Category Archives: News

DJI gaining greater monopoly in thermal imaging market for drones

MW-EA914_inspir_20151209204421_ZHThis is an excerpt of a piece originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the whole story here.

Drone powerhouse DJI looks set to dominate another drone sector in the commercial market, thermal imaging.

Chinese drone manufacturer DJI on Thursday announced a collaboration with Flir Systems Inc.FLIR, -0.61%   an Oregon-based sensor manufacturer that focuses on thermal imaging. The two companies are building their first joint product called the Zenmuse XT.

Thermal imaging for drones is particularly useful for search and rescue, fire-fighting and agricultural purposes. A thermal-camera-equipped drone flying over the forest that picks up on a hot spot could indicate a person on the ground. Thermal cameras flying over a burning building that show a cool spot could indicate a safer entry point for firefighters. And farmers use thermal imaging as they fly over fields to indicate dry spots or over-watering.

The Zenmuse XT will be released in the first quarter of 2016 and will allow users to collect aerial images while in complete darkness and measure temperature.

Read more here.

6 common misconceptions about Amazon drones, debunked

MW-EA279_amazon_20151201174438_ZHThis is an excerpt of a piece originally written for Marketwatch.com. Read the entire story here.

Here are the 6 most common myths about Amazon drones, and why they aren’t true.

1. Amazon drones can’t carry heavy packages, so what’s the point?

Amazon drones are currently advertised as being able to carry packages up to five pounds, so it’s true that the current drones being tested can’t carry much weight.

But 86% of the items that Amazon delivers weigh less than five pounds, Jeff Bezos said in a 2013 interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”.

Drone delivery has never been touted as the service to deliver a television or a piece of furniture; instead it’s being thought of as the “anti-Costco” — a service to bring you individual items that you might need right away. The package being delivered in the Amazon video is exactly that: a pair of soccer shoes.

2. Drones are targets for thieves.

Could thieves steal packages delivered by drone right off your front porch? Yes. They could also steal packages delivered by truck right off your front porch.

Package theft is surely a problem for drones, but it’s not a problem unique to drones. A whopping 23 million Americans alive today have had packages stolen from their doorsteps in their lifetime, according to insuranceQuotes.com. But package theft is common enough today that retailers factor the cost of replacing those goods into the purchase price.

Read the entire story here.

2 reasons why I’m a big fan of DJI’s next steps in geofencing

A drone is flown for recreational purposes in the sky above Old Bethpage, New York on September 5, 2015.

DJI this week announced new plans to expand the list of its restricted flight locations to include places like prisons and power plants.

The software update is an expansion of its geofencing program, a virtual barrier which literally prohibits the drone from taking off or flying into areas in its geofence. DJI already uses geofencing in “no-fly-zones,” which are mostly airports and Washington, D.C.

Think that just sounds like more limitations for drone pilots? It’s not. I outline the two reasons why everyone should applaud DJI’s move in my latest post over at Drone Coalition.  Check it out here.

 

DJI’s latest move to limit flying over sensitive areas

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

The world’s largest drone maker, DJI, is rolling out a software update to its drones designed to limit flying over sensitive areas like prisons and airports.

The drone company currently uses geofencing, a software feature that acts as a virtual barrier, to completely prevent its drones from flying over “no-fly-zones,” which are mostly airports and Washington, D.C.

The update, which will come with new DJI drones later this year or as a software update to existing drones, expands the list of restricted flight locations to include prisons and power plants. There have been many reported incidents of drones dropping drugs over prison yards.

But some users may need access to fly over restricted locations, such as drone flight instructors who train their students at airports, or firefighters using a drone to see over a burning building.

So DJI is also allowing certain users to unlock the geofence.

A new system will provide temporary access to restricted flight zones to drone operators with verified DJI accounts registered with a credit card, debit card or mobile phone number.

Read the rest of this story here.

The drone laser dance party that is actually pioneering some incredibly important technology

Watching PRENAV’s drones in action resembles something of a laser dance party.

At least, if your first intro to them is their award-winning video “Hello World.” Out of 153 total submissions to the Flying Robot International Film Festival, the San Francisco Bay Area-based startup PRENAV’s video on their work took home the top prize in the festival’s “LOL WTF” category.

But the video means a lot more than just, “WTF.” It’s a literal and creative representation of how precise autonomous drone flight can be. Continue reading The drone laser dance party that is actually pioneering some incredibly important technology

Dance, nature and humanitarian work: tech and art collide in drone film festival

In San Francisco, a once beacon of art — and now beacon of technology — the two fields have come together at the Flying Robot International Film Festival.

Thursday night’s film festival at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco’s Mission district showcased the best of the best videos. 153 videos were submitted to the festival, and 20 were selected for the final showcase.

These aren’t the thousands of 5 minute videos of someone’s backyard that you’ve seen too many of on YouTube. The entries screened at the festival were the best out there in both production and creativity.

The winner of the Cinematic Category, “Running Into the Air” is a scenic tour of Switzerland, but it’s set apart by a clever opening scene of what looks like someone running to take off for a flight over the country.   And the audience laughed hysterically at Bart Jansen’s cat copter, the video that made waves across the Internet after Bart Jansen turned his dead cat Orville into a taxidermy drone. That was, until the ostrich-copter came out, and the audience erupted.

The film festival showcased technological advancements too. Bay Area drone startup PRENAV showed precision technology in a video of laser party drones that spell out “Hello World.” Continue reading Dance, nature and humanitarian work: tech and art collide in drone film festival

First look at Parrot’s Bebop 2

Parrot today announced an update to its Bebop drone, the Bebop 2.

The $549 drone offers improvements to its predecessor, such as an improved 25-minute flight time over the original Bebop’s 15-minute flights.

Read more: my review of the original Parrot Bebop

The flight controllers also are faster and more precise, more stable in the wind, and come with better sensing and GPS.

“We try to make it as useful as a cellphone,” said Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux, who also is known as cofounder of the iconic red-soled designer shoe company, Christian Louboutin. “We try to put all the ideas you would find on a smartphone today, and we put that into a drone.”

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The drone itself is controlled by a smartphone (or tablet). Though, like the original Bebop, Parrot’s Bebop 2 does offer a Skycontroller (thoughts on that here).

With the expansion of the Bebop lineup, Parrot is positioning itself in a market of people looking for products cheaper than a DJI Phantom, but better quality than a toy. Five years ago, Parrot was the first to introduce a “real, ready-to-fly” drone to the consumer market with its $299 AR.Drone.

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It’s strength lies in its friendliness. The Bebop, which weighs in at about 1.1 pounds (half the weight of a Phantom) has charming rounded edges and almost soft propellers that likely would not cut Enrique Iglesias’ fingers should he try to grab it.

“We try to make it as non dangerous as possible,” Seydoux said. “It’s more safe than the competition because the drone’s safety (should it hit something) is linked to the weight.”

The drone has no gimbal and instead stabilizes video using its optical flow sensor technology.

The drone is expected to ship in time for Christmas.