Tag Archives: Drone

Azur Drones Spy in the Sky at CES 2018



Up to now, drones have been little more than toys and camera platforms, promising much but delivering little. Working with Directorate General for Civil Aviation, Azure DronesSkeyetech provides “100% autonomous and 24/7 operational drones” as a “security drone solution“. Antoine and Todd talk about the new security guard.

A market leader in France, Azur Drones has developed an airborne surveillance system for the remote monitoring of industrial properties. The system, called Skeyetech, is composed of a smart drone equipped with HD and thermal cameras, and a smart (weather) station which recharges the drones, monitors the weather and provides protection for the craft. Skeyetech drones can be programmed and undertake automated flights, before accurately landing on their docking stations to be recharged.

The docking stations aren’t just power outlets but relay instructions and information from the drones. Consequently, the drones can be controlled remotely making them capable of operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without any human intervention. It comes at a fraction of a cost of traditional video surveillance.

Technically, the drones can fly for 35 minutes before needing recharged for 30 minutes. Top speed is 50 mph and they’re waterproof to IP56. The drones can be configured to patrol premises on a regular basis, or respond to alerts generated by motion sensors.

This isn’t the kind of drone found on the shelves of Best Buy or Fry’s. Interested parties will need upwards of US$100,000.

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

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Skeyetech Autonomous Surveillance Drones at CES 2018



As predicted by sci-fi, the autonomous drone is now a reality. Capable of taking off, patrolling and returning to recharge, Azure DronesSkeyetech provides “100% autonomous and 24/7 operational drones” as a “security drone solution“.

A market leader in France, Azur Drones has developed an airborne surveillance system for the remote monitoring of industrial properties. The system, called Skeyetech, is composed of a smart drone equipped with HD and thermal cameras, and a smart (weather) station which recharges the drones, monitors the weather and provides protection for the craft. Skeyetech drones can be programmed and undertake automated flights, before accurately landing on their docking stations to be recharged.

The docking stations aren’t just power outlets but relay instructions and information from the drones. Consequently, the drones can be controlled remotely making them capable of operating 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without any human intervention. It comes at a fraction of a cost of traditional video surveillance.

Technically, the drones can fly for 35 minutes before needing recharged for 30 minutes. Top speed is 50 mph and they’re waterproof to IP56. The drones can be configured to patrol premises on a regular basis, or respond to alerts generated by motion sensors.

It was inevitable that somebody somewhere would develop this kind of technology, but is anyone else as uneasy about these as I am? Will we be seeing tasers on the drones next?

You can learn more about the rise of the machines at CES 2018 at Sands, Eureka Park Marketplace, Booth #50862.


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.


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.


PowerVision’s Underwater Drone is Exploring the Deep at CES



PowerVision LogoAerial drones and quadcopters have been mainstream items for a few years now. It seems like every day, amazing new videos are posted online of landscapes, cities, or large events. While everything happening on the ground is being recorded from the air, there’s another part of the planet that’s being completely ignored: Under water.

Todd had a chat with Merlin at the PowerVision booth. Merlin talked about his company’s impressive new underwater drone. This drone uses a 100-foot tether that can go up to 30 meters deep. The drone comes with integrated lights and a 4K video camera that can take 13 megapixel photos. The drone also has a built-in sonar to help find fish. There’s even an attached fishing hook that can carry bait to help lure hungry fish to the drone’s location.

PowerVision’s new underwater drone will go on sale at the end of next month, and begin shipping in the spring quarter. Pricing has not yet been announced.

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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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