Posts Tagged ‘drone’

Drone may have caused helicopter crash in South Carolina

21 Feb

Officials are investigating whether a recent helicopter crash near Charleston, South Carolina, was caused by a civilian drone operated nearby. The accident, which happened last Wednesday, involved a Robinson Helicopter Co. R22 helicopter carrying an instructor pilot and student.

The two are reporting that a small UAV flew directly in their path, forcing the instructor to perform evasive action. That evasive action, unfortunately, caused the helicopter’s tail to hit a tree, which sent the helicopter into a crash landing, according to Bloomberg. Sources speaking to the publication report that the helicopter’s tail was severely damaged; fortunately, neither person was injured.

A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg that it is looking into initial reports claiming a drone contributed to the crash. Assuming that’s true, this would be the first time that a drone has caused an aircraft crash in the US. The FAA hasn’t commented on the possibly of a drone’s involvement.

Reports of drones being operated illegally, near-misses with aircraft, and even possible collisions are increasing. In recent days, a video surfaced of a drone being operated directly above a commercial passenger jet in Las Vegas. Following that, more recent reports claim a drone struck a tour helicopter in Hawaii. Canadian officials also recently released a report detailing a collision between a drone and a small plane.

Though the drone model hasn’t been stated (and may not be known), Chinese drone maker DJI has preemptively released a statement on the matter, saying:

DJI is trying to learn more about this incident and stands ready to assist investigators. While we cannot comment on what may have happened here, DJI is the industry leader in developing educational and technological solutions to help drone pilots steer clear of traditional aircraft.

Last year, DJI introduced a system called AeroScope that helps law enforcement and airport officials identify drones being operated in restricted airspace.

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Skydio R1 4K camera drone boasts game-changing autonomous tech

16 Feb

California-based company Skydio has announced the R1, a drone described as a “self-flying camera” that autonomously follows and records a subject. Unlike some competing models, R1 was built specifically for autonomous flight; it is able to fly itself at up to 25mph / 40kph while maneuvering around obstacles thanks in part to Skydio’s Autonomy Engine.

While many drones depend on GPS for autonomous flight, Skydio’s R1 is different—it features 13 cameras that work with the Autonomy Engine to perceive and map the world around the UAV. Skydio packed an NVIDIA Jetson AI supercomputer into R1, and the little drone is using it to power intelligent features like real-time movement planning and complex environment navigation.

Here’s a quick intro video that explains how it’s all done:

Users launch the drone in either Side, Follow, or Orbit modes using the companion mobile app. No manual operation is necessary, and in fact, Skydio claims that users can move through complex environments, such as dense woods, without interrupting the R1’s tracking and recording abilities. Skydio goes so far as to claim R1 is “the most advanced autonomous device—of any kind—available today.”

Skydio goes so far as to claim R1 is “the most advanced autonomous device—of any kind—available today.”

The R1, which is small enough to fit in a backpack, is made with carbon fiber and lightweight aluminum. The drone’s primary camera can record subjects at Full HD/30/60fps and 4K/30fps with a 150-degree FOV. The primary camera is isolated from vibrations, stabilized with a 3-axis gimbal, and joined by 64GB of onboard storage. The remaining 12 cameras provide omnidirectional vision for navigation.

Skydio R1 is available now in the United States and Canada through the company’s website for $ 2,500 USD. Buyers are currently limited to one unit with orders shipping 2 to 3 weeks after being placed. To learn more, head over to the Skydio website.

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Reckless drone video under investigation for flying directly above passenger jet

08 Feb

A drone pilot has enraged the entire UAV community after sharing a video in which he flew his drone directly above a passenger jet flying out of Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport. The stunt was captured in a video by the camera drone, which shows it facing the jet before turning to fly in the same direction and quickly dropping altitude to get closer to the aircraft. The drone then chases after the plane but quickly falls behind.

The video was first shared privately on the Facebook group 1% FPV by someone posting under the name “James Jayo Older.” Some concerned members took a screen capture of the video and shared it outside of the Facebook group to bring attention to the dangerous stunt.

The FAA has since confirmed that it is investigating the flight, which has been heavily condemned by drone enthusiasts and the general public alike. Federal regulations prohibit drones from being operated above 400ft, near airports, and around aircraft—this pilot seems to have blatantly violated all three rules. Operating a UAV at such a close distance to an aircraft could put the entire flight at risk.

