Tag Archives: featured

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.

Parrot and PowerUp launch Kickstarter for paper airplane drone

PowerUpFPV5Who needs carbon fiber when you have paper?

French drone maker Parrot, maker of the popular Bebop drone, and PowerUp Toys today launched a new Kickstarter for the world’s first paper airplane drone with a live-streaming camera on it.

Yes, a paper airplane drone — and it’s being made through Kickstarter with a funding goal of $100,000.

The Tel Aviv-based company PowerUp Toys is not new to the remote-controlled paper space. The company’s $49.99 smartphone controlled paper airplane allows flyers to control the motor’s power for descending or ascending during flight; and the rudder for changing direction. That raised $1.2 million in a Kickstarter campaign. The company also previously made a paper motor boat.

PowerUpFPV13But their latest product creates a first-person-viewing (FPV) experience via paper drone, letting  people experience what it’s like to sit in the cockpit of a paper airplane, directly on their smartphone, or using a Google Cardboard headset.

“As a pilot, I wanted to give people the same feeling of sitting in the cockpit and being the controls with the simplicity of paper airplanes,” said Shai Goitein, CEO of PowerUp Toys. “With a live video experience straight to your cell phone or VR headset, you can control the plane with movements of your head, giving you the sense that you are flying through the air, riding your paper airplane.”

PowerUp is partnering with Parrot, which provides the wifi video stream for the PC Boards. The partnership began when Goitein met Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux a year ago at CES, a PowerUp spokesperson said.

Here’s the iPhone on a Drone that won over Mark Cuban and the rest of ‘Shark Tank’

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

How to win a huge investment on the TV show “Shark Tank”?

Try pitching Mark Cuban a “PhoneDrone,” a flying robot that operates via your smartphone. It worked for xCraft’s Charles Manning and JD Claridge, creators of the X PlusOne drone and the PhoneDrone.

The two pitched their drone startup on season seven of ABC’s DIS, -2.22% “Shark Tank,” seeking $500,000 for 20% equity in their company, which would have valued it at $2.5 million. They walked away with $1.5 million for 25% equity in a unanimous investment involving every single “Shark Tank” judge in the episode: Mark Cuban, Daymond John, Kevin O’Leary, Lori Greiner and Robert Herjavec — a rare feat on the show. The “Shark Tank” investment values the company at $6 million.

SHARK TANK - "Episode 705" - In one of the most exciting moments of "Shark Tank" history, the ante is upped when the Sharks start to bid OVER the asking price for one product and the million dollar offers start to fly. But will greed burst the bubble before a deal is set? Another pitch prompts a brutal brush-off from an irate Shark. Two parents from Salem, Massachusetts pitch their novel idea for managing Trick-or-Treaters' excess candy with a children's book and gifts; two men from Pacific Palisades, California tout their premium beef jerky made from filet mignon which has the Sharks swooning over the taste and the price point; a woman from Sand City, California pitches a full-length mirror designed to build self-esteem, and two men from Sandpoint, Idaho claim they have redefined drones with inventions that fly up to 60 mph and as high as 10,000 feet. In addition, in a follow-up on the NYC-based Bantam Bagels, the company in which Lori Grenier invested last season, we see how their unique stuffed bagels fare when given a national stage, on "Shark Tank," FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23 (9:00-10:01 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Beth Dubber) JD CLARIDGE, CHARLES MANNING (XCRAFT)
(ABC/Beth Dubber)

XCraft creates both the X PlusOne, a hybrid, professional-grade drone that both hovers and can fly at speeds greater than 60 miles an hour, and the PhoneDrone, a device that gives your smartphone wings, allowing it to stream video through Periscope or download it straight to the phone.

Though XCraft founder JD Claridge says he sees long-term growth in the commercial drone market, it was the consumer-targeted PhoneDrone that really won over the sharks. Claridge talked with MarketWatch about his business and what it’s like to land a deal on “Shark Tank.”

MarketWatch: Why do you think your company won on “Shark Tank”?

Claridge: Drones are hot. A lot of investors are interested in them now.

