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17 low-cost holiday gift ideas for the drone fan in your life

The following guest post was submitted by my friends over at AirVuz.

Do you have a friend or loved one who’s looking for a drone or some drone accessories under the Christmas tree this year, or stuffed into their stocking?

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), more than 2.5 million drones are in our skies today, with an estimated 7 million drones in the air by 2020. Clearly, whether for fun or for commercial use, drones are becoming a regular fixture in our day-to-day lives.

So, if you’re looking for gift ideas for the drone enthusiast in your life, AirVūz, the world’s largest online community for drone videos and photography, has created the ultimate holiday gift ideas list. From small items to entry-level drones, the list offers a wide range of gift ideas to fit just about any budget.

dji mavic pro review drone girlStocking Stuffers ($5-$10 + small items)

●      Spare drone props (DJI Phantom 4DJI Mavic), $8 – for a pilot who already has a Phantom or Mavic drone but could always use some extra props.

●      Battery straps for FPV racing drone, – the perfect gift for the first-person view (FPV) pilot who loves drone racing.

Drone Gift Ideas Under $25

●      AirVuz shirts and hats, $20-$25 – with more than 1.25 million content creators and fans, AirVūz is the world’s most popular online community for drone enthusiasts. Time to join the fun.

●      1-year subscription (6 issues) to Rotor Drone Magazine, $19.99 – for those who want to read up on the latest drone products and news.

●      The flying Santa Claus drone, $24.99 – the perfect gift for people of all ages who love Santa and drones.

Drone Gift Ideas Under $50 Continue reading 17 low-cost holiday gift ideas for the drone fan in your life

Black Friday drone deals: your ultimate guide to deals at DJI, B&H and more

Is a drone on your Christmas list this year? Black Friday is offering LOADS of drone deals this year through stores including DJI and B&H Photo Video. You’ll save $100 on the wildly popular DJI Spark, more than $100 on my favorite pick, the DJI Mavic Pro, and you could even walk away with free extras like batteries, memory cards, landing pads and more.

Here are some of the deals you need to know about, sorted by drone, and then broken down by where to buy it:

DJI Mavic Pro vs. Spark: which is better?

Black Friday drone deals: DJI Spark

The DJI Spark is DJI’s smallest drone and perhaps its smartest, able to lift off from the palm of your hand and make a decision of where to fly based on your body movements. The drone is so wildly popular, it was even named one of Time Magazine’s 25 Best Inventions of 2017. The drone typically retails for $499, but it’s way cheaper if you buy it on Black Friday. Continue reading Black Friday drone deals: your ultimate guide to deals at DJI, B&H and more

Drones for real estate: here’s your getting started course

You’ve got the real estate license — now you want to get into drones too?

The Drone Trainer has launched a drone training course specifically for real estate agents, real estate photographers or existing drone pilots who want to break into the real estate industry to shoot aerial images and videos of homes and commercial spaces.

The Drone Trainer’s real estate course goes through important topics like site surveying, outbuildings, data management, clip selection and video editing topics like color correction and cutting.

*Note that to operate a drone for commercial purposes, you’ll need a Part 107 license. Here’s my guide to taking and passing the Part 107 course. Continue reading Drones for real estate: here’s your getting started course

What qualities to look for when buying a toy drone

Buying a low-cost, toy drone is going to be a different animal than shopping for a fancy camera drone.

When sorting through product descriptions, it’s easy to be fooled by words like “HD video” or “easy to fly” — essentially meaningless terms. HD (high definition) can be meaningless if the camera is only one megapixel, and easy to fly — well that’s relative.

Buying a drone from an established company like DJI guarantees high quality video and a relatively easy flight experience. But when you are spending less than $200 on a drone, you lose that guarantee.

Here are the things you should look for when purchasing a toy drone from an unknown manufacturer, according to Best Drones For Kids: Continue reading What qualities to look for when buying a toy drone

What’s more environmentally friendly: drone delivery or truck delivery?

With all the hype around the impending era of drone delivery, the industry is grappling with questions like air traffic management, pickup and drop-off locations, and security.  There’s the debate over whether drones are more or less cost efficient than traditional postal trucks.

But one of the questions that the industry has only scratched the surface on: are drones more environmentally friendly than parcel delivery trucks?

The short answer is: sometimes. And here’s the long answer:

On the surface, drones create less carbon pollution than trucks. Most drones are battery powered, and can be recharged through green energy sources like solar power. There is no gasoline involved or exhaust produce from delivery trucks.

But delivery trucks can also offer a massive amount of packages in one trip, while a drone can only transport small payloads at a time.

Moving ALL Amazon deliveries to drones would be the equivalent of running approximately 3-5x as many vans on the road, according to iniLabs CEO Kynan Eng. But most delivery companies are pushing drones for either “last-mile deliveries” or for extremely lightweight deliveries.

Impact of drones vs. trucks on carbon pollution


UW civil and environmental engineering graduate student Jordan Toy analyzed various real world scenarios to estimate carbon dioxide emissions for a paper published in Transportation Research Part D.

Toy created a heat map to show carbon dioxide emission differences between drone and truck deliveries as a drone’s energy requirements, which are measured in watt-hours per mile and the number of stops on a route increase. Red areas reflect conditions in which drones emit less carbon dioxide than trucks (lighter packages, fewer stops), while blue areas denote conditions in which drones emit more (heavier packages, more stops).

In a nutshell, small, light packages are very environmentally friendly from a carbon emissions standpoint when delivered by drones, but once the delivery route adds more stops or runs farther out from the warehouse, it becomes less environmentally friendly.

Impact of drones on wildlife

But it’s not all about carbon pollution. There are other environmental factors at stake.

