Category Archives: drone

DJI Introduces Voluntary Flight Identification Options for Drone Pilots



DJI is introducing new features to the DJI AeroScope remote identification system that functions as an “electronic license plate” for drones. The new features allow drone pilots to voluntarily identify their flight operations to authorities while still protecting their privacy.

AeroScope is a system that remotely identifies and tracks airborne drones, allowing law enforcement and aviation safety officials to respond to safety and security concerns about drones. DJI drones locally broadcast their location, speed, heading, and serial numbers to AeroScope receivers used by authorities at sensitive locations or in response to complaints. However, they do not broadcast personally identifiable information.

Recent updates to the DJI GO 4 app and DJI drone firmware, made available first for the DJI Mavic Pro last week, will allow pilots to choose whether or not to broadcast additional information about their flight operations, if they believe it will be helpful to ease any concerns about their flights. Professional pilots and pilots who fly near sensitive locations may choose to do this routinely.

AeroScope addresses the needs of authorities who know that most drone flights are harmless, but who are concerned and must be vigilant about tracking risky or illegal drone activity near airport runways, prisons and other sensitive locations. AeroScope also provides authorities with a tool to respond to complaints about individual drone usages and to investigate further.

Because AeroScope relies on drones directly broadcasting their information to local receivers, not on transmitting data to an internet-based service, it ensures most drone flights will not be automatically recorded in government databases, protecting the privacy interests of people and businesses that use drones. This approach also avoids substantial costs and complexity that would be involved in creating such databases and connecting drones to network systems.


DJI to Showcase Two New Drones and Unique Sphere Mode



DJI has introduced two new drones, the Mavic Pro Platinum and Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian, and announced the “Sphere” mode for the Spark at IFA 2017 in Berlin.

The DJI Mavic Pro Platinum takes all of the advanced features of the Mavic Pro which revolutionized personal flight and builds on them. It is ideal for travelers, amateur photographers and outdoor sports enthusiasts.

With an 11 percent gain in flight time taking it up 30 minutes coupled with a 60% noise power reduction, the Mavic Pro Platinum provides the best portable drone experience yet. Additionally, the drone’s compact and powerful body has also been created with an attractive platinum colored shell.

Pilots of the Mavic Pro Platinum benefit from a portable, powerful, and easy-to-use camera drone that features a 4K stabilized camera, 4.3 mile (7km) range, innovative FlightAutonomy technology to sense obstacles up to 49ft (15m) away and a range of intelligent flight modes that make it extremely fun and easy to fly.

The DJI Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian is the professional drone photographer’s perfect tool. It now has a sleek matte-gray Obsidian color shell featuring a magnesium, electroplated, and anti-fingerprint coated gimbal which requires a higher standard manufacturing technique.

For professionals who demand excellence while capturing images and video for a commercial client, the Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian has a large 1” CMOS sensor and a 4K 60fps recording capability to ensure a professional outcome in any situation.

DJI Spark lets you capture stunning “Sphere” panorama images. Spark is an easy-to-use, fun-to-fly mini camera drone that lifts off from the palm of your hand to capture and share those special moments on the go. Spark is the first consumer drone that users can control by hand gestures alone.

With the newly introduced Sphere mode in the Panorama photo feature, users now have more ways to enjoy the Spark and can easily produce a panoramic photo with a fisheye lens effect. This “Sphere” can then be shared directly to social media sites, some of which already support interactive images. The new feature will be included in the forthcoming DJI GO 4 mobile app and Spark firmware updates.

With a retail price of $1,099, the Mavic Pro Platinum is available for pre-order immediately at store.dji.com and will begin shipping in September. The Mavic Pro Fly More Combo will be available at a later date with a retail price of $1,399. Phantom 4 Pro Obsidian will retail for $1,499 and will also be available in September at the DJI Store online and at DJI Flagship Stores and authorized dealers worldwide.


Japan Operating First-Ever Space Drone



Japan DroneIf you’re like me, you were probably hoping that the first news about a Japanese space robot would come complete with footage of a giant humanoid mecha that shoots laser beams from its eyes. Unfortunately, that day hasn’t yet arrived. But the first stepping stone to an intergalactic robot army might just be here in the adorable form of Japan’s new ball-shaped space drone.

The drone, known as Int-Ball (sorry, Japan, but Tranzor Z would’ve been a way cooler name), was designed by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to monitor the activities of astronauts on the International Space Station. Int-Ball is controlled by ground crews, who can use the drone’s camera to get a better view of astronauts as they work on daily tasks.

Some Int-Ball features:

  • The drone can move autonomously in space and record still and moving images under remote control by the JAXA Tsukuba Space Center
  • Recorded images and videos can be checked in real time by flight controllers and researchers on the ground, and then be fed back to the onboard crew
  • Int-Ball was adapted from existing drone technology, and all of its parts can be 3-D printed

At first pass, it might seem like Int-Ball was created to spy on astronauts and make sure they aren’t slacking off on the job. But it turns out astronauts spend a lot of time using cameras to document their work. Int-Ball removes the need for astronauts to do this, and it’s estimated that the drone could give astronauts a 10% productivity bump. These types of improvements are welcome in an environment like the space station, where maximizing mission time is crucial.


