Tag Archives: featured

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.

 

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.

 

05

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