Tag Archives: featured

We’re one step closer to drone delivery becoming a reality

In a small Nevada town with just over 3,000 residents, the U.S. just saw its first “urban drone” delivery.

Drone delivery company Flirtey this week delivered a package that included bottled water, emergency food and a first aid kit by drone. The choice of item delivered was meant to illustrate “Flirtey’s vision to reinvent the delivery process for humanitarian, online retail and food delivery industries,” according to a news release.  Continue reading We’re one step closer to drone delivery becoming a reality

DJI’s Phantom 4 is here — and incredible

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

DJI has unveiled its smartest drone yet: it’s the first consumer drone to have the ability to sense and avoid obstacles and marks a huge leap in preventing drone crashes.

DJI’s Phantom 4 drone, unveiled Tuesday, has two forward-facing optical sensors that can scan for obstacles and automatically direct the drone to fly above the obstacle to avoid it. If it can’t fly above the obstacle (for example, a roof overhead or the object is simply too tall) the drone will hover in front of the object until it is manually redirected.

The drone will sell for $1,399 on DJI’s website, but otherwise will be available only through the Apple Store from March 15 to March 29. Continue reading DJI’s Phantom 4 is here — and incredible

Meet the Hawaiian woman who makes surf videos with a drone

Pake Salmon owns a Hawaii destination wedding company, but her hobby is drones. Based out of Makahu, Oahu, a well-known surfing hot spot, Salmon has found a niche photographing surfers with a drone. Here’s how she creates her stunning shots”

DG: How has the mainstream arrival of drones changed surf photography?

PS: Helicopters would come in for big waves. Now you can just send drones in and take care of that shot.

You can definitely get a closer perspective to the surfer. It’s these nice tracking shots you can get doing surfing. You can get a lot more creative with the people. You can stay low to the water and track them as they catch the wave.

Shoreline-0094DG: What do you fly?

PS: I started with the Phantom Vision 2. It didn’t come out of the box ready to fly the way drones do now, and I lost it in the ocean last year. That prompted me to get the Phantom 3 Professional.

DG: You lost it in the ocean? Continue reading Meet the Hawaiian woman who makes surf videos with a drone

The 13 best drone photos of 2015

SkyPixel, DJI’s aerial photography community, announced the top drone images of 2015.

The winners were chosen out of 10,000 entries submitted from 146 countries to the two-month global competition.

Kirk Hille, SkyPixel

Pictured above is the year’s overall top photo, called “Surge,” and shot by Kirk Hille. Ken Geiger, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer and a SkyPixel competition judge, said “Surge” offered “a unique viewpoint, lovely color and composition” and “made an emotional connection with me, making me wish to be part of the scene,” according to DJI.

And here are other winning photos:

First Prize, Professional Group: Beauty

Populus in the Fall: Hanbing Wang/SkyPixel
Populus in the Fall: Hanbing Wang/SkyPixel

Continue reading The 13 best drone photos of 2015

4 controversies that will define drones in 2016

2015 was a whirlwind year for drones — consumer drone sales hit records, the FAA called for drone registration, and the commercial drone regulation deadline was missed. We saw drones epically (and dangerously) crash, and we also saw epic innovation in the technology, with everything from improved cameras to quads that are easier to fly than ever.

So what can we expect to see in 2016? Here are 4 controversies that will continue to develop, be resolved, or lead to even greater debate in a community that is rapidly innovating:

REGISTRATION:  The Federal Aviation Administration in mid-December announced a rule requiring drone owners to register their vehicles by Feb. 19, 2016.

Drone owners will have to register through a website for $5 per drone owner, in line with current FAA requirements for registering an aircraft. To encourage registration, the FAA said it would refund the $5 fee for drones registered in the first 30 days of the site’s availability, through Jan. 20. Registration will cover all of an owner’s drones weighing between 0.55 pounds and 55 pounds.

The purpose: The purpose is two-fold: the first is to identify users of drones that go rogue (ie. crash somewhere they aren’t supposed to be and the owner can’t be found). It’s also to force a small amount of education upon users and to symbolically state that drones are tools, not toys.

The controversy: Some have felt that registration is unnecessary, imposing, costly, will just turn into one more dataset to be hacked and won’t achieve anything. The thinking is reckless drone operators won’t actually register, while responsible pilots will, so there is no purpose in going through the hassle of the process.

Others feel that it is not too burdensome, but could go a long way in preventing cases of people who simply don’t know they are near an airport or not to fly over people. It’s a small step in preventing greater harm.