Our strategy was to show we’re more than just a product. We’re a powerful team in the founding members. I’m the nerd on the aerospace side, the inventor. I brought on Charles Manning as the business development guy — he’s the business smarts, but his background is in software. We wanted to make sure the sharks understood that.

SHARK TANK - "Episode 705" - In one of the most exciting moments of "Shark Tank" history, the ante is upped when the Sharks start to bid OVER the asking price for one product and the million dollar offers start to fly. But will greed burst the bubble before a deal is set? Another pitch prompts a brutal brush-off from an irate Shark. Two parents from Salem, Massachusetts pitch their novel idea for managing Trick-or-Treaters' excess candy with a children's book and gifts; two men from Pacific Palisades, California tout their premium beef jerky made from filet mignon which has the Sharks swooning over the taste and the price point; a woman from Sand City, California pitches a full-length mirror designed to build self-esteem, and two men from Sandpoint, Idaho claim they have redefined drones with inventions that fly up to 60 mph and as high as 10,000 feet. In addition, in a follow-up on the NYC-based Bantam Bagels, the company in which Lori Grenier invested last season, we see how their unique stuffed bagels fare when given a national stage, on "Shark Tank," FRIDAY, OCTOBER 23 (9:00-10:01 p.m. ET) on the ABC Television Network. (ABC/Beth Dubber) MARK CUBAN, DAYMOND JOHN
(ABC/Beth Dubber)

MarketWatch: Were you gunning for a particular shark?

Claridge: My partner and I had targeted Cuban. He was our first pick if we had a choice, just because of his connections with a lot of other companies in the tech space. Ironically he was one of the last ones to join in.

Read the rest of this story here.

Review: The incredible Yuneec Tornado drone with GH4 integration for $3,499

If Yuneec’s Typhoon drone is the BMW of drones (as I once called it), then its Tornado drone is the Hummer.

But that’s not to say it feels or flies like one – it just looks like how a droneified version of one would look. It’s huge, it’s powerful, and it houses one of the best cameras out there – the Panasonic micro four thirds camera sensor on a stabilized 3-axis gimbal.

———–

The first time I flew a drone for an audience in 2013, I was terrified. What if I didn’t get the GPS lock right but needed to return to home? What if it went haywire during takeoff and land and skidded across the ground?

That was the state of drones just 2 years ago. Less than steady or reliable, and if you weren’t 100% confident on a Phantom 1, you shouldn’t be flying an S1000. (For the record, I still haven’t flown an S1000).

So let’s just say I was terrified when I was asked to fly Yuneec’s new 11-pound Tornado drone ($3,499 on B&H photo) during a fly day at Gloria Ferrer Winery in Sonoma, Calif. to demo some of their new gear—including the Tornado.

But I had no reason to be. The Tornado flies just as simply as the Typhoon, Yuneec’s competitor to DJI’s Phantom. If anything, it’s even more stable since it’s so large. The design is impressive. It can hold three rechargeable batteries, giving users about 40 minutes of flight time.

What really makes the Tornado a standout drone is the integration with the CGO4 gimbal camera (sold separately). The CGO4 gimbal camera incorporates a Panasonic GH4 micro four thirds camera sensor with a 3x optical zoom lens, housed on the 3-axis gimbal system.

Above is footage I took from the Tornado and CGO4 camera at the winery, not color corrected or edited in any manner to show true footage out of the box. I did notice the camera has a tiny bit of a rolling shutter effect when pointed directly into the sun, as seen in the shot pointing at the winery building.

Other things I love about the Tornado:

  • Smart design: Arms fold in so it’s easier to pack (relatively – it’s still huge)
  • Lightweight: It’s a carbon fiber frame so although it looks huge, it’s not unreasonable for a tiny person like me to carry
  • Ease of use in mind: even though it’s targeted for professionals, it still has all the safety features that Yuneec is eager to promote in its hobby drone, the Typhoon. The tornado includes return to home, auto landing, and five rotors for safety
  • Integration with Panasonic GH4 camera: of course! The footage looks amazing!

yuneec tornado drone

Yuneec’s products, like a fine sports car, are consistently sleek in design. More importantly, it’s stable. It stands true to Yuneec’s mantra of “easy to fly and safe to fly.” And that’s what’s so powerful about this drone. Someone flying a drone should be able to focus on the environment around them and the photos they’re taking – not the vehicle itself.

