DJI, you’re in luck. The dronemaker that sprung to fame with its Phantom line of drones has another product launch coming on Tuesday.

The Chinese dronemaker revealed a video promoting a new product launch earlier this week with the caption, “Your next great journey begins at 10 am EST on Jan 23, 2018.”

The announcement comes on the heels of CES in Las Vegas, Nevada, the largest consumer electronics show in the U.S. DJI was pretty quiet at CES, aside from a few small announcements such as the new Ronin-S which is like an Osmo for DSLR and mirrorless cameras, and — if you can count this as a DJI announcement — the launch of the new Tello drone, a $99 toy drone made by a Chinese startup called Ryze Tech that is intended to teach kids how to code and fly.

You can watch DJI’s upcoming announcement next week at DJI’s Live site, or stay tuned to Drone Girl. You can guarantee we’ll be all over it.

Lily drone maker Mota wants to create blockchain for drones

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

Not even the drone industry is immune to the blockchain craze.

Mota, the company that purchased the rights to manufacture the Lily drone, says it has been experimenting with blockchain technology for drones. Mota Chief Executive Michael Faro said in an interview Monday that he envisions a future where blockchain could decentralize the system for tracking drones, while providing greater transparency as to the whereabouts of drone flights.

“Think of when we have hundreds of thousands of drones flying in one area at a time,” Faro said. “That’s hundreds of thousands of eyes in the sky. No centralized place should have a monopoly over such data.”

Faro said blockchain data could make information on where drones are flying and who is operating them available to the public worldwide.

“If there is a crash, all that data should be auditable,” Faro said. Continue reading Lily drone maker Mota wants to create blockchain for drones

The new Airlango Mystic drone looks like a Mavic — without adding anything new

Unless you’re DJI, it seems innovating in the drone industry is a tough task.

With the close of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week came a slew of new drone announcements. Autel’s Evo drone looked eerily like the DJI Mavic, though it did have what looked like could be improvements.

And another drone to attempt to make a big splash at CES, without adding a whole lot? The Mystic, by a company new to the drone industry called Airlango.

It “comes with a range of innovative features – including the ability to recognize and follow its owner, and obey hand-gesture commands from the ground,” according to a news release issued by the company.

Of course, plenty of drones, including DJI’s Spark, already do that.

Mystic’s capabilities include an autonomous follow-me feature and a gesture interaction mode that can perform tasks based on your gestures. The marketing material also  points out an owner recognition mode, through which the drone can automatically recognize its owner.

The Mystic drone is made by Beijing-based company Airlango, which was founded in 2015.

Pricing details and a launch date for the Airlango Mystic have yet  to be announced.

So will the Mystic, or other drones like the Autel Evo have a chance to create some competition against DJI? If history is your guide, then likely not.

DJI has crushed the consumer drone industry, and even big players like GoPro have failed to keep up.

“Drone hardware development is very difficult and resource-intensive,” Autel Robotics USA CEO Steve McIrvin said last year (he has since left the company after the North American division went through a series of layoffs. “You have to be on the cutting edge of so many different fields—cameras, computer vision, deep learning, artificial intelligence—all highly technical fields.”

Should you really be worried about drone sightings? Here’s what you need to know about that report

One of the biggest fears holding drones back from widespread adoption is fear of drones crashing — and interfering with manned aircraft.

A recent report from the Federal Aviation Administration stated that 3,714 drone sightings were reported between November 2015 and March 2017. The FAA closely tracks reported drone sightings, which could potentially lead to interference with a manned aircraft.

So how worried should you really be about all those drone sightings?

The Unmanned Aircraft Safety Team (UAST) Drone Sightings Working Group,  which is an industry-government partnership group co-chaired by Ben Marcus, Co-founder & CEO of AirMap, and Earl Lawrence,  of the FAA’s UAS Integration Office, found out. The team released a new analysis on the FAA’s report

And it turns out, 3.19% of drone sightings were potentially dangerous enough to manned aircraft that it caused the aircraft to reroute. Continue reading Should you really be worried about drone sightings? Here’s what you need to know about that report

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.