CES 2016: Going Through the Looking Glass

By Kathleen Hickey

I was in Las Vegas last year during CES, but only for a day, and I did not attend. As I walked around Vegas, mainly shopping, I saw groups of CES badge wearers, and thought how amazing it would be to actually attend.

Fast forward eight months later, and I had started my blog. I registered for CES in October, and I'll say that the email confirming my registration was one of the best I had received that year. I was in, and three short months later, I was in Las Vegas, standing on the showroom floor.  

CES is a trade only event, and has various requirements to attend. Attendees are asked to provide credentials in advance to verify that they are affiliated with the consumer technology industry. It takes place in several locations throughout Las Vegas, including the Las Vegas Convention Center, and a number of hotels. Those locations were named "Tech East," "Tech South" and on, so they would be easy to find, and navigate through. Vendors were separated into categories based on  the type of technology they represent. DJI was under "Digital Imaging/Photography", and "Other Consumer Technology". There was not a specific Drone, UAS, UAV category. Most of my time was spent in Tech East, where the UAV and drone technology was located.

My first stop was at DJI. As always, they had an amazing booth, which featured all of their products and platforms. The new OSMO, released in October was a feature at the booth. OSMO is a handheld gimbal which features digital imaging, and advanced 3-axis stabilization system making it the first of its kind in a handheld camera. With OSMO, you can capture images with timelapse, tripod free long exposure, and 360 automatic panorama. The OSMO comes with the Zenmuse X3 camera, and provides 4K video at 24, 25, or or 30 frames per second. CES attendees had an opportunity to borrow the OSMO for an hour to document their CES experience. It was also featured with the new Zenmuse X5 camera.

DJI offered attendees the chance to take a DJI New Pilot Experience class, which took place in a remote location, about 30 minutes away from the convention center. Attendees could sign up for a specific class time slot, and were taken by bus to the location. Also featured was the newest addition to the Phantom Series, the Phantom 3 4K which is the only one in the series to offer 4K video and Wi-Fi connectivity for live video feed.

Also on hand was the Inspire 1 Pro Raw with the Zenmuse X5 in black (try saying that three times fast). Which is perfect for pilots that want to fly on the dark side.

My next big stop was at Yuneec which unveiled the new Typhoon H at CES. 

One of the most exciting things about the Typhoon H, would be its autonomous features. The sense and avoid technology, which allows the Typhoon H to detect when large objects are in its way was highlighted, and well as its Journey, Orbit, Curved Cable, and Point of Interest Modes. It also features retractable landing gear, and a 4K Camera. The Typhoon H is not yet available for purchase, but is believed to retail for around $1,799, which is less than other leading drones with similar features. Yuneec has become a leader in the drone industry, through advanced technology and competitive pricing. I'm looking forward to seeing the Typhoon H at work, and what's in the future for Yuneec. 

Another notable drone was the Hexo+. It seems to fit somewhere between a standard drone, and the Lily, which sees itself more in the GoPro market than drones. The Hexo+ is controlled by an App on your smartphone, although it is also RC compatible. The Hexo+ tracking feature, and 45 MPH maximum speed make it more idea for people that would want a drone for extreme sports, and other action based activities. 

Ehang unveiled a single passenger drone, Ehang184 which is an Autonomous Aerial Vehicle (AAV) that can fly for about 20 minutes, and carry a person up to 260 pounds. Of course their are many considerations, (and laws), to be considered before something like Ehang184 could come to market, but it was very impressive to see in person, and something that we may have to look forward to in the future. 

Another amazing booth, and one of my favorites at CES came from Parrot. Although drones are just part of the Parrot family, which includes headphones, Bluetooth devices, robots, and even something that helps you water your plants, Drones were a focal point. 

Taking center stage was the the Parrot Disco, the first "Ready To Fly" Fixed-Wing drone. It has a 45 minute flight time due to a 2700mAh battery. It also has embedded ground sensors, detachable wings for transport, and automatic takeoff, landing and return home modes.  

Parrot also offered attendees an amazing show, with choreographed autonomous drones within their flight cage. It was colorful, fun, and full of life. Also on hand was the Bebop 2, and an FPV compatible Skycontroller. 

Going to CES truly felt like stepping into another world. There was so much to see, and participate in. It was incredible to see all of the new technology, and not just in drones, but in various tech fields. Information is already up for CES 2017. There is an email sign up that will let you know when registration is open. I will be posting tips and things to know when planning your trip to CES for next year. If you'd like to see more pictures, they are available on my Adventures Page! Thank you CES for a wonderful time. I'll see you next year...

Happy Flying

Me with my badge. I put it on as soon as I got it. Maybe not the cool expo move, but I was too excited to not have it on. Although I still wonder about what Services I'm Providing...

Me with my badge. I put it on as soon as I got it. Maybe not the cool expo move, but I was too excited to not have it on. Although I still wonder about what Services I'm Providing...

DJI OSMO with the Zenmuse X5 camera and additional accessories. Available through the  DJI Website . 