According to the FAA’s website, recreational drone pilots are required to alert air traffic control towers (when present) and airport operators ahead of time about flights happening within a 5 mile radius of an airport. “However,” the FAA notes, “recreational operations are not permitted in Class B airspace around most major airports without specific air traffic permission and coordination.”

The FAA has an online system where anyone can report a drone violation.

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DJI teases new folding drone announcement for January 23rd

18 Jan

DJI is getting ready to unveil a new… something… on January 23rd. We know this because the Chinese drone maker (and camera company) just released a teaser video that hints at a live product announcement that morning. The tagline, Adventure Unfolds, implying that it might be a new folding drone, possibly a replacement for the Mavic Pro that only recently got some real competition.

The video is made up mostly of stock video footage with epic music playing in the background, but DJI does offer a few tantalizing closeups of a sleek looking new drone (we assume… at least). The photos don’t reveal anything at all, really, but here are a couple of screenshots just in case you want to get speculating:

The description of the video reads, “Your next great journey begins at 10 am EST on Jan 23, 2018,” and it looks like DJI will be streaming the announcement live at this link.

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Autel unveils the EVO drone, serious competition for the DJI Mavic Pro

12 Jan

Autel Robotics released something pretty exciting at CES this week, although it’s stayed (ironically enough) somewhat under the radar so far. Meet the EVO: a folding, portable drone that looks like it could be the first serious competitor for DJI’s extremely popular Mavic Pro.

When DJI first introduced the Mavic Pro—and later bumped up the battery live with the Mavic Pro Platinum—the company liked to say it had “revolutionized personal flight.” The thing is, DJI kind of had a point: the Mavic Pro was both extremely portable and extremely capable, opening up the joys of droning to a whole new range of potential consumers.

But with the debut of the Autel EVO, DJI might want to watch its back.

At first, the EVO seems like an almost shot-for-shot remake of the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum. The folding drone looks very similar, both sport a 3-axis gimbal, both boast intelligent flight modes and obstacle avoidance, they both offer 30 minutes of flight time, and both feature a max operating distance of 4.2 miles (7 km).

Where the EVO manages to rise above (see what I did there…) the Mavic Pro Platinum is exactly where it counts: in the camera and remote control department.

The stabilized camera can shoot at 4K/60p (DJI maxes out at 4K/30p) and the remote comes with a built-in 3.3 inch OLED screen that gives you a live feed at up to 720p—no need to plug your phone into your drone’s remote controller. Finally, the EVO also maxes out at a speed of 20 meters per second (44 miles per hour), which is just a hair faster than the Mavic Pro can handle.

Unfortunately, Autel isn’t quite ready to commit to a specific release date for the EVO, but they did say it will arrive “very soon” and will cost $ 1,000 USD—that’s $ 100 cheaper than the DJI Mavic Pro Platinum, or the same price as the standard Mavic Pro, which can’t quite keep up on battery life.

With DJI suffering from some PR problems of late, Autel has a real opportunity to steal some Mavic market share here. For our part, we’re going to try and get an EVO in the office for testing as soon as possible.

To learn more about the Evo, check out the full release below or head over to the Autel Robotics website.

Press Release

Autel Robotics Announces New Aircraft EVO at CES 2018

At CES 2018, Autel Robotics USA announced its new flagship aircraft line, the EVO.

EVO is a portable camera drone with foldable arms and a sleek, compact form factor. We’re incredibly excited about this product, and after showing it off at CES, are eager to get it out into the wild for our customers to enjoy.


  • 4K UHD 60FPS camera equipped on a 3-axis gimbal
  • Front & Downward (Computer Vision) and Rear (IR Sensor) Obstacle Avoidance Systems
  • 3.3 Inch built-in OLED screen remote controller with 720p live video
  • 30-minute flight time
  • Speeds up to 20 meters per second
  • 4300 mAh Li-Po Battery, 1.3 hour recharge time
  • 7km (4.2 mi) Range
  • Autel Explorer app allowing for intelligent flight features & more

We’ve been both humbled and honored by the overwhelmingly positive response to our announcement of the EVO. The EVO’s expected price point at launch is $ 999.00 USD. The launch date for the EVO will be announced as we close in further on our release timeline.

While we are close to launching, we want to ensure that we deliver products that provide the utmost quality and reliability for our customers.

