CES: Updated Drone Tech Offers Possibilities for Production

While drone announcements failed to generate the same buzz during CES 2022 as in previous years, several new products should be of interest to consumers and professionals, especially those in photography, video and movie production. In addition to demonstrations of hydrogen fuel cell tech promising increased flying time and new underwater micro-ROVs touting a range of enterprise applications, CES included affordable feature-rich drones such as Autel Robotics’ Dragonfish with built-in 4K video and 50X optical zoom; Skydio’s self-flying drone, geared toward cinematographers; and Sony’s Airpeak S1, the smallest drone to support a full-size mirrorless Alpha camera.

Skydio introduced the Skydio 2+ (below, starting at $1,099), which features a KeyFrame mode for programming “impossible camera motion that’s smooth, precise, and repeatable.” The drone also touts Skydio Autonomy, using “AI to understand the world around it and predict into the future to make intelligent decisions. Skydio drones can fly themselves through the most demanding tasks or keep you safe from obstacles when you want to take control.”

“You fly the drone to a point in 3D space, press a button when the drone’s camera is lined up with what you want to see in the video, then fly to the next, virtually storyboarding your shot with every press,” explains The Verge.

The Skydio 2+, which earned the Videomaker award for Best Drone of CES, offers a maximum flight time of 27 minutes and comes with a 5Ghz Wi-Fi radio for connection over longer distances. The company also announced during CES that it is introducing the Skydio Care insurance program.

According to The Verge, “the new drone promises the kind of long-range, robust connection that the original Skydio 2 was missing, thanks to a new high-power 5GHz Wi-Fi radio and a pair of pop-up antennas. The company now claims you’ll see 3 kilometers of range from a new optional Skydio 2 Plus Beacon controller — twice as much as with the original Skydio 2 and Beacon — and 6 kilometers of range if you’re using the optional twin-stick Skydio Controller, up from 3.5km originally.”

“Autonomous flight may steal the spotlight, but this drone also promises impressive imaging capabilities,” Videomaker reports. “The Skydio 2+ offers 13+ stops of dynamic range from its 4K camera. The drone can shoot in resolutions up to 4K60 HDR. It also captures 12MP RAW photos.”

The Skydio shop has a full list of accessories and prices.

Autel Robotics unveiled three major drones at CES —  the palm-sized EVO Nano Series (above) geared toward photographers, offering up to 50MP resolution images and sensors to automatically detect and avoid objects; the EVO Lite+ designed for low light and night-time video, with a 1-inch CMOS image sensor, 50MP image quality, fast-acting autofocus and vertical video capability; and the modular, waterproof Dragonfish Series of vertical takeoff winged drones featuring a tilt-rotor design, AI tracking and 4K video with 50x optical zoom.

The Nano starts at $649 and the Nano+ at $799, while the EVO Lite starts at $1,249 and the EVO Lite+ at $1,349.

Autel’s Dragonfish Series (below) is ideal for professional applications. The Pro model can stay aloft up to 180 minutes and travel up to 180 km per hour. It has an 18 mile range. According to the Autel site, “Dragonfish payloads are designed to be interchangeable between aircraft classes to maximize the value and enhance the mission capability of the system.”

Sony says its Airpeak S1 is the smallest drone that can carry a full-size mirrorless Alpha camera. It can travel up to nearly 56 mph with a flight time of 22 minutes. Interestingly, the Airpeak’s landing gear retracts in order to provide a clear field of view.

Announced at last year’s show, the Airpeak is designed for professional photographers and videographers. It is currently available from B&H for $9,000, while the Sony Gremsy Gimbal T3 runs for $2,200.

Related:
Doosan Mobility Innovation and 42air Signs MOU for Hydrogen Powered Fuel Cell Drone Delivery Service at CES 2022, Press Release, 1/6/22
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Drones Gain Traction at CES 2022, Electronics360, 1/5/22
CHASING Presents All Underwater Drones at CES 2022: Making Underwater Explorations Easier for Consumers and Enterprises, Press Release, 1/7/22
SkyDrive Flying Vehicle Revealed at CES 2022: Emission-Free, Ultra-Compact, DroneLife, 1/10/22
CES 2022: Aiseed Introduces Smart Drones Using Edge AI Computing, DIGITIMES, 1/4/22