DJI OSMO with the Zenmuse X5 camera and additional accessories. Available through the DJI Website

The new Phantom 3 4K

The new Phantom 3 4K

Inspire 1 Pro Raw with the Zenmuse X5 in black

Inspire 1 Pro Raw with the Zenmuse X5 in black

Yuneec Typhoon H

Yuneec Typhoon H

Part of the Yuneec booth at CES

Part of the Yuneec booth at CES

Hexo+

Hexo+

Ehang184 AAV

Ehang184 AAV

Parrot Booth

Parrot Booth

Parrot Disco: CES Innovation Award Honoree - Unmanned Systems and Accessories.

Parrot Disco: CES Innovation Award Honoree - Unmanned Systems and Accessories.

Parrot flight cage with the Disco

Parrot flight cage with the Disco

Dear Holiday Drone Shoppers...

By Kathleen Hickey

In a snap and a flash, it's over. Thanksgiving has come and gone, and takes with it - Black Friday. Many shops and websites had some amazing deals on drones. Did you take advantage of it? Do you wish you had? Do you think you bought that special someone the drone of their dreams? Did you buy yourself a drone of your dreams? Are you waiting for Cyber Monday? Here are a few things you should know before you give give the gift of a drone, to yourself, or someone you love.  

And I know that it's a lot to go through, and there's not a good amount of falala in rules, but if you or someone you know would like to take on the responsibility of owning a drone, it's important stuff to read through. 

Nothing Says Happy Holidays Like Regulations

It is estimated that a million drones will be sold this holiday season. Regulation can be a scary word. So can National Airspace, and Federal. And you know what, it should make a person stop and think a little. As much as some people would like to consider drones a toy, most of them are not. Drones are tools. They are very fun, addictive, useful, and can create beautiful images, and let the pilot explore a new perspective, but they can also be dangerous if not used correctly, or under the right circumstances. 

On November 21st, the FAA released the findings of a special UAS (Unmanned Aircraft System) Registration Task Force. The Task Force was comprised of various members from 27 companies and organizations that ranged from DJI, to the Consumer Technology Association, and the American Association of Airport Executives. The group was given three days to come up with suggested registration requirements for drones. Here's a breakdown of some of their suggestions:

  • UAS that weigh under 55 pounds (55 lbs and over already require registration), and above 250 grams (8.82 oz) will require registration.
  • Registration is not required at point of sale, because the operator of the UAS in the National Airspace System (NAS) is the responsible party to register.
  • Citizenship is not required for registration, and the minimum age to register is 13, (although many drones have a suggested age for use, so always check before purchasing a drone for a minor).  
  • They suggest registration should be free, but in the case a fee is required, they suggest that it's a penny. 
  • Registration can be done online, and DOES NOT require an outside company to process. There are companies already trying to take money from people to "help" with registration of drones. That is not needed. 
  • Operator will have to show proof of registration when asked (I imagine like a fishing licence). 

These are recommendations, and while it's fairly certain that the FAA will put a system of registration in place, The firm details have not yet been provided. If you'd like to read the full summary, you can do so here. There is a summary at the end, so if the drone talk has you scratching your head, you can check the last two pages. The FAA has also come out with a Safety Checklist so if you're giving a drone as a gift, it would be a great idea to print it out, and include it in your card. 

Safety First

Once you put your drone in the air, you are part of the U.S. aviation system. You are considered a pilot, and your drone is an aircraft. There are very strict and harsh penalties for not following flight laws. Not sure what those rules are? Take a look at Know Before You Fly, for safety guidelines. 

Now, have you may have seen some really cool things done with drones. Like maybe...

  • Flying at night.
  • Flying over animals (especially endangered ones).
  • Flying over groups of people.
  • Flying around power lines, airports, stadiums, freeways, and other heavily populated areas.
  • Pools, and beaches, and backyards with people getting some sun.

DO NOT DO ANY OF THESE THINGS!

What you may see from other drone operators, and what you can actually do are two separate things. Some drone operators have exemptions, and have asked special permission to take various shots. Some have contacted local authorities, as well as airports, so they can fly in what normally is a no fly zone. At times, a special group may ask a drone operator to assist in researching groups of animals. Different countries also have different flight laws. And some people are just breaking the rules. If you see something on Instagram or Twitter, it's not a green light to do the same. 

There are various tools to help pilots determine if they are in a no fly zone. Some drones have indicators that will let you know if you are not in an area that you can fly in. There are also Apps that indicate no fly zones. 

There are also temporary no fly zones, for special events, and times you should not fly due to bad weather conditions. It's also important to read the owners manual for your particular drone, and follow the manufactures pre flight instructions, and checklists. 

You Can't Always Take It Back

Drones are expensive. There's not just the initial cost, but everything else you have to buy to go with it. Make sure you fully understand the return policy, and warranty from the retailer you are buying your drone from. It's also important to note that it's possible to have an accident or crash, which is usually not covered by retailers. 

It's also important to note that there have been many thefts of drones from retailers, and not just one drone, but thousands of dollars worth. If you see a drone on Craigslist or Amazon, and the price just seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always purchase your drone from an authorized retailer. It will also guarantee that you will receive the help you need if any issues come up. 

