Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

Amazon, Alphabet’s Wing and Uber Technologies are conducting government-approved trials of drones to deliver packages. Wing is in Christiansburg, Virginia and Uber will begin tests in San Diego before the end of 2019. United Parcel Service also gained FAA approval to create a fleet of drones to deliver health supplies and, ultimately, consumer packages. The FAA predicts that drones for commercial purposes will reach 2.7 million by 2020. Meanwhile, the Department of the Interior is grounding more than 800 drones that were manufactured in China, citing national security concerns. Continue reading Drones in Delivery Tests, U.S. Agency Bars Chinese UAVs

How DJI Osmo Action Cam Stacks Up Against GoPro Hero

Drone maker DJI just introduced its Osmo Action, a camera that some say will give GoPro a run for its money. Among its strong points, the Osmo Action shoots 4K at 60 fps and 1080p at 240 fps. It offers good electronic image stabilization and a front LCD screen that lets the users double-check framing, which comes in handy when the camera is mounted to a bike frame or vehicle, obscuring the 16×9 LCD rear screen. It also offers a replaceable lens cover to easily add filters. Its form factor and user interface mimics that of the GoPro. Continue reading How DJI Osmo Action Cam Stacks Up Against GoPro Hero

Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

At its Build developer conference this week, Microsoft is showing products that highlight its changed direction under the aegis of chief executive Satya Nadella. Among them is a DJI drone loaded with Microsoft software to identify oil pipeline faults without an Internet connection. Although Microsoft is helping customers enhance their existing gear, the company promised “big things ahead” to those entirely in the Microsoft ecosystem. Uninvolved in recent data scandals, some deem Microsoft to be the tech industry’s moral conscience. Continue reading Microsoft Builds on Existing Tech, Voices Moral Conscience

Microsoft Reaches Out to Developers at its Build Conference

Microsoft revealed interesting news during this week’s Build developer conference in Seattle, Washington. Among the key announcements: a pair of mixed reality enterprise apps for the HoloLens; a partnership with DJI to bring Microsoft’s AI and machine learning tech to commercial drones; a preview launch of deep learning acceleration platform Project Brainwave; prototype hardware designed for the meeting room of the future; and Project Kinect for Azure, which provides developers with the opportunity to experiment with a package of sensors and Microsoft’s next-generation depth camera. Continue reading Microsoft Reaches Out to Developers at its Build Conference

Skydio R1 Drone Touts Advanced Visual Tracking, 4K Camera

Several companies have offered drones that can, more or less, follow a target and avoid obstacles. But now a new company, Skydio, has introduced the $2,499 R1 drone that shows significant promise. The R1 doesn’t use GPS or wearable trackers for 3D vision tracking, yet is able to avoid obstacles from all angles at speed (about 25 miles per hour). The high-quality device, which Skydio describes as a “self-flying camera,” is also easy to use. The R1, via camera lenses that point up and down on a two-axis gimbal, also records 4K video. Continue reading Skydio R1 Drone Touts Advanced Visual Tracking, 4K Camera

GoPro to Exit Drone Market in 2018, Cut More Than 250 Jobs

While companies such as Yuneec, DJI, Ryze Tech, AirSelfie Group and others tout their latest drones and related products at CES this week, action-cam manufacturer GoPro announced that it plans to exit the drone market completely once it unloads its remaining $799 Karma drones. Citing “hostile regulatory environments” and an “untenable” aerial market, the company also plans to cut more than one-fifth of its workforce. GoPro faces mounting competition from new smartphones that feature improved video capabilities and advanced lenses. The company reduced the price of its Hero5 Black and Hero5 Session cameras in December, and this week announced it would lower its Hero6 model from $499 to $399. Continue reading GoPro to Exit Drone Market in 2018, Cut More Than 250 Jobs

Startup Debuts Watch-Sized $99 Intelligent Toy Drone at CES

Chinese startup Ryze Tech is debuting its smartwatch-sized, 80g toy drone in Las Vegas this week. Featuring vision-processing tech from Intel and flight stabilization from DJI, the $99 Tello will launch in China later this month and be available in the U.S. after March. The drone is aimed at younger users, with an emphasis on safety and ease-of-use, and features an HD camera for capturing 5-megapixel photos, 360-degree video, and live-streaming to a mobile device or third-party VR headset. The Tello is capable of flying for 13 minutes at a time and is controlled from a mobile app connected via Wi-Fi. Continue reading Startup Debuts Watch-Sized $99 Intelligent Toy Drone at CES