My expedition to Sonoma to demo the Tornado was with about a dozen people who had never flown a drone before, and each one of them was able to take off, fly and land the drone with no prior experience other than the Typhoon just minutes earlier. The Tornado is not for hobbyists (unless you are a hobbyist who has about $8,000 total to spare on the camera, drone and lenses). But for a filmmaker or anyone else needing mega high-quality video for professional purposes in a ready to fly product, this copter is a no brainer.

Related posts:

“Aerojournalism”: it’s about more than just ‘stunning’ photos


Earlier this year, InterDrone invited me to teach a class about “drone journalism.” Then, Jeff Foster of The Drone Coalition asked me to write about drone journalism for his site. It’s an important topic especially in light of the fact that 1 million drones are expected to be sold this Christmas, and inevitably some will be used by journalists or…’citizen journalists’ at least.

So in blog format, here is the class I taught. Do you agree?

Aerojournalism, dronalism, call it what you will — but drone journalism is coming.

It already has in some capacity. Right now it’s in its nascent stages — it’s quite common to see stories on Mashable or Huffington Post showing, “Canadian Rockies Are Magical In Stunning Drone Video” or “Drone Offers Beautiful Views of Massive Flower Garden.” CNN was quite public about its use of a drone to cover the 50th anniversary of Selma (Jon Stewart throws some solid jabs at CNN reporting on the drone, not using the drone to report: watch this video starting at the 4:30 mark.) But one day in our lifetimes, drones are going to becoming so ubiquitous that they will become a news gathering tool alongside a pen, paper, microphone or iPhone.

December 2012: I was in Costa Rica working on a photo essay for my photojournalism degree at the University of Missouri, before what I had hoped would be my last semester of college. But going through my degree requirements, I realized I was going to be one credit short of graduation.

Out in the jungle of Costa Rica, I quite literally stumbled upon a drone journalism class. Between chasing down monkeys to study their nesting patterns, we rested for lunch, and I explained to one of the professors my dilemma.

That professor would be teaching the Missouri School of Journalism’s first-ever drone journalism class, and he said I could audit it for one credit. I had never even heard of drones at the time, but I had no choice — I signed up.

There, we talked about using drones for journalism —the ethics, the legal issues (the law was quite a bit different in January 2013 then it is now in September 2015). We learned how to fly them, practicing in the school’s agriculture arena. And we even fly them a few times — once even covering a prairie fire.

The types of stories that can be shown with drones are endless. Here are the photos that ran in The Guardian and The Washington Post during the 2013 protests in Bangkok, Thailand over former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra. 28,000 people were there, according to news reports.0304But to really understand what 28,000 people looks like, most people say you would simply have to be there yourself to experience it. That is unless of course, you have a drone. Here’s the photo The Nation ran.

 

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The same goes for stories involving natural disasters. The 37-foot Red River Flood caused destruction in the South, and CNN’s drone footage takes you there.

The drone can show, not tell, important questions like, “what was the scale of this?” It can give a broader perspective.

Aerial photography is certainly not new to journalism. It’s quite common for major TV networks to use helicopters to show traffic, fires or police chases. It’s dangerous to put a person in a flying machine over a fire on a moment’s notice, not to mention costly. Some estimates cost that a helicopter costs $1,300 per hour on average. A drone on the other hand, costs about $1,300 for a one-time fee, and no fee per hour beside the operator’s salary.

There are major roadblocks to drone journalism. The laws keep changing and vary by state and city, so, for any business operating a drone, it’s complicated to know whether something might be legal in one city but not its neighbor. But one thing is clear. Without a Section 333 exemption (which requires the operator to have a pilot’s license), drone use for commercial purposes is 100% illegal.

And that is a huge problem.

Continue reading “Aerojournalism”: it’s about more than just ‘stunning’ photos

No more drones? DJI is bringing ‘drone-like’ video to the ground

This story was originally written for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.

