CES is the worlds largest consumer technology exhibition, it has become a platform for many drone manufacturers to release new products. It serves as the global stage for innovators to announce and show off the latest in cutting edge technology.
Needless to say, drones are still in the spotlight and even more so this year with new companies having developed new technologies for the consumer drone market.
Here is the run down of the top 6 drones announced at CES 2016.
Yuneec Typhoon H
It’s no news that drone manufacturer Yuneec and computer tech giant Intel have been working together but now, at CES 2016, they have announced and demoed their new, ready to fly, consumer grade aerial camera platform with an integrated sense and avoid system. The Yuneec Typhoon H.
The system uses the Intel’s RealSense sensor which utilizes infrared lasers to detect the distance of objects from the aircraft allowing it to quickly avoid unexpected obstacles.
They demoed this system on the new Yuneec Typhoon H which has a 4K capable camera with a 12MP sensor, stablasied on a 3 axis brushless gimbal.
Available as of: June 2016
The Belgium crowd-funded, start-up firm Fleye showcased their new drone which they are claiming to be the worlds safest drone.
So what makes this drone so safe? The propellers and other moving parts are all enclosed in a spherical shell to reduce the risk of injury. This makes it a great option for safety concerned parents as the risk and skill level is low. So low that you can touch it mid-flight, allowing you to push it away if it gets too close to you or anything else without sacrificing a finger.
What makes it even safer is the optical flow tracker which uses the same technology as the DJI Phantom’s visual positioning system to help the aircraft keep it’s position without the aid of GPS. Perfect for indoor use. And what’s more is that you can also set a maximum height, so if you are flying indoors and you don’t want to hit the ceiling or lighting, you can set a maximum flight altitude.
Like many new drones, it is controlled via an app that you can download onto your smart phone. In the app, you can alter settings and stream the live video coming from the on-board 1080p HD camera with a range of up to 100 meters.
Something that may come as a surprise is that it has a SDK (software development kit) which enables developers to write applications to control the device using alternative methods of communication e.g. gestures, voice and other electronic devices. Similar to what DJI did with the Matrice.
Available as of: September 2016
Slightly deviating from our traditional multi-rotor drones, Parrot have announced their new fixed wing aircraft. The Parrot Disco. This is arguably the first consumer fixed wing drone on the market. Weighing in at only 700g with a top speed of 50mph, a range of 2km and a flight time of up to 45 minutes, this product could hold a serious position in the market for both hobbyists and commercial operators.
It features a 1080p, 14MP, 3 axis stabilized camera in it’s nose and with it’s easy-to-use semi-autonomous flight controller, it makes getting high quality aerial shots very easy to capture for almost anyone.
It can be operated either with a traditional RC remote of with their own Sky Controller which allows you to use FPV goggles to get the full, immersive experience of flying.
Available as of: TBC
DJI Phantom 4K
DJI have announced its new Phantom 4K quadcopter – It is essentially the budget version of the DJI Phantom Professional with a down-graded video downlink system which streams a 480p video feed and a limited operating range of 1,200m. But for this trade off you are only spending £699 which seems like a great deal for those that want a 4K camera in the air for cheap.
Available as of: January 2016
DJI Inspire 1 Pro – Black Edition
It’s black… There really isn’t much else to say about it.
From the little information and photos that we have been given, it does seem that just the colour of the aircraft shell, controller and battery has been changed and the style of the carbon on the arms has changed to the more traditional weaved carbon fiber style. All for an added £200.
So at the end of the day it’s down to how much your willing to pay for a black version of the original Inspire 1 Pro. If you are thinking about getting the black edition over the original, it would be worth considering that the aircraft and controller will get warm quicker in sunnier environments due to the black absorbing heat easier and you may also find it harder to spot when it’s further away from you.
Available as of: February 2016
Lastly, we have the hugely successful kickstarter campaign, Airdog. It was backed for more than $1.3 million which smashed their original goal of $200,000. The Airdog is designed for use in filming various action sports, using ‘follow me‘ technology to automatically track an athlete, whether that be on land or over sea.
Although it looks like a toy, its been seemingly well designed, keeping the end user in mind. Its light weight design and compact, collapsible form factor makes it ideal for being packed away in a backpack when not in use. When you are using it there isn’t much skill required on the users behalf which is what I think attracts so many users. Once you have attached the Airleash transmitter to yourself and got the Airdog in the air, you can expect to have around 13 minutes flight time and travel up to speeds of 42mph. The transmitter uses Bluetooth to communicate with the drone and has a range of up to 250m.
When the Airdog is up in the air, you can change its settings (altitude, camera angle, flight mode etc.) wirelessly using the Airleash on your wrist or arm. You can change the camera settings via the Airdog App on your smartphone.
It films using a GoPro on a brushless gimbal and whats different about this setup is that you can keep the GoPro in its waterproof housing so that you can fly in the rain or snow with no worries – pretty neat! While on the topic of operating conditions, another thing that puts this drone apart from the rest is that it claims to be waterproof up to 3ft. Now, 3ft may not sound great but the fact that it’s waterproof at all is pretty impressive. It also claims to be able to fly in 30mph winds and operate in sub-zero temperatures. These points eliminate the issue of being weather dependent like any other off the shelf drone on the market.
Available as of: April 2016
CES 2016 Round Up
CES has displayed some hopeful looking products for 2016 and it’s nice to see it’s not all dominated by drone market leader DJI. Other smaller companies are starting to emerge with tech that rivals that of the large manufacturers which makes pricing competitive and pushes technology to develop even faster.
Spacial awareness for drones seems to be the hot topic at the moment with the announcement of the sense and avoid system in the new Yuneec Typhoon H. It will be interesting to see how it takes off compared to DJI’s Guidance Vision Positioning System on the Matrice which was aimed at software developers vs the Typhoon which is ready to fly off the shelf.
Leave a comment below on what drone tech you are most excited for this year.