A 2015 study on black bears in Minnesota found that bears’ heart rates went up significantly when it was near a drone, despite not visibly acting bothered.

In one case, a drone flying overhead caused a bear’s heart rate to spike 400% from 39 to 162 beats a minute, said University of Minnesota’s Mark Ditmer . That’s well above the heart-beat jump experienced by people riding a double-corkscrew roller coaster, according to National Geographic.

Not to mention, drones have been known to agitate birds.

That being said, cars aren’t exactly friendly to animals. An estimated 1.25 million insurance claims are filed annually due to vehicle collisions with large animals, while building roads can cause habitat destruction or fragmentation.

It seems the consensus is that drone delivery could be useful for last-mile deliveries, helping a central warehouse get items out in 30 minutes or less to customers who live in the same city.

Or as Eng puts it: “Under certain circumstances, if one insists on drone delivery it may be most efficient to have a giant drone carrier hovering constantly above a city, similar to that seen in the Avengers movie franchise. Or not.”


3 underwater drones that are taking the drone industry to new depths

Thought drones were just for flying? These drones “fly,” but only underwater.

Ready-to-use out of the box, underwater drones are the latest trend to come out of the robotics community.  Instead of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), these drones are typically referred to as ROVs, which stands for remotely operated underwater vehicles.

These underwater drones are typically tethered (to keep them from swimming too far away from you as well as to transmit data) to your boat or somewhere (or someone on land). The drones have cameras, making them excellent tools for underwater photographers, people who need to inspect structures underwater, scientific researchers, and even tour boat companies that want to show guests the world beneath the boat.

Most of these drones operate like the consumer-level drones you’ll see on the market today, where it is controlled with an RC controller. Much like how the left stick controls altitude on an aerial drone, the left stick controls the depth of the drone in the water. The right stick controls the direction that the drone swims. A mobile app allows you to livestream what the drone sees directly through your smartphone or tablet.

Here are three underwater drones you need to know about, sorted by price — all of which cost $3,000 or less including camera:powerray powervision

  1. PowerRay by PowerVision:  The PowerRay drone, which starts at $1,488, can go as deep as about 100 feet underwater. The sonar system can detect objects up to an additional 130 meters below the robot, allowing users to detect objects up to about 230 feet below the surface. A cord attached to the drone prevents the drone from swimming off if the pilot loses control, and it can last about 4 hours on one charge. The PowerRay drone is the sister product of PowerVision’s aerial drone — the PowerEgg — which is (you guessed it) a flying drone in the shape of an egg. Continue reading 3 underwater drones that are taking the drone industry to new depths

Thought one drone was enough? Here’s what it takes to put dozens of them in the air

The following is an excerpt of a story originally written for Read the entire story here.

In an era where it seems that some pilots can barely control one drone, some companies want to operate dozens or even hundreds at a time.

Companies like Intel Alphabet’s Project Wing, Qualcomm and Disney are working on technology to make it possible for dozens and even hundreds of drones to fly together, operated by a single person. The drone industry calls them “swarm drones,” and you might have seen them operating in fireworks-style shows at Coachella or Walt Disney World, where hundreds of Intel drones flew over the skies of the famous entertainment spot. They most famously performed behind Lady Gaga in the Super Bowl.

You may have thought Intel’s drones flew over the Super Bowl. But due to complicated technological and legal hurdles, they were actually just superimposed on your TV.

But those drones weren’t actually performing behind Lady Gaga. The entire segment where drones created shapes of the American flag and Pepsi logos was actually prerecorded and superimposed on television so the drones wouldn’t have to do complex maneuvers over thousands of people in the stands and nearby.

That is the big issue for swarm drones, which could make specific tasks—including data gathering and delivery—more efficient, but are causing a legal and technical headache.

100 Intel drones fly at night as part of an outdoor flying drone light show syncopated to a live orchestra.

The Federal Aviation Administration won’t allow any aircraft to fly near stadiums during major sporting events for safety reasons, out of fear that two drones might accidentally collide and crash into a crowd.  Despite the hurdles involved in making swarm drones legally happen on a wide scale, companies are pioneering ways to use swarm drones to take over jobs too difficult or costly for humans.

One of those companies is sending swarm drones over desolate forests in the Pacific Northwest. Unlike Coachella’s drones, these aren’t supposed to be seen; instead they’re supposed to drop seeds into the ground and spray herbicides. They’re operated by DroneSeed, one of 15 companies with government approval to fly multiple drones at once. Continue reading Thought one drone was enough? Here’s what it takes to put dozens of them in the air

Drone identification: What we know about the FAA ARC plans so far

In the future, the Federal Aviation Administration could implement a system of remotely identifying drones while they’re in the air, as well as finding the pilot operating that drone.

Many suspect that the FAA could implement some sort of drone identification system similar to automotive license plates, which allow law enforcement to identify a vehicle’s owner without stopping the car. Others have suggested that the FAA could come out with a system that tracks or records the location of all drones in real time.

The FAA created a UAS Identification and Tracking Aviation Rulemaking Committee (sometimes referred to as ARC) to make proposals about the details of a drone identification and tracking system. The ARC group had its first series of meetings last week.

“During this initial meeting, the ARC considered issues such as existing regulations applicable to drone identification and tracking, air traffic management for drones, concerns and authorities of local law enforcement, and potential legal considerations,” according to a statement from the FAA. “The group developed some preliminary questions and identification parameters, and reviewed a sample of existing identification technologies.”

The group’s conversations could also lay the groundwork for future regulatory expansion around allowing drone flights over people and beyond line of site. Continue reading Drone identification: What we know about the FAA ARC plans so far