Category Archives: News

Propel’s Star Wars drones are back and better than ever

Propel’s incredible (and collectible!) Star Wars themed drones are back, and they’re better than ever.

To ring in Force Friday, the drone maker has launched a limited edition range of hand-finished, individually numbered battle drones for collectors based on actual aerial vehicles from the Star Wars movies.star wars propel drone tie fighter

The drones are battle drones, meaning not only do they simply fly, but they also are intended for battle combat. They have eye-safe lasers that can be fired at other Star Wars drones. If a drone is hit, it will wobble. If it takes three hits, it will crash land.

Propel has already created a series of Star Wars drones. (Check out my review of Propel’s first version of Star Wars drones in the video below):

But this version is new and improved. Continue reading Propel’s Star Wars drones are back and better than ever

Zipline expands medical drone deliveries from Rwanda to Tanzania

On the heels of news that drone deliveries are coming to Iceland, drone delivery startup Zipline announced that it is expanding to Tanzania.

Beginning in the first quarter of 2018, the Tanzanian government will begin using Zipline’s drones to make up to 2,000 deliveries per day to more than 1,000 health facilities, in a move that could serve 10 million people across the country.

Unlike companies like Flytrex, Flirtey or Amazon which promise speedy deliveries on consumer goods and even hot food, Zipline has focused its delivery efforts on medical deliveries.

In Tanzania, Zipline’s drones will deliver blood transfusion supplies, emergency vaccines, HIV medications, antimalarials and othermedical supplies like sutures and IV tubes, via four distribution centers across the country in the capital of Dodomoa as well as near Mwanza, Lake Victoria and Mbeya.

Image Courtesy Zipline

Each of the four distribution centers will be equipped with up to 30 drones which are capable of carrying about three pounds of cargo. Continue reading Zipline expands medical drone deliveries from Rwanda to Tanzania

Iceland now has a drone delivery service to deliver food via Flytrex

Drone delivery has arrived in Iceland.

Tel Aviv-based brone delivery company Flytrex has partnered with e-commerce site AHA to deliver its products to customers in Iceland, via drone of course. AHA sells everything from consumer products to groceries and even hot food.

Flytrex’s drones are currently flying one route — from the AHA headquarters, across a large bay to a point just outside the Grafarvogur suburb, which is a suburb of Reykjavik, Iceland.  An AHA courier handles the packages between that drop-off point and the customer’s house, filling in the “last mile.”

Courtesy Flytrex

The drone flight isn’t actually that far as the crow flies — just a four minute flight and two mile distance — but a Flytrex spokesperson says it would take a lot longer to get deliveries without a drone.

During peak traffic hours, crossing the water could mean a 25-minute drive.

Currently, drone delivery is available to anyone who places an order with AHA in the Grafarvogur suburb of Iceland, and getting a delivery via drone won’t cost any more than getting it shipped by traditional means. Continue reading Iceland now has a drone delivery service to deliver food via Flytrex

Finally, a drone that can swim AND fly (and it’s doing bridge inspections)

There are flying drones. There are (recently) more swimming drones. And finally, there’s a drone that can do both — in the same flight.

The Applied Fluids Lab at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, under the direction of Professor F. Javier Diez, developed a drone called the Naviator. It’s a submersible drone, meaning it is part submarine, part aircraft, and completely agile under water and in the air. The Naviator is funded by a grant from the Office of Naval Research, and it has been inthe public eye as a prototype as early as 2015.

rutgers naviator underwater drone

The drone appears much like a traditional quad copter, though it has four arms with a propeller on the top and bottom of each arm, meaning it actually has eight propellers.

Watch it in action here: Continue reading Finally, a drone that can swim AND fly (and it’s doing bridge inspections)

DJI follows up U.S. Army drone ban with new stealth mode

Weeks after the U.S. Army announced that it would discontinue use of DJI drones due to “cyber vulnerabilities,” DJI launched a new stealth mode.

DJI this week announced the introduction of “local data mode,” which stops internet traffic to and from its flight control apps, in order to provide enhanced data privacy assurances for sensitive government and enterprise customers.

Earlier this month, news came out that the U.S. Army prohibited its troops from using DJI drones because of cyber-security concerns, according to a U.S. Army memo first obtained by sUAS news.