Sales of DJI Drones Are Going Sky-High as Market Takes Off

Drones are a booming industry sector. Gartner Research says global drones sales in 2016 bumped up 60 percent to 2.2 million, with revenue growing 36 percent to $4.5 billion. The Consumer Technology Association reports that hobbyists in the U.S. purchased 2.4 million drones in 2016, compared to 1.1 million in 2015. But it isn’t easy to nail down sales numbers for drones, given that the definition for what constitutes a drone varies. Gartner calls an aircraft that can connect to the Internet a drone, a “conservative” definition.  Continue reading Sales of DJI Drones Are Going Sky-High as Market Takes Off

Mavic Pro Review: DJI’s New Drone Is Compact and Capable

DJI’s Mavic Pro drone is now being reviewed and sold to consumers, and it’s coming up roses. Already sold out or back-ordered in many places, the drone features numerous advanced features in a highly portable package, with a range of 4 miles and a top speed of 40 mph. The Mavic Pro has taken a page from the technology book of the larger Phantom 4, using an array of cameras to see obstacles in 3D and make quick decisions to avoid them. The small controller can hook onto a smartphone, which becomes its main screen. Continue reading Mavic Pro Review: DJI’s New Drone Is Compact and Capable

DJI Debuts New Drone Models and Produces Showcase Film

DJI, whose Phantom drones dominate the nascent market sector, just introduced Inspire 2, an upgrade to its flagship model, and Phantom 4 Pro, an upgrade from last year’s Phantom 4. To showcase its UAV tech, the company has produced a short film using the new Inspire 2. The Phantom 4 Pro introduces multiple crash-avoidance features, including rear and infrared sensors. It can now both fly fast (31 mph) and keep obstacle avoidance engaged; the previous Phantom 4 could only fly that fast in “Sport Mode,” with no obstacle avoidance. Continue reading DJI Debuts New Drone Models and Produces Showcase Film

Intel Acquires Movidius, Plans Next Wave of RealSense Tech

Intel announced it is acquiring Movidius, the Irish computer vision company that builds processors for drones, robots, VR systems and more. Movidius was an early partner with Google and was responsible for Project Tango’s 3D sensor technology. Intel is planning to move beyond PCs; the Movidius deal is expected to help it expand its artificial intelligence portfolio and build upon its RealSense platform. According to Intel, with Movidius the company “gains low-power, high-performance SoC platforms for accelerating computer vision applications.” Continue reading Intel Acquires Movidius, Plans Next Wave of RealSense Tech

Intel Unveils Mixed Reality Headset, Drone, Joule Maker Board

At the Intel Developer Forum, the company showed several new technology projects, including Project Alloy, an unusual “mixed reality” headset; a quadcopter “ready-to-fly” drone aimed at software developers; and a new Joule maker board designed as a platform for computer vision products. The company, which plans to collaborate with Microsoft on the mixed reality headset, says it does not need to be connected to a high-powered personal computer, as do other headsets, most notably Oculus Rift. Continue reading Intel Unveils Mixed Reality Headset, Drone, Joule Maker Board

FAA Issues New Drone Rules, Not Enough for Drone Industry

The Federal Aviation Administration just issued rules, to take effect in August, for how businesses can use small drones, specifically for those weighing less than 55 pounds. Among the new restrictions are that drone speed must be kept under 100 miles per hour and that users may operate them during twilight only if they are equipped with anti-collision lights. The maximum altitude has also been lowered to 400 feet from 500 feet, and the age limit for operators also lowered, to 16 from 17 years old. Continue reading FAA Issues New Drone Rules, Not Enough for Drone Industry

Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

The FAA’s mandatory drone registration does not seem to be impacting UAV sales, which have grown 224 percent from April 2015 to April 2016 for a total of nearly $200 million, according to The NPD Group. Robotics Trends reports the FAA’s database indicates there are now “461,433 registered hobbyist drone owners in 39,471 zip codes.” NPD notes that DJI is the clear U.S. market leader at 49 percent, followed by Parrot (19 percent), Protocol (6.3 percent), Yuneec (5.6 percent) and 3D Robotics (4 percent). Drones with 4K cameras represented more than one-third of sales for the 12 month period, and GPS-outfitted drones accounted for 64 percent of sales. Continue reading Drone Sales Grow 224 Percent Year-Over-Year to $200 Million

Drone Makers Group Wants a Voice in Setting Airspace Policy

Four major drone manufacturers formed a new drone advocacy group, the Drone Manufacturers Alliance, to better address issues specific to their consumer-facing businesses. DJI, 3DR, Parrot and GoPro aim to lobby for “policies that promote innovation and safety, and create a practical and responsible regulatory framework.” The companies appear to have decamped from the founding trade association in the space, the Small UAV Coalition, which still counts Google X, Amazon Prime Air, AirMap, Intel and others as members. Continue reading Drone Makers Group Wants a Voice in Setting Airspace Policy

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