Category Archives: News

Would you pay thousands of dollars for a drone vacation? Tour operators are betting on it

This article was originally written by Sally French for MarketWatch. As first published in MarketWatch:

Vacation packages, such as yoga retreats and deep-sea-fishing trips, often promise to indulge travelers’ personal passions. But what about a drone vacation?

2018 survey by Booking.com asked customers what their ideal travel activities were, and 27% of respondents responded “learning a new skill.” One of these desired new skills may be drone flying, as several new travel offerings suggest.

The New York Times Journeys, a travel program run by the New York Times, has assembled its first-ever Drone Photography Journey. The $7,600 trip, not including airfare, departs next June and promises to lead participants on an eight-day trek around Norway, taking in such sights as the dramatic Lofoten Islands and ancient Viking settlements.

Since this is a drone trip, every day also includes one or two drone-photography sessions, led by photojournalist Josh Haner, who frequently uses a drone to take photos that have been published in the New York Times. Guests with their own drones can bring them, and new pilots can use one provided by the company.

The New York Times offers dozens of so-called Journeys — mostly led by journalists — such as a culinary journey through India, led by a reporter from the food section, or a climate-change-focused Antarctica trip featuring two Times science writers. This is the first time that the New York Times has ever offered a drone-themed vacation.

The idea of using a vacation to experiment with something new or to try out a unique activity is apparently gaining traction with travelers. Expedia Group Chief Executive Mark Okerstrom said the company generated “north of half a billion dollars in bookings” in 2017 across its Things to Do and Local Expert businesses, and grew its activities transactions by approximately 20% in the first quarter of 2018. TripAdvisor added 30,000 new guided experiences to its site last year, a 50% increase. Continue reading Would you pay thousands of dollars for a drone vacation? Tour operators are betting on it

Yuneec’s new Mantis Q drone may not have obstacle avoidance, but it does has voice control

In an effort to keep up with the rapidly DJI-dominant consumer drone market, Chinese drone manufacturer Yuneec has a new gimmick up its sleeve: voice control.

Yuneec today announced the Mantis Q, the latest addition to its line of consumer drones. The $499, voice-controlled drone resembles the DJI Mavic and Spark drones with its ability to fold its arms against its body to a 6.6 x 3.8 inch mass. It is highly portable, weighing just one pound. Yuneec Mantis Q consumer drone voice control

Like most consumer drones these days, it offers 4K video. The camera can be tilted upwards by up to 20 degrees or downwards by 90 degrees during flight. For cinematic camera flights, the Mantis Q also comes with Yuneec’s automatic flight modes such as Journey, Point of Interest and Orbit Me. Down-facing dual sonar sensors and infrared detection make it safe enough to fly indoors and outdoors.

That’s all pretty much the norm for most consumer drones these days. So what makes Yuneec’s Mantis Q special?

Yuneec is largely touting a new feature that you likely won’t find on any other consumer drone: voice control. Continue reading Yuneec’s new Mantis Q drone may not have obstacle avoidance, but it does has voice control

DJI Mavic 2 drone finally has a new launch date after product leak

It has been a rocky road for the Mavic 2, but it seems the day is upon us when we’ll see it — officially.

DJI had set a date for a new product launch on July 18, but then called the event off so “we can deliver according to our standard of innovation,” according to a statement from DJI.

While the Internet was abound with leaked images of what could only be the Mavic 2, it became official after a U.K.-based catalog published with an advertisement for the Mavic 2.

“Of all places to confirm the Mavic 2 its Argos UK – 2 additions being released Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro (1″ CMOS sensor) — both 31 mins of flight time, 8km range and 1080P live video transmission,” Brett Thake tweeted.

