Verizon on Thursday announced that it has acquired Skyward, a Portland, Oregon-based drone fleet management company for an undisclosed sum of money.
Skyward integrates and manages drone operations into one workflow.
Verizon will use Skyward’s technology to streamline the management of drone operations through one platform designed to handle end-to-end activities such as mission planning, complex workflow, FAA compliance support, supplying information about restricted airspace and pilot credentialing, drone registration and provisioning rate plans for drones on Verizon’s network.
The move plays into future plans for drone traffic management. NASA has been working on a plan for unmanned drone traffic management (UTM) that could be adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration, where multiple service providers would allow drone operators to connect with each other through a common application interface. Users would digitally send information about their flight destination and receive data of other drone’s flight information.
The Drone Racing League (DRL) today announced a multi-year partnership with insurance brand Allianz, which includes a new 2017 championship race called the Allianz World Championship series.
The race will consists of six elimination-style, FPV (first person view races) with 16 pilots, airing in more than 75 countries in June 2017.
The pilots in the race will fly through race courses around the U.S. and Europe using DRL’s custom-designed racing drones, which can fly at up to 90 mph. The courses will be located in Miami, New Orleans, Atlanta, Boston, Munich and London.
“To DRL, Allianz is bringing world-renowned brand credibility and a proud history of innovative sports partnerships, including an extensive tradition in auto racing, and an undeniable proof point that the sport of the future has arrived,” said DRL CEO and Founder, Nicholas Horbaczewski in a news release. “The scale and long-term nature of the deal shows Allianz’s genuine commitment to advancing the sport and will accelerate the introduction of drone racing to audiences around the world.”
It may seem like an odd partnership to match an insurance company with a drone racing company, but Allianz has a history of similar (though non-drone related) partnerships, including the Saracens rugby club and Lang Lang, one of my favorite pianists (One of Drone Girl’s other hobbies is playing piano!).
The partnership with Allianz also means races will be held at official Allianz venues, including Allianz branded stadiums and corporate facilities. It also means broadcast time, as the Allianz World Championship will air as 12 hour-long episodes.
UDI RC has a solid lineup of drones that let you see what the drone sees through your smartphone or tablet while recording video. I tested out the UDI Blue Jay and the WiFi FPV drone with VR headset, and here’s how they stack up: U45 Blue Jay WiFi FPV drone
The Blue Jay drone costs $129.99 and is incredibly light and easy to fly. You charge the drone’s battery via USB, insert your own AA batteries into the controller, and download the UDI app for smartphone. You also have to screw on the legs and propeller guards, but it’s very minimal assembly.
The drone has an altitude hold function, which makes it very easy to fly at first try (and gather some decent footage). There’s also a takeoff and landing button, so the drone will automatically hover at a preset altitude after you press the takeoff button.
As far as video quality, the Blue Jay captures 720p high definition photos and videos with a 2MP camera. While it IS “high definition” (this is a criteria many people have when asking me for drone recommendations), keep in mind it is often the megapixels that matter. I’ll let you be the judge — check out my YouTube video! — on whether that is sufficient quality. For context, the significantly more expensive, $450 Phantom 3 Standard shoots 12 megapixel video.
The video records to your phone and a micro SD card, which comes with the drone.
It also can do flips, which is a pretty fun party trick. The drone’s battery life is only about 8 minutes so hopefully your party doesn’t last too long — but the really great thing is it comes with 2 batteries (nice touch!) and a portable USB charging bank, so technically you have more flight time than just the 8 minutes.
I absolutely loved playing with the Blue Jay, and for $129 it’s a perfect gift for someone getting into drones!
In many ways, it is quite similar. It has all the features I love about the Blue Jay, including the altitude hold, FPV view through the smartphone app, and an extra battery and power bank.
It also shoots the same video quality — 720p high definition photos and videos with a 2MP camera.
You don’t have to screw on any prop guards or legs with this one — the drone already comes with them built in. Other than that, both drones really fly the same.
The main difference with this drone is that it comes with a VR headset, so you can fly like you have FPV goggles on — like the drone racers do.
It was pretty nifty, and a cool experience for people who wouldn’t have the opportunity to try the “real deal” that drone racers use such as Fatshark goggles. However, I felt like the VR headset was cheap — it’s basically goggles with a mount for your iPhone — and thus a little difficult to see clearly and use. I gave up pretty quickly and reverted to flying line of sight with the drone, while referencing my smartphone to occasionally see what the drone’s camera sees.
The main difference between the two drones is the VR Headset. If you have an interest in getting into FPV drone racing, it would be worth paying the extra $30 for the U818 and getting the more expensive drone with goggles. However, if you are looking for a cool party trick and some basic aerial images, I would save the $30 and get the Blue Jay, since the FPV goggles felt cheap.
But on that note, this drone is low cost, but an incredible value for what you get. The FPV goggles were the only item that felt a little cheap, and the rest of the drone was truly fantastic for just about $150.
The main factor to consider when investing in one of these two drones is they won’t be of the video quality you can expect to get from a significantly more expensive drone — hence why they are so much more expensive! But as far as the experience of drone flying goes, both of the UDI drones were incredible easy to setup, use, light, portable and fun. Happy flying!
UDI has partnered up with me to do a FREE DRONE GIVEAWAY! To win one of these two drones, simply subscribe to my YouTube channel and comment on my UDI Video with your favorite place to fly a drone. You must have set your YouTube settings to allow users to contact you via YouTube. I will randomly select the winner on Friday, 12/2 at 9 a.m. PT. The winner will have 72 hours to respond before another winner is contacted.
Its an improvement from its predecessor, the Phantom 4, which had a sensor on the front that could detect and navigate around obstacles.
While DJI’s drones can fly on their own based on pre-programmed GPS coordinates, if the person did not account for a building or tree in the way, previous models of the Phantom would crash into the building on its way to that coordinate. Adding a sensor on the drone gave the drones the ability to sense a building in the way, and instead hover in front of it and, if possible, navigate around it. But since the sensor was just on the front of the drone, the obstacle avoidance function would not work if the drone was flying sideways or backwards.Continue reading DJI Phantom 4 Pro and Pro+ can sense obstacles on four sides→
The Drone Racing League seems to keep getting bigger and bigger.
DRL this week announced partnerships with three international sports broadcast and media companies: ESPN, Sky and 7Sports. DRL will also partner with MGM Television to develop reality shows, developed by executive producer Mark Burnett, who is otherwise known for his work on “Survivor,” “The Voice” and “The Apprentice.”