Last year at CES we set some expectations that we did not achieve. We were not able to deliver a high quality, reliable offering with the Thermal and 1” Sensor for our X?Star series. There are many reasons that these units did not come to fruition.

We realize that a big part of meeting our delivery goals for our customers is refining our messaging to ensure that we can always do what we say we will do.

Moving forward with EVO we will focus on that goal of communicating clearly and never overpromising. As such, all we can say for now as to EVO’s release date is “very soon”. We’ll publish details on our website and social media as soon as they are available.

Thank you for all of your support and feedback!

The Autel Robotics Team

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Yuneec’s new Typhoon H Plus drone boasts a 1-inch sensor camera that shoots 4K 60p

11 Jan

Hong Kong drone manufacturer Yuneec has announced three new drones at CES, including an update to the popular Typhoon H that boasts a bigger sensor with more resolution and the ability to shoot 4K at 60fps.

The company is also preparing to move into the fixed-wing category with its Firebird FPV, and take on the racing drone sector with the compact HD Racer.

Yuneec Typhoon H Plus

The Typhon H Plus now uses a 1-inch, 20MP sensor along with a wide aperture lens that results in better low light performance. The company doesn’t specify what the aperture is, but it does say that the lens has a focal length equivalent to that of a 23mm lens on a full frame body. The ISO range runs from 100 to 6400, and shutter speeds of between 4-1/8000sec are possible.

The drone has a flight time of up to 25 minutes and can reach speeds of 13.5 meters per second (just over 30 miles per hour). With six large rotors the hexcopter provides stable flight in winds of up to 30mph, while a new design sees the machine producing 40% less noise.

Yuneec Firebird FPV

For a completely different experience, the fixed-wing Firebird FPV, “enables the user to fly just as if they were in the cockpit of a real airplane.”

The airplane has a 13MP-sensor camera and can also shoot 4K video. It uses a ‘short-latency’ digital video link to stream footage back to Earth in high-definition. The craft is simple to fly and, according to Yuneec, can remain in the air for up to 30 minutes on a single charge.

Yuneec HD Racer

The HD Racer is designed to be a fun, portable quadcopter for use in indoor racing. It has a 13MP camera that can record 1080p video at 60fps, and it has a handy flip-over feature that allows the user to right the craft remotely should it land upside down at any stage.

The Typhon H Plus and Firebird FPV will ship in the first half of 2018 and will cost $ 1,800 and $ 700, respectively. The HD Racer will come out later in the year, and should cost $ 180. For more information on any of these drones, visit the Yuneec website.

Press Release

Yuneec unveils new product releases at CES 2018

Las Vegas (Jan. 09, 2018) – Yuneec entered two new categories with the unveiling of the all-new fixed wing Firebird FPV and all-new HD Racer for a more immersive flight. Additionally, the company announced the second generation of its proven six-rotor hex platform, Typhoon H Plus—its most powerful consumer product yet.

The category expansion and product line advancements are a result of Yuneec’s ongoing commitment to deliver industry leading technologies and pilot-centric features for an unparalleled electric aviation experience.

Typhoon H Plus

Typhoon H Plus is packed with powerful features and professional image quality that photographers at any skill level will enjoy. The second generation of Typhoon H features Yuneec’s all-new, larger, highly stable six rotor hex airframe.

With a 40 percent reduction in noise from previous hex models, and stable flight in winds up to 30mph, H Plus leads its category in stable flight and quiet operation.

Designed with the creative consumer in mind, Typhoon H Plus is equipped with a high aperture one-inch sensor camera capable of 20 megapixel stills and 4K resolution video at 60fps. The new model also boasts an improved low-light performance compared to previous models. A continuous rotation gimbal combined with retractable landing gear provides seamless 360-degree unobstructed views.

Typhoon H Plus comes equipped with Intel® RealSense™ Technology, a sophisticated collision avoidance system that detects obstacles and intelligently navigates around them. With this feature, drone pilots can worry less about obstacles and focus more on their flight path and camera work. Additionally, the Typhoon H Plus is accompanied by a newly redesigned Android-based ST16S controller, which includes a large, high brightness seven-inch integrated display and HD 720p video downlink for stunning real-time video reception.