The embargo break by a print catalog of all things forced DJI to officially confirm the Mavic 2’s existence. Continue reading DJI Mavic 2 drone finally has a new launch date after product leak

Here’s your annual reminder to stop flying drones over wildfires

It’s wildfire season again. With more than 120 wildfires are burning across 1.6 million acres in the United States, including California’s Holy Fire and Mendocino Complex Fire, which is the largest California wildfire in recorded history, it’s time to remind pilots not to fly drones over the disaster areas.

“Firefighters across the nation have repeatedly been forced to cease helicopter and airplane operations because the presence of drones prevented them from flying safely,” according to a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration. “In these circumstances, the minutes or hours of flight delay could mean lost lives and destroyed property. ”

Firefighters typically will not fly their own aircraft over the wildfires if they spot a drone in the area due to threat of a collision.

And not only is flying a drone  over wildfires dangerous — it can be illegal. Continue reading Here’s your annual reminder to stop flying drones over wildfires

DJI Spark just got an adorable Line Friends drone makeover

The day I have dreamed of is officially here: the day of cute drones.

Dronemaker DJI today announced a partnership with Line Friends to create a new version of its DJI Spark drone based on the popular character, Brown.

The new drone is simply DJI’s Spark, but this Line Friends drone is painted brown with the face of the iconic, stoic bear, Brown, on the surface of the drone’s body. The controller also has a picture of the adorable bear on the back.DJI Line Friends drone spark

Line Friends are featured characters based on the stickers from messaging app Line. Line is a messaging app primarily popular in Japan and Taiwan, though its characters are gaining popularity around the world, including via a store in New York’s Times Square.

The DJI Spark is DJI’s smallest drone, and was the first of its drones that could be controlled purely by gesture control. The DJI Spark’s camera can detect its user’s body movements such as raising and lowering your hands or waving them. It then can interpret those gestures to follow commands such as flying up and down, or taking a picture. The DJI Spark can even land in the palm of your hand. DJI Line Friends drone Spark brown

It has a battery life of 16 minutes with a camera supported by a two-axis gimbal. With a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor, it can capture 1080p video and 12 megapixel still photos, and has onboard sensors that allow it to detect and avoid obstacles.

The Line Friends drone costs $399, which is the same price as the regular DJI Spark drone as well. (The DJI Spark was $499 when it initially launched). Continue reading DJI Spark just got an adorable Line Friends drone makeover

Drone attack targets Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in assassination attempt

Explosive-carrying drones were detonated near a stage where Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was giving a speech on Saturday in the capital of Caracas, the government said.

While Maduro was unharmed, seven soldiers were injured, said Jorge Rodriguez, the information minister.

“All of the work we have done immediately after has allowed us to establish with evidence that it was an assassination attempt,” Mr. Rodriguez said in a televised statement. Continue reading Drone attack targets Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in assassination attempt

How to inspect a beer factory without shutting it down? Use a drone

How do you inspect the ceiling of a major beer factory without having to shut the entire operation down?

In honor of International Beer Day (yep, that’s today!), here’s another example of Drones for Good.

Czechoslovakian beer giant Pilsner Urquell is now using the collision-tolerant Elios drone, by Swiss dronemaker Flyability, to run inspections of its bottling factory in the Czech Republic.beer factory Pilsner Urquell Czech Flyability Elios
The Elios drone is designed to navigate difficult spaces. It has a rather unique frame — surrounded by a circular cage — allowing it to bounce off obstacles, rather than with more traditional drones where the propellers get caught and the drone crashes. Continue reading How to inspect a beer factory without shutting it down? Use a drone

These scary-realistic scam sites charge absurd sums of money for drone registration

The Federal Aviation Administrations requires that drone pilots in the U.S. to register their drones. It costs $5.

But if you register your drone through one of these ‘scam’ sites, it could cost you 40x that much.

Sites like FederalDroneRegistration.com and FAADroneZones.com pose as official FAA drone registration sites, but instead of charging you a $5 fee — they charge you as much as $200. Continue reading These scary-realistic scam sites charge absurd sums of money for drone registration