DJI Delivers Spark Mini Drone to First Wave of Customers



DJI, the world leader in civilian drones and aerial imaging technology, is delivering its exciting new Spark mini drone to the first wave of purchasers, with shipments arriving in stores and homes around the world.

Spark is a full-featured drone that fits in almost any bag, ready to launch within seconds to shoot 12-megapixel photos and 1080p videos stabilized with a two-axis mechanical gimbal. It packs an obstacle sensing system and automated flight modes into its soda can-sized body – and can launch from your palm and be controlled by hand gestures alone.

New Spark owners should immediately upgrade the firmware in their drones to take advantage of important new features based on early feedback. The new firmware provides more flexibility by recognizing the selfie gestures right after launching the aircraft from the palm when most of the pilot’s body appears in the frame. Selfies can still be taken from a longer distance after waving and sending Spark away several feet.

In addition, the firmware upgrade provides more ways to control Spark’s flight through the DJI GO 4 app on a mobile device. Based on feedback from early reviewers, the new firmware upgrade allows Spark pilots using mobile devices to smoothly adjust the maximum distance it will fly in some of the QuickShot intelligent flight modes – from 30 feet to 160 feet in Rocket mode, 200 feet in Dronie mode, and 250 feet in Helix mode.


NODE Is an Advocacy Group for Drone Pilots



NODE LogoRemote-piloted drone aircraft are becoming more commonplace. Once, drones were only the domain of government agencies with big money to spend. But the advent of smaller craft, such as quadcopters, has opened up drone usage to anyone with the time and money to take up drone piloting.

As drones have become more popular, it was only a matter of time before more rules and regulations would be implemented to direct how, when and, where these aircraft can be used. In response to increasing government oversight of private drone use, a group called the Network of Drone Enthusiasts (NODE) has formed to advocate for the rights and interests of drone users:

The Network of Drone Enthusiasts (NODE) is a coalition of drone users and manufacturers dedicated to ensuring fair and responsible drone regulations. NODE makes room for safer skies, but also provides a voice for those participating in the advancement of new technology, which benefits millions worldwide.

Legislators have introduced regulations that greatly impact our ability to fly our drones. However, since these regulations are often overreaching and inconsistent, these guidelines are often misinterpreted and cause confusion.

NODE is currently working on two campaigns on behalf of its members. The first is in Canada, where regulators recently imposed recreational flight restrictions that threaten the future of drone use within the country. The second campaign is focused on the city of Richmond, CA, where officials are proposing new drone ordinances that could be confusing and detrimental to drone users.

If you’re a drone enthusiast and would like to get involved with NODE, you can join the group here.


Drone n’ Base is The Gaming Drone at CES



There are plenty of drones that can be used to take videos from the air or to take aerial photos.  That’s great for photographers, but doesn’t do much for gamers.  Drone n’ Base has created The Gaming Drone.  Use these little drones to play augmented reality video games.

Todd spoke with Matus, who explained what The Gaming Drone can do.  There are two styles of video game that you can play with The Gaming Drone.  One is an augmented reality game where you play against a computer.  You control your physical drone and battle the computer’s drone that is inside the game.

The other video game is a multiplayer race and battle.  Each player places a game board on the floor, and flies his or her drone over it.  This enables the player to race and battle with other players in the video game.

The Gaming Drone by Drone n’ Base is priced at $199.  Each package comes with one drone, one base, and two batteries.

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Flir Duo Flies with Autel at CES



Flir created a minor sensation few years ago with the Flir One thermal imaging attachment for smartphones costing only a few hundred bucks. Building on this, Flir have launched the Duo, a dual sensor compact camera designed to be carried by drones. John gives Todd a quick demo of the new Duo and see if you can spot the GNC cameraman.

The Flir Duo combines both visible light and thermal sensors into a single camera which can be carried by any drone that attaches GoPro cameras.  The visible resolution is full HD at 1920 x 1080, whereas the thermal camera is only 160 x 120. This might seem poor but the resolution of thermal imaging tends to be much lower. Flir has a nice trick called MSX blending where the visible and thermal images are combined to give more detailed pictures. There’s a demo here.

There a two versions, the Duo and Duo R, with the latter providing calibrated radiometric temperature measurements, i.e. it can tell accurately how hot an object is. The Duo is priced at US$999 and the Duo R is $1,299. Available now.

Flir have partnered with drone makers Autel Robotics and paired their Duo with the X-Star Premium drone for an all-in-one package including customised flight software. Oddly the package appears to be available only to US military and no word on price.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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