HD Racer

The HD Racer, Yuneec’s first racing drone, fits in the palm of your hand and once in the air, gives pilots an immersive experience with cutting-edge technology.

Built-in flight stabilization, with beginner and advanced modes, allow any skill level of pilot to experience the nimble, action packed experience of a racing drone. Its compact size, protected blades, and durable construction make it safe to fly indoors.

While in the air, pilots can seamlessly navigate through any obstacle with an optimized, all-digital, low latency HD video downlink. Additionally, pilots can record and share their best racing moments in high resolution 1080p at 60fps. If pilots do catch an obstacle, ‘Flip-Up’ mode automatically uprights the downed HD Racer to maximize flying and minimize downtime.

Firebird FPV

Firebird FPV provides a fully immersive real-time outdoor flight experience, allowing the user to fly as if they were in the cockpit of a real airplane.

The lightweight fixed-wing design extends the flight time to 30 minutes, which allows users to experience the true nature of piloting an aircraft in one continuous journey. Whether soaring the open sky or performing acrobatic maneuvers including inverted flight, rolls and loops, the Firebird FPV elevates the senses for new and experienced pilots alike.

Its operation is simple and easy to fly at any skill level. Pilots can enable Safety Mode to remove all concern of flying too low by making it impossible to descend below the set floor altitude. Pilots will also appreciate Return Home, Geo Fence and Auto Landing capabilities of this easy-to-use fixed wing aircraft.

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WD launches two new portable SSDs designed for photographers and drone users

10 Jan

In addition to revealing the world’s smallest 1TB USB-C flash drive, Western Digital has launched two new portable SSDs specifically designed for “avid photographers and drone enthusiasts” at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD offers both high performance and durability in an extremely portable package, while the My Passport Wireless SSD gives photographers a solid state version of WD’s popular My Wireless Pro, which features built-in WiFi, an SD card slot, and other convenient features for photographers on-the-go.

SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD

The SanDisk Extreme Portable SSD is a lightweight (79g / .17lbs) pocket-sized USB-C drive encased in a durable housing with an IP55 dust- and water-resistant rating. Thanks to the housing, the drive can withstand operating temperatures ranging from 0°C to 45°C (32°F to 113°F), as well as storage temperatures ranging from -20°C to 70°C (-4°F to 158°F).

The Extreme Portable SSD drive has a USB 3.1 Gen 2 interface, read speeds up to 550MB/s, and out-of-the-box compatibility with Windows and macOS.

The drives are currently listed on SanDisk’s website as “not in stock” at the following capacities and price points: 250GB for $ 100, 500GB for $ 170, 1TB for $ 350, and 2TB for $ 700.

WD My Passport Wireless SSD

The My Passport Wireless SSD, as the name suggests, is a solid state version/update to the original My Passport Wireless Pro that we reviewed and actually quite liked.

Housed in an enclosure with an integrated 802.11ac wireless connection, this drive allows users to access content on the drive over WiFi, including streaming 4K videos to a computer or mobile device. The wireless feature works with the My Cloud mobile app, as well as some third-party apps including LumaFusion and FiLMiC Pro.

In addition to wireless access, this My Passport product also has an integrated SD card reader so that photos and videos can be copied onto the SSD directly from the media card at speeds up to 65MB/s. For other types of media cards, the Wireless SSD supports direct transfers via a cable and connected media card adapter. Finally, the drive also features a USB port for transferring content to a computer via USB 3.0 at speeds up to 390MB/s.

Because this model has built-in wireless, Western Digital has packed a 6700mAh battery into the drive case, enabling the WiFi feature to be used for up to 10 hours before it needs to be recharged. And for convenience’ sake, the device’s built-in battery doubles as a power bank for charging other USB devices, such as a smartphone.

The My Passport Wireless SSD will be available in 250GB ($ 230), 500GB ($ 300), 1TB ($ 500), and 2TB ($ 800) capacities. Pre-orders are available now, with shipping estimated to start on February 15th.

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Report: GoPro has laid off 200-300 more staff from its drone division

06 Jan

Californian action camera manufacturer GoPro has laid off between 200 and 300 staff, according to a report by TechCrunch. The report claims the redundancies have been made in the division of the company that builds it aerial offering—the Karma drone—and that GoPro cited a need to “better align our resources with business requirements” as the reason for the layoffs.