The Drone Girl prediction: Despite some saying that what the FAA is doing is illegal, the process will go on and users will have to register. It likely won’t be enforced 100% in the sense that 99% of drone users will get away with never being registered (cops have other things to enforce), but we will see some cases of operators being prosecuted.

Final Preparations At SZ DJI Technology Co. First Flagship Store As It Opens
Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images

GEOFENCING: DJI in November announced a software update to its drones designed to limit flying over sensitive areas like prisons and airports. It 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. DJI’s 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.

The controversy: Some have felt that limiting where people can fly infringes on one’s freedom to fly a drone. Many are worried about the technological implementation.

Others feel Continue reading 4 controversies that will define drones in 2016

Jet Jat Nano: Here’s a drone for your stocking (that actually fits inside)

jet jat nanoThe Jet Jat Nano is the tiniest little drone I’ve ever seen.

Creatively and compactly packaged, everything you could possibly need to fly it fits in the RC transmitter, including the drone itself. The drone sits in a case inside the transmitter, which in itself is small enough to fit in a loose pocket.

It doesn’t have a camera on it, so this is purely for someone interested in having a drone just for the sake of flying it.

jet jat nano controllerFlying it is a challenge, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. As with most small drones, there’s no altitude hold, and the drone goes out of control with any minor movements. But for someone who wants to learn precision piloting, this may be the stocking stuffer for you. If you can master this little drone, you can master anything.

In fact, something like this is what I would recommend beginner pilots buy. There is no sense in throwing your brand new $1000 Phantom in the air that you got for Christmas with zero flying experience. I’ve heard of a lot of Phantoms end up in the pool or on the roof that way.

drone girl jet jat nanoI love the idea of getting the hang of the controls on a $30 or $40 drone, and then progressing on to the real deal.

And for someone who just enjoys the thrill of flying, this will do that for you without requiring you to spend $1,000.

The drone works outdoors or indoors, so it’s a cool party trick. Continue reading Jet Jat Nano: Here’s a drone for your stocking (that actually fits inside)

Parrot Bebop 2 improves on battery life, proves winner in the range of $500 drones

Last year I told you about the Parrot Bebop, my favorite drone for someone looking for good quality images but for less than $500.

Parrot just launched the $599 Parrot Bebop 2, a refreshed take on the original Bebop 1. The Bebop 2 will be available to the public on Dec. 14, but Parrot let me give it a whirl ahead of time.

The drone is mostly the same as the Bebop 1 but with technological improvements — an impressive 25 minutes of battery life — pretty much doubling the flight time of its predecessor.parrot bebop 2

The drone is easy to fly — able to maintain altitude and is easy enough for a kid to control. But it’s also a little more hoppy than counterparts like the smooth (and for some, arguably too slow) Yuneec Typhoon which could provide a layer of excitement for someone who finds joy in maneuvering the copter while in flight rather than just getting video footage.

I love the Bebop for taking on a vacation – at less than 18 ounces (about the weight of one and a half cans of coke), it’s incredibly light. But’s it’s powerful enough to fly at 37 mph horizontally, or 13 mph vertically. That means it takes less than 20 seconds to hit 328 feet.

And the video quality is solid — a fish-eye camera digitally stabilizes the HD video on a 3-axis framework, a type of digital gimbal.

What really sets this drone apart from others is the Continue reading Parrot Bebop 2 improves on battery life, proves winner in the range of $500 drones

Drone delivery is here today: here’s how it works

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

On Sunday, hours before Cyber Monday, Amazon.com Inc. published a video starring TV host Jeremy Clarkson purporting to be from “the not-too-distant future” that showed how its drones could deliver a child’s soccer shoe within 30 minutes. “In time, there will be a whole family of Amazon drones,” Clarkson intoned.

When companies such as Amazon and Alphabet Inc.’s Google X unit talk about drone delivery as the next iteration of consumer retail technology, the response is sometimes a combination of incredulity and skepticism. But it’s already happening in some parts of the world — and there’s nothing magical about it.

Menlo Park, Calif.-based startup Matternet has been running drone deliveries of medical supplies and specimens in countries around the world, including Switzerland, Haiti and the Dominican Republic, since it was founded in 2011.

drone_1_21. Point of departure

A doctor needs to send a blood sample to a lab across the city for testing. Samples would be packed up and taken to a landing pad, possibly on the roof or courtyard of a hospital. Matternet’s landing pads need only a small yard or rooftop of clearance to take off.

Matternet’s drones can hold up to one kilogram (2.2 pounds) and transport items about 10 miles, traveling up to 40 mph, which is about standard for current drone technology. Including lift off and landing, a 10-mile journey should take about 18 minutes.

Read the rest of this story here.