DJI said in a news release that local data mode has been in development for months. Continue reading DJI follows up U.S. Army drone ban with new stealth mode

4 new commercial drones (and drone products) debuting this fall

As drone conference season starts to pick up, it’s also time for a wave of new products to be announced.

While the drone industry can expect to get plenty of new commercial drones this year, many of this year’s announcements are not drones, as entrepreneurs and investors realize it’s difficult to compete with DJI, which has an estimated 70% market share.

But while the drone industry may be seeing fewer new drones being built, hardware is not dead. Instead, the hardware makers in the drone industry are turning their attention away from the drones instead and to different types of hardware. From different cameras to ways of improving GPS, commercial drone manufacturers are continuing to move away from building their own drones and instead looking for ways to improve DJI’s products.

Most of the drones mentioned below will make their public debut at Interdrone 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Here are 4 new products you need to know about:FlightWave Edge UAS

1. FlightWave Edge

Santa Monica, Calif.-based startup FlightWave Aerospace Systems today launched its FlightWave Edge drone, a long-range drone targeted at mapping, remote patrol and surveillance, and ecosystem monitoring customers. The drone, which has an open source payload development kit, is standout for its ability to transform from tri-copter to forward flight — meaning it has vertical takeoff and landing but is a hybrid drone, able to fly like a fixed wing drone as well.

FlightWave has a whopping two hours of continuous flight time. While it’s an electric drone, it leverages solar power for increased range and endurance. The drone also has a swappable, twist-lock payload pay to accommodate a variety of payloads.

The airframe itself, including detachable wings, touch screen LCD controller, batteries, front and rear propellers, and weatherproof case retails for $10,000. The system is then customized with your payloads. Payloads range in price from $2000 for a color mapping camera, to $7000 for a thermal plus color mapping array, to $12,000 for a gimbal stabilized color and thermal camera.

Bonus points: the drone claims to be moisture resistant and has been fully tested flying in the rain. The company anticipates making a full waterproof drone, capable of submerging up to 1 meter deep, by the end of 2018. Continue reading 4 new commercial drones (and drone products) debuting this fall

Yuneec steps up warranty program with unlimited manufacturer defect repairs.

Yuneec may not be the largest drone manufacturer in the world, but the maker of the Typhoon drone has long been known as the winning drone company when it comes to customer service.

And now, it’s raising the stakes with a new customer service program.

Yuneec this week announced its Yuneec Extended Service (and yes, the company is referring to it with the acronym “YES!”) plan.

The plan will cover unlimited manufacturer defect repairs.  The key there is “manufacturer defect” which means if you fly your drone into the lake, you’re probably not covered.

But, the warranty will cover other manufacturer defects, such as electronics problems or software issues, such as a flyaway.

All Yuneec customers get a standard one-year warranty, but the YES! extended warranty plan extends that out an additional year. Continue reading Yuneec steps up warranty program with unlimited manufacturer defect repairs.

DJI announces new leadership, appointing Roger Luo as president

DJI is changing up its leadership chain.

The world’s largest drone maker, DJI, this week announced that Roger Luo has been named president of DJI. Luo has been with the company since 2015, having previously served as the Vice President of Operations where he oversaw procurement, production and logistics.

Luo has previously worked at Apple, Foxconn and Siemens, and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering from National Taiwan University and a Master’s Degree in Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University, California.

Luo’s role “will focus on developing DJI’s business internationally,” according to a news release from DJI.

“The move will also enable us to gain a deeper understanding of our growing customer base and build stronger relationships with our dealers and partners,” said DJI founder and CEO Frank Wang in a prepared statement.

Wang will continue as CEO, where he will oversee DJI’s product development, according to the news release.

Wang has historically been more hands-on in developing DJI’s products, while steering clear of the more public-facing, business-focused roles that some CEOs take on. In the past, Wang has declined interviews with journalists, citing a preference for spending time working on products. It’s likely that the move will allow Wang to continue to focus more on engineering while allowing someone else to take more of a front-facing role in the company.

DJI now has more than 11,000 staff members and offices in 17 cities. The company has a predicted 70% market share.

The company rose to popularity with its iconic Phantom drone. In 2016, the company found a hit with its more portable Mavic drone, and this year the company launched a new, smaller and lower cost drone, the Spark.