GoPro has suffered in recent times, with its share price taking a hammering and profits showing in negative figures. One of the main reasons for this was the much-anticipated Karma drone, which had to be recalled after it was discovered the battery could shake itself loose, causing the device to lose power mid-flight and plummet back to Earth.

The company claims that, since returning to stores, Karma has been the number 2 best-selling drone priced above $ 1,000 in the US for a period of six months up to September 2017. Even so, it would have faced (and still does) stiff competition from former partner DJI.

GoPro’s November report to shareholders announced increased revenue of $ 300 million, up 37% on the same quarter last year, and a gross margin of 40%. The company was in profit too, making $ 15 million against a loss of $ 104 million in the third quarter of 2016. However, the share price has remained low, with current trading at $ 7.51 against a high of $ 90 in October 2014.

After 370 job cuts in 2016 and early 2017 the company stated that it employed 1,327 people, but that number is now set to drop to close to 1,000, according to the TechCrunch report.

GoPro, which has been operating under the name since 2004, hasn’t commented on the claims, but the job losses have come between the end of the financial year (December 31st) and the company’s annual report, which would seem the logical time to do it.

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Modular PITTA camera transforms into drone, action, and security cameras

04 Jan

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PITTA, a modular ball-shaped 13MP camera that transforms into a drone, is currently blasting its way through a campaign on Kickstarter. The small, sphere-shaped modular camera launched on the crowdfunding platform with a $ 50K goal, but as of this writing it has already raised well over a quarter million dollars.

Eyedea, the company behind PITTA, describes its product as a multi-purpose device:

It’s not just aerial, not just handheld, not just wearable or mountable, it’s all of these. It’s a complete system packed into a single device.

Here’s a quick intro video from the company’s Kickstarter:

In its most basic form, PITTA looks like a simple black sphere, which is the 200g/7oz camera body. The sphere-shaped body features a 13MP sensor, support for 4K/30fps recording, and “software image stabilization.” Additionally, the body contains various sensors including GPS/GLONASS, gyroscope, accelerometer, barometer, magnetometer, object detection and visual tracking hardware, and optical flow positioning sensors.

Joining that is an Action Cam Module, Charging Cradle, and Drone Module. When docked in the Charging Cradle, PITTA can be used as a stationary security camera or livestreaming camera.

When used with the Action Module, PITTA can be attached to a tripod or other mount and used as an action camera that supports burst shot, 60fps slow-motion recording, livestreaming, and time lapse, as well as direct sharing to the major social media platforms.

The Drone Module, meanwhile, transforms the camera sphere into a drone via a snap and twist-to-lock design. The resulting camera drone is controlled using a smartphone and companion app, which itself offers several operation modes. PITTA as a drone supports taking panoramas, hovering in place, orbiting around the operator, auto-following the operator, as well as a “Come Back Home” function, terrain awareness, auto-landing, and GPS. The slow-motion and time lapse functions aren’t available in drone mode.

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PITTA is being offered to Kickstarter backers who pledge $ 290 for a Kickstarter Exclusive Basic Kit or $ 320 for a Kickstarter Exclusive Full Package, though other pledge packages are also available. Shipments to backers are expected to start in May 2018, though as with any crowdfunding campaign, plans could change, so proceed with caution.

To learn more or pledge for your own, head over to Kickstarter by clicking here.

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Trump administration reinstates mandatory drone registration

17 Dec

President Trump has signed a bill that reinstates mandatory drone registration in the US, reversing a court ruling from earlier this year that eliminated the requirement. Mandatory drone registration was first established in the U.S. in late 2015 by the FAA, but the requirement was reversed earlier this year by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit after it ruled that the FAA lacked authority over such devices.

The reinstatement was included in the National Defense Authorization Act; although whether or not Trump was aware of its inclusion when he signed the bill into law is unclear.

In a statement provided to TechCrunch, an FAA spokesperson praised the registration requirement, saying:

We welcome the reinstatement of registration rules for all small unmanned aircraft. Ownership identification helps promote safe and responsible drone operation and is a key component to full integration.

Operators in the U.S. must register their drone if it weighs between 0.55lbs and 55lbs. The FAA’s registration website currently states, “You will be subject to civil and criminal penalties if you meet the criteria to register an unmanned aircraft and do not register.” Drones weighing more than 55lbs must be registered by paper rather than online.

The agency provides full aircraft registry details here.

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