Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Facebook announced that it is grounding a solar-powered aircraft project it originally hoped would have used laser technology to help provide Internet access for underserved communities. In an effort to connect the nearly 4 billion people around the world who still do not have Internet access, the company has been working for several years from Bridgwater, UK on a high altitude platform station (HAPS) system called Aquila. Rather than continue to develop its own aircraft, however, Facebook has opted to partner with companies such as Airbus and close its facility in Bridgwater. Continue reading Facebook Pulls the Plug on its Aquila Solar-Powered Aircraft

Investigation Opens into Possible Drone-Linked Copter Crash

The first-ever drone-related crash of an aircraft in the U.S. may have taken place last week in South Carolina. According to two helicopter pilots, a student and an instructor, a drone appeared directly in front of them, causing the instructor to take over the controllers. The helicopter’s tail hit a tree or brush, causing the crash landing, which they reported to the South Carolina Police Department. The National Transportation Safety Board is opening an investigation, according to spokesperson Chris O’Neil. Continue reading Investigation Opens into Possible Drone-Linked Copter Crash

CES: AirSelfie Updates its ‘Flying Camera’ With New Features

The pocket-sized AirSelfie drone first appeared as a Kickstarter project in 2016, and now the AirSelfie2 is on display at CES 2018. The new model — which touts camera, flight time and field-of-view upgrades — features the ability to hover in one spot, providing users with the opportunity to record unique selfies and video footage. The AirSelfie2 is controlled by a smartphone app (Android or iOS) and includes a 12MP camera, 16GB of on-board storage, and a flight range of about 60 feet. The drone will be available this March for around $300. Continue reading CES: AirSelfie Updates its ‘Flying Camera’ With New Features

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

NAB 2017: 360 Designs Debuts 4K Live Streaming VR Drone

At NAB 2017, 360 Designs, newly located in Los Angeles, debuted its Flying EYE 4K live streaming VR drone, which links with its Breeze wireless transmission unit. Founder/chief executive Alx Klive reports that the system is available for order now, but will not ship for two months. Priced at $75,000, Flying EYE and Breeze are attracting the attention of aerial photography companies, broadcasters, automotive companies, VR production companies and, interestingly enough, other drone manufacturers. Continue reading NAB 2017: 360 Designs Debuts 4K Live Streaming VR Drone

Super Bowl Halftime Show Offers Glimpse into Future of UAVs

During Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, about 160 million viewers saw something never seen there before: an army of 300 synchronized drones that morphed from stars to a waving flag above the Houston skyline. That effect was courtesy of the Intel Shooting Star drone system, which also has more serious applications, in search-and-rescue and agriculture among other possibilities. The Shooting Star squad has also performed at Disney World and, last year, set a world record by simultaneously launching 500 UAVs into the sky above Sydney. Continue reading Super Bowl Halftime Show Offers Glimpse into Future of UAVs

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

The UK Is Winning the Race to Launch Legal Drone Deliveries

In North America and Europe, Amazon, DHL and UPS are all getting ready to launch fleets of drones to deliver packages. The United Kingdom most likely will be the first country to put unmanned vehicle technology into action because the country’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) can address issues without having to adhere to the schedule of an outside authority such as the U.S. Congress. Issues include allowing drones to safely fly out of an operator’s sight and managing multiple airborne drones. Continue reading The UK Is Winning the Race to Launch Legal Drone Deliveries

UPS Performs Mock Package Delivery to Test Drive New Drone

UPS has begun testing emergency drone deliveries with Massachusetts-based CyPhy Works, a drone company that the shipping giant invested in last year. The companies tested the 3-mile delivery of an asthma inhaler last week. “The CyPhy-UPS drone, called the Persistent Aerial Reconnaissance and Communications drone, or PARC for short, was autonomous during the flight and navigated by GPS,” reports Digital Trends. The drone features “a high-resolution camera with thermal imaging and target tracking abilities, and two GPS units and multiple rotors, antenna and communications systems.” Continue reading UPS Performs Mock Package Delivery to Test Drive New Drone

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

Periscope Adds Drone Integration and Ability to Search Video

Twitter, which owns Periscope, is about to debut a way to search via title or topic through the app’s more than 100 years of live video, also offering a list of suggested topics to search. Having launched a year ago, Periscope has accumulated more than 200 million broadcasts — but no way to search them until now. The search function also gives users a list of live streams by people they follow, and allows users to follow videos from a given region. Also new are drone integration and an ability to save live streams. Continue reading Periscope Adds Drone Integration and Ability to Search Video

In Wake of Q1 Loss, GoPro Pushes Drone Launch to Holidays

Action cam manufacturer GoPro is delaying the release of its Karma drone from June to the end of the year after the company announced a $107.5 million quarterly loss. “The drone’s success is critical to GoPro’s efforts to attract new users to its devices,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “The drone delay adds to GoPro’s string of problems launching recent products. Last year, GoPro slashed the price by half of its entry-level camera, the Hero 4 Session, to entice consumers.” While revenue dropped 49 percent from the previous year, the numbers weren’t as bad as analysts predicted. CEO Nick Woodman said the company is optimistic about “lessons learned from last year,” and is, “seeing the benefits of our simplified product lineup today.”

Continue reading In Wake of Q1 Loss, GoPro Pushes Drone Launch to Holidays

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

Smart Nano Drone Packs Big Features into Tiny Flying Machine

The ONAGOfly drone fits in the palm of your hand, but it comes with built-in features that are comparable with bigger and more expensive drones. The $259 flying camera system captures 1080p HD video and has smile-recognition technology and auto-follow technology to help operators capture the perfect shot. As far as safety, the ONAGOfly has obstacle avoidance sensors and can withstand wind speeds of up to 3.3 m/s. The drone is so small that it doesn’t even need to be registered with the FAA. Continue reading Smart Nano Drone Packs Big Features into Tiny Flying Machine

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