Last But Not Least

Have fun! Have some good - responsible - safe - regulation compliant - non alcoholic - Know Before You Fly Fun. 

If anyone is a "good-time" person, I am. But I want to make sure anyone buying a drone is aware of the responsibility, and neighborly etiquette, before flying. The drone community is always happy to help anyone that wants to learn how to do it right.  Please join all of the responsible pilots, and be a good example. And as always...

Happy Flying





Want to Fly a Drone? There's an App for That

By Kathleen Hickey

So, you've found the perfect drone and you're ready to go out and fly. You've taken a look at Know Before You Fly, and perhaps you've taken the quiz to find out how safe a pilot you are. Flying a drone can be a really exciting, and fun experience. 

If you're new to flying, or a seasoned pro, drone Apps are a great resource. From flight logs, to weather information, safety, and airspace maps, downloading the right App can help you get the most out of flying. Some also have an aspect of community, through forums, and information sharing. Connecting with other pilots is a great way to become an engaged member of the drone community by sharing tips, flight information, and of course beautiful aerial photography. Here are a few great Apps, with some highlighted features. 

Hover:

Hover is one of the most popular Apps for commercial, and recreational pilots. It is very easy to use, and covers a wide range of helpful tools and information. Here are a few features:

  • Weather Data: Information includes wind speed (to avoid a Mary Poppins moment with your drone), local weather, KP-Index, current temperature, and more.
  • Flight Readiness Indicator: To let you know if its safe to fly in certain areas, or under certain weather conditions. 
  • Airspace Map: Allows you to see if you are in a no-fly area.
  • News Feed: Keep up to date on drone news, (when you can't look at my blog of course).Hover

Kittyhawk:

Kittyhawk is a beautifully designed App. It allows users to track individual flight information, with an option to join or create teams. Sharing information with friends, and other pilots is a great way to learn, and feel like part of a community when you fly. Here are a few features:

  • Flight Information: Record flights on Kittyhawk's cloud database. Keep track of flight time, battery cycles, and location information. 
  • Socially Friendly: Share information such as flight notes with your team. Support and learn from others by seeing their flight information. Make it fun by competing against your friends on various parts of your flights, like amount of air time. 
  • Fleet: Have more than one drone, or drones from different companies? Add your entire fleet to the App. 

UAV Zones:

UAV Zones is a basic location map. It allows the user to see no-fly zones in the immediate area. Although there are no additional features, it's a simple way to see if the flight area is restricted. UAV Zones had a recent update to fix a bug for startup crashes, which occurred on 11/6/15.

  • Location Indicator: Color indication of no-fly zones.

DJI GO:

DJI GO is specific to DJI Inspire 1, Phantom 3, Matrice 100, and a new feature for the OSMO. The DJI remote controller allows the user to attach a mobile device to view what the camera is capturing in real-time. DJI has additional available Apps for their own devices to optimize each flying experience.  Here are a few features:

  • Real-time flight record.
  • Remote video and photo capture with gimbal control. 
  • Instant video and photo sharing. 
  • Video tutorials.

3DR Solo:

3DR Solo is specific to the 3DR Solo Drone. The App allows the user to have live HD feed as well as access to flight features with a simple touch. There are available support options, and the App is very easy to use. Here are a few features:

  • Access to flight settings and a satellite map view.
  • Live wireless HD view from the Solo GoPro.
  • Smart Shots: Single touch ability to use 3DR Solo orbit, follow, selfie, and cable cam features.
  • Flight school video tutorials. 
  • Wireless updates.

Apps are a great tool, and can be helpful for a fun flying experience. Although Apps have no-fly zone maps, it's important to always use sound judgement when flying. There may also be temporary no-fly zones, which may not show up on an App. Although they can also be useful to track equipment, it's always important to go through flight checks before flying, to ensure the drone, batteries, and any other components are not damaged, and in full working order. 

Each App has various features, and benefits. Just as it was important to recognize specific needs when purchasing a drone, it's important to consider what information and options are the best for individual flying needs when picking an APP. The good news is that all of these are free! There is no harm in checking them out, and picking the one, or more than one that works best to create the best possible experience. 

Happy Flying!

 

 

New Pilot Experience

By Kathleen Hickey

The New Pilot Experience is offered by DJI, and facilitated by its authorized partners. Registration opens one month before the event, and closes a week before the event date. After online registration is complete, each participant will receive an email invitation from the authorized partner. Space is limited, so it's possible that not everyone signing up, will receive a confirmation email. 

The current class highlights the DJI Phantom. There is also a brief overview of other products, such as the Inspire 1, Ronin, Spreading Wings, and OSMO. There is a comparison of the Phantom 3 Series models, and a features overview, as well as information about the DJI App. The class itself is an hour long, with a flight demonstration, and hands-on flight experience. 

There was DJI swag, and a raffle to win various discounts on the purchase of a Phantom. Giveaways, and discounts may vary by retailer. If you can't make it to one of the events, there is a downloadable guide available. Here are a few pictures from the event I attended. 

Happy Flying!