So you want to log all your drone flights? Good on you!
Here’s the next drone purchase you’ll need to make (that won’t cost an arm and a leg). It’s not some fancy gadget either. It’s a ‘drone logbook,’ and it comes in the form of free smart phone app or tangible notebook.
Why should you log your flights?
It’s a place to store important information — what drone you were using, flight type, location and maintenance concerns.
And if you are flying drones commercially, in the U.S. and many other countries, it’s the law. Commercial operators who have 333 exemptions and “blanket” COAs (Certificate of Waiver or Authorization) are required to file reports with the Federal Aviation Administration
And if — like me — you aren’t a commercial drone operator, it’s just sort of fun to see where you have flown, for how long, and document everything that happened for each flight.
Out of 330 submissions from 45 countries, the nominees have been whittled down to include Cirque du Soleil’s Sparked, National Geographic’s Lava Chaser, Corridor Digital’s The Smallest Empire, Jordan Rubin’s The Drone and the NBC News coverage of the Nepal Earthquake.
“The quantity and quality of this year’s submissions is outstanding,” said festival founder and director Randy Scott Slavin.
The judges will include Renee Lusano, Eric Cheng and Yahoo Tech founder David Pogue, presenting awards in 14 categories including Best Narrative Film, Best News/Documentary Film, Best Extreme Sports Film and Best Dronie, a selfie taken with a drone.
DJI, Ford and the United Nations Development Program recognize how vital drones are to disaster relief. That’s why the three are partnering up to produce the 2016 DJI Developer Challenge — a call for the public to build a robust application system for search and rescue drones. The award for the most successful application? $100,000.
So what do winners need to do? Devise a way to launch a drone from the bed of an F-150 pickup truck, survey the landscape and communicate in real-time using Sync data available.
The second round will be whittled down to 15 teams, which will be provided with DJI’s flagship SDK aerial platform, the Matrice 100, as well as a Zenmuse X3 camera to mount on the Matrice.
This is the third year that DJI has hosted a developer challenge of this nature. This year the focus is on the new Mobile SDK 3.0, an open, flexible software platform. Five teams will be cut, with 10 in the final round, which will require teams to use their app to perform a mock search-and-rescue mission, taking off and landing on a moving Ford F-150 pickup truck and transmitting the data collected.
“Various industries are starting to realize how capable and powerful unmanned aerial vehicles can be,” said Robert Schlub, Vice President of Research and Development at DJI. “As usage cases arise, there will be a growing need for applications. With our developer challenge and new SDK, DJI is doing its utmost to foster an environment that’s conducive to development and creation of those applications.”
The winner of last year’s challenge was UT-Dronefly from the University of Texas at Dallas and Penn State University, whose app was designed to conduct powerline inspection in a safer and more-efficient way. In 2014, the first year of the DJI Developer Challenge, Team BetterW from the South China University of Technology developed a forensics app specifically designed for highway accident investigations.
In the not-too-distant future, when Cinderella looks out her castle window she may spot a drone flying by.
The Walt Disney Co. has taken the next step in integrating drones into its fireworks shows at Disneyland and Walt Disney World: it has applied to the Federal Aviation Administration for what’s called a Section 333 exemption, which allows a company to legally operate drones commercially. Currently, it is otherwise illegal to operate a drone for commercial purposes, though that’s expected to change in 2016.
The drones would fly preprogrammed flight paths and emit LED lights at various intervals, lighting up the sky. Up to 50 drones at one time might be used for nightly firework shows, according to details included in the Section 333 exemption request.
The International Consumer Electronics Show in 2015 may have been the year of the drones, but this year the drone industry is only getting bigger.
CES in 2015 was about the funky accessories (including a parachute for drones) and quirky aesthetics (like a wearable bracelet drone released by Intel called “Nixie”). But this year, the drones are all about efficiency, from longer flight times to lower price tags — an indication that the technology is only just now taking off.
Drones are huge at the Consumer Electronics Show this year — there’s an entire section dedicated to more than a dozen exhibits from drone makers and others getting into the drone game. But the most important announcement to come out of the show so far isn’t a drone. It’s a chip.
Chip maker Ambarella, Inc. today introduced the H2 and H12 camera chips, intended to allow drones to capture more powerful video than ever. The new chips mean that the next generation of drones will be able to function much better in low-light or high-contrast situations, and will produce much smoother video. They potentially eliminate the need for mechanical gimbals, pivoted support systems that can be costly and cumbersome on drones, but have so far been necessary for anyone looking to shoot high-quality, smooth footage.
That may not sound particularly sexy, but the chips are our first clue into what drones in 2017 and beyond might be capable of doing.
The H2 chip targets high-end camera models, while the H12 targets mainstream cameras.
DJI’s announcement for CES this year: the Phantom 3 4K and the Inspire 1 Pro Black Edition.
The $799 Phantom 3 4K comes with an integrated, gimbal-stabilized 4K camera and has remote-control buttons for playback, video recording and camera shutter. Instead of DJI’s Lightbridge video-transmission system, the Phantom 3 4K uses built-in WiFi to transmit the video downlink and on-screen data. The drone’s WiFi video downlink is effective up to a distance of 1.2 km and will stay aloft for 25 minutes on a full battery charge.
The Inspire 1 news is simply cosmetic. The Inspire 1 Pro Black Edition comes with a black controller, battery and a shell with a matte finish. It also comes with DJI’s Micro Four Thirds camera, the Zenmuse X5. The original Inspire 1 Pro, with a white shell, battery case and controller, will continue to be sold alongside the new model. The Inspire 1 Pro Black Edition is expected to sell for around $4,799.