The company that has made its name putting cameras in the air is bringing them back to the ground.

DJI, the world’s largest drone manufacturer, announced today at the London Film Festival a new product called Osmo, which isn’t intended for drones at all. It’s a tiny, hand-held device (what’s known as a “three-axis gimbal” in videography) that integrates with cameras made by DJI and allows for video shot by people on the ground to have the smooth, gliding look of footage shot by an airborne drone. An Osmo costs $649, and also comes with a 4K, 12-megapixel camera.

Here’s how a video would look shot with an Osmo-equipped DJI camera:

“We’re moving into a completely new product sphere,” said Adam Najberg, DJI’s Global Director of Communications.

Najberg says the Osmo isn’t intended to directly compete with GoPro GPRO, -2.51% though there are similar use cases. Like a GoPro, its accessory options include a tripod, bike mount and extension arm — for filming action sports or taking video selfies. But, unlike a GoPro camera, the Osmo doesn’t stream video live, it’s not waterproof, and it doesn’t have GoPro’s durability.MW-DW009_osmo_2_20151007211743_ZH

Read the rest of this story here.

Drone Girl profiles: Eileen Shipley, the woman who is mapping the Wild West with a drone

The next in our series of Drone Girl profiles is with Eileen Shibley, the founder of Monarch Inc.

Monarch just launched a project to aerially survey and 3D map the 19th-century mining town of Bodie, California, and original California Gold Rush town that was the vibrant gem of the Wild West and now is kept in a state of ‘arrested decay.’ Monarch used high precision UAVs to help preserve data about the historic town, using the company’s custom-built drone and 3D-printed gimbal.

5d914d_6d70b00b1fd747a9a126f90a039a03e8.jpg_srz_p_156_180_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_jpg_srz
Courtesy Monarch Inc.

Drone Girl: How did you get into drones?

Eileen Shibley: 5 or 7 years before I retired from defense, I was selected to run the unmanned systems division at the navy’s premiere manufacturing site for drone integration in defense. We worked with every size drone – from teeny ones to the Predator. That’s when I became aware that I had devoted my career to defense, but when I retired I truly wanted to make a difference. I thought, I know what these things are capable of.  I know these things can make a huge difference win the way we do things.

DG: And then?

ES: I led the California delegation to try to get California named as (one of the six drone) test sites. I was barely retired and I was asked to lead this delegation. I thought I should give something back since I’ve gotten so much from this community. When we weren’t selected, I figured, what am I going to do now?

DG: So now you’re mapping the old western town of Bodie.

ES: Bodie Stegosaurus Park — it was one of those thriving places in the 1880s. It became a huge thriving metropolis in no time at all. But now it’s old, it’s decaying. The state has made it a state park and they’re trying to preserve it. They put a request in to the FAA that Monarch be allowed to take our drone to Bodie and map it for them.

Courtesy Monarch Inc.
Courtesy Monarch Inc.

DG: So how did they find you? Continue reading Drone Girl profiles: Eileen Shipley, the woman who is mapping the Wild West with a drone

Behold, the rise of the drone film festival

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

It seems like just about everyone in San Francisco has had a drone for a few years now, including this guy who proposed to his future-fiancee in Alamo Square.

And now, San Francisco is getting its first-ever drone film festival.

The Flying Robot international Film Festival is accepting submissions through Sept. 15 of short films less than five-minutes long, where aerial footage is central to the narrative.

“I had the idea for a drone film festival after witnessing the rise of so much epic aerial filmmaking over the past few years,” the festival’s creator, Eddie Codel, wrote on his website.

“Now that consumer camera drones are readily available and fairly inexpensive, we’re seeing a huge uptick in aerial cinema on YouTube and Vimeo. I want to highlight the best stuff out there and really encourage filmmakers to take it to the next level.”

Categories include “Cinematic,” “Aerial Sports,” “Drones for Good,” and “Student Film.” The winning films will be screened on Nov. 19 at the Roxie Theater in San Francisco.

Read the rest of this story here.