Category Archives: News

DJI is dominating the consumer drone industry, so which companies are left?

The following is an excerpt of a piece I wrote for MarketWatch. Read the entire story here. 

The consumer drone world is crashing.

In September, California drone company 3D Robotics laid off 150 members of its staff. Two months later, GoPro Inc. GPRO, -0.86%  announced it would lay off 200 employees after recalling its Karma drone because they were falling from the sky. Parrot SA PARRO, -0.82%  , which makes the Bebop drone, announced in January a plan to reduce its drone team of 840 employees by 290 people—about one-third. In January, the makers of Lily, a widely-hyped drone that never actually made it to market, announced they were calling it quits.

So what’s left? Mostly SZ DJI Technology Co. Ltd., a private Chinese company that some analysts believe has a market share as high as 85%. DJI, with a valuation of $8 billion, says sales volume in 2015 was 100 times more than that of 2011. The company rose to popularity with its ready-to-fly Phantom drone, and recently introduced a wildly popular, foldable drone called the Mavic.

But there are other companies still fighting for the dwindling market share that DJI does not own. Mota Group Inc. hopes to go public with its lineup of cheaper drones. Yuneec International and Autel Robotics, both Chinese drone manufacturers, are solid contenders to hang on in the high-end drone fight with DJI, and they’re working to avoid or face down the many problems that damaged other competitors.

Read the rest of this story here.

Drones will now keep your home safe

The following guest post was submitted by Chris Schneider of Awesome-Drones.com. Check out his site here.

At January’s Consumer Electronics Show, interactive home security company “Alarm” announced it is working on a smart drone that monitors your house. No, it’s not something straight out of the movie flubber where that little yellow flying drone called “ weebo “ flies around and monitors the house.

The idea behind this smart drone is that if an indoor motion sensor picks up movement while the homeowner is sleeping, the drone takes off and flies to that location, while you stay in bed and monitor the whole thing from your smartphone.

Alarm is not alone in using drones for home security. Other startups including Sunflower Labs, Secom Co and Eighty Nine Robotics from Chicago are starting to develop these automated security drones, though none of those are able to function indoors.

Alarm’s system is tailored to both indoors and outdoors, according to Dan Kerzner which is the Chief Product Officer. The drone is based on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon Flight platform.  The drone also doesn’t fly around the property 24/7 (as that would be costly and potentially dangerous and annoying), but instead is only enabled to fly after the hours the user designates.

Once triggered, it flies to the location and starts recording and live streaming back to your phone. Of course, the sight of a loud, flying object coming closer might be enough to scare off intruders.

The following guest post was submitted by Chris Schneider of Awesome-Drones.com.

DJI partners with AMA to offer drone safety and training program

DJI announced it is launching a drone training program in partnership with the Academy of Model Aeronautics (AMA).

DJI and the AMA will jointly promote the AMA Public Safety course, which is a hands-on training program that provides public safety officers the knowledge needed to safely and effectively use drone technology in their daily jobs. The course includes live training in flight skills and orientation management, culminating in a series of flights to apply their skills in simulated public safety missions.

The partnership also means that DJI will support the AMA’s educational outreach programs including the UAS4STEM drone construction and flight competition for teens.

The AMA is a group of about 195,000 model aircraft enthusiasts founded in 1936.

A variety of third parties also offer in-person flight training courses, including DARTdrones, which offers an 8-hour in-person course in dozens of locations around the U.S. with the DJI Phantom and DJI Inspire drones. (Use promo code DRONEGIRL10 to save 10% on any drone training course!)

Many companies including DJI have gotten into hot water over users who some say aren’t qualified to use a drone. A DJI Phantom famously crashed into the White House grounds back in 2015 among other smaller incidents.  Continue reading DJI partners with AMA to offer drone safety and training program

DroneDeploy announces OEM partnership with CNH Industrial

Machinery company CNH Industrial, has a new, all-in-one drone system bundle for job site managers looking to incorporate drones into their work. And its using DroneDeploy drone mapping app to power the software behind it.

DroneDeploy on Thursday announced an OEM partnership with the company, which is one of the largest truck makers in Europe best known for its Iveco trucks and buses and also makes agricultural equipment.

The drone system bundle will give users a DroneDeploy software subscription and a DJI Phantom 4 Pro drone. It’s targeted specifically at agricultural users.

“Farmers and producers may not be able to control certain environmental conditions, but drones are an efficient way to mitigate crop health issues and improve yields,” Scott Lumish, Vice President of Business Development at DroneDeploy said in a news release. “The benefits of being able to survey both the 10,000-foot view of fields, as well as zoom in to inches above the plants, are incredibly powerful.”

The platform is intended to be able to detect parasites and fungi in crops, generate variable rate prescriptions for pesticides and asses storm damage in crops.

 

 

Verizon acquires drone operations management company Skyward for undisclosed sum

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.

“What that does is gives the operator and support services complete awareness of all the other operations going on in the airspace at the same time,” said Parimal Kopardekar, manager of NASA’s Safe Autonomous Systems Operations project. Continue reading Verizon acquires drone operations management company Skyward for undisclosed sum

Here are your DJI Valentine’s Day drone deals

What better way to show someone you love them with a drone? (I’m totally serious *hint Mavic hint*.) DJI is throwing in a free box of chocolates with certain purchases to make the deal sweeter. Here are your DJI Valentine’s Day drone deals.

The following purchases made between now and Feb. 14, 2017 will land you with a free box of Ferrero Rocher chocolates:

For the record, DJI isn’t the only drone company that thinks its drones can help you fall in love. Parrot also launched a video suggesting its drones have romantic qualities too.

Drone Racing League announces its title sponsor is…an insurance company?

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.

Continue reading Drone Racing League announces its title sponsor is…an insurance company?

AES Corporation and Measure partner to make infrastructure inspections safer

Washington, D.C.-based startup Measure and Arlington-based power utility AES Corporation today announced a partnership to make energy infrastructure inspections safer using drones.

Measure operates as a drone service provider, having built out a national network of licensed pilots. The pilots are trained to  acquire, process, and deliver aerial data to enterprise customers for projects such as cell tower inspections, construction development, precision agriculture, disaster response and live media coverage.

Measure’s pilots flew more than 1,100 flights throughout 2016 — that’s about three flights a day.

With the AES Corp. partnership, drones will carry out infrastructure inspections in 17 countries, cutting out 30,000 hours of hazardous work per year by using drones to do inspections that humans would otherwise do.

AES Corp. provide low-cost sustainable energy to 17 countries through distribution businesses and thermal and renewable generation facilities.  AES Corp. generates $15 billion a year in sales powering homes.

Drones are increasingly being used for infrastructure inspections since they typically can be safer, easier, less time-consuming and lower cost than traditional applications. For example, inspection of power lines with drones does not require high-voltage power lines to be shut down, and drones can capture high resolution images from an optimum perspectives and transmit images in real time.

Measure CEO said that Measure uses a variety of hardware to do their work, ranging from higher end drones to DJI drones that you can purchase off the shelf, such as a DJI Inspire.

Earlier this year, Measure announced a $15 million Series B funding round with LionTree Advisors acting as the financial advisor. Measure’s last investment round was in September of 2015.