The DJI FPV drone won’t be a racing drone. Or will it…?

If you’re experienced with drone racing, all it takes is one look at the leaked photos of DJI’s forthcoming FPV drone to realize it’s not going to compete with stripped-down, steroid-fuelled racing drones that can easily hit speeds well over 100 miles per hour (the Guinness World Record is just shy of 180 mph). But that doesn’t mean people won’t want to race their DJI FPV drones.

From the start, we’ve said DJI’s FPV will be a hybrid, not a racing drone. But it will have Rate mode and be able to be controlled the same way as an FPV racer. It’s just going to be too heavy and bulky to win any races, at least not when pitted against the latest and greatest builds. Yet there’s going to be a new group of pilots, potentially a very large group of pilots, who will be flying these new products.
And yes, some of those people are going to want to race.
“Stock” racing
If you’re familiar with Drone Racing League, or DRL, you’ll know that the pilots race against each other with identical machines. That’s great because then it really comes down to the skill of the individual pilots. With all other things being equal, it really is all about the pilot.
It also means there are, regularly, some incredibly tight races:
[embedded content]
These races are fast – and incredibly close…
DLR: DJI Racing League?
So let’s assume DJI sells a ton of this new product. Let’s also assume there are plenty of people who would love to race but know that they’d be dead last if up against the kinds of drones you just saw in that video.
Well, why not have some races restricted solely to stock DJI FPV drones?

Could these be raced against each other? Why not?
We don’t know how fast these new machines will fly, but they’ll certainly be faster than, say, a Mavic Air 2 – which is probably of a similar size to the new FPV drone. And people love competition.
Will someone set up a DJI FPV Drone Racing League? Who knows. But you can bet there will be informal races popping up in major centers around the world, even if it’s only a few friends getting together and racing for bragging rights.
Would DJI be interested in sponsoring something like this? Again, we don’t know – and DJI never comments on any products prior to their release. But you’d think a robust racing network might be a great way to raise the product’s profile – and also help fuel sales.

Zoom, zoom…
Mind you, we don’t think DJI is going to have an issue with sales. In fact, we would not be surprised if these things sell out – though it does appear that their release date was bumped, which gives the company time to really stockpile new product before the green light.
What about you?
We’d be keen to take part in a race like this. Would you? Let us know what you think – pros and cons – in the comments below!

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Check out this “rhomboidal” drone wing design

We stumbled across a pretty intriguing wing design the other day – along with a company that plans to put it into a drone. Let’s just say it’s unlike any traditional design you’ve likely seen before.

Not surprisingly, there are a ton of different wing designs out there for fixed-wing aircraft. There are different shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: They need to provide lift. They do so by forcing air to move faster over the top surface, which causes a pressure differential between the top and bottom of the wing. With lower pressure on top and higher pressure below the wing, it’s effectively pushed up, lifting the wing and the aircraft attached to it.
That principle is a constant in all wing designs. What differs are the various shapes of wings.
A very unusual wing
A company called FLY-R UAS has been working on building a UAS that takes advantage of something called a Rhomboidal Wing. Here’s how they describe it:
“A rhomboidal wing is part of the closed-wing family. It is characterized by the shape of diamond on the 3 axis and the absence of a vertical control surface. The advantages of this wing over a conventional wing (cantilever) of similar performances are:
“wingspan reduced by about half;
“reduced aerodynamic drag;
“structural mass decreased by one-third;
“wide range of speed;
“high and relatively constant lift/drag ratio;
“high maneuverability.”
What does a Rhomboidal Wing it look like?
Very, very different from what we might call more conventional wings. Have a look at this image, from FLY-R’s website:

Pretty intriguing, no? Yes.
About FLY-R UAS
This company hadn’t hit our radar yet, but it’s pretty interesting. Formed in 2013, three experienced UAV engineers are at its core. The firm is located on the French island of Réunion – a volcanic island off the southeastern coast of Africa – not too far east of Madagascar. It’s a pretty remote location:

The red circle marks the spot…
It’s website says it’s developing a total of five different rhomboidal wing UAVs:
The first two aircraft, the R2-150 and the R2-240, have the unique capability of autonomous ship-based operation using a vacuum launcher and an autonomous recovery system. These ancillaries, launcher system and recovery system, are also innovative products developed by our company.

The first two aircraft, the R2-150 and the R2-240, have the unique capability of autonomous ship-based operation using a vacuum launcher and an autonomous recovery system. These ancillaries, launcher system and recovery system, are also innovative products developed by our company. The latter two aircraft, the R2-400 and the R2-600, are mainly suited to defense missions. They belong in the category of ‘MALE’ UAVs (Medium Altitude/Long Endurance). Finally, the R2-HSTD, is a high-speed target drone offering a realistic and cost-effective training tool for surface defence and air combat training.
FLY-R Website

Here’s a look at the R2-150:

That is one very unique wing design…
We’ll keep you posted
This wing really intrigues us. We’ll keep an eye on FLY-R, and hope to see some videos on the horizon of one of these aircraft in flight.

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Reader’s FPV video: Slow, steady… and affordable

You’ve seen how we like to highlight videos from our readers. Well, recently we asked people if you had work you’d like featured. Tons of you took the time to fill out this form (and you’re still welcome to do so). Today’s selection doesn’t feature crazy skills… but it does feature solid flying and a great subject.

We were really gratified to see how many people were interested in having their work posted to DroneDJ. We’ve been carefully poring through the submissions. And one of the things that has already struck us is the range of subjects that people will choose for their FPV videos. There’s always the free styling park video, with amazing aerobatics that seem to miss branches and playground equipment by bare inches. There are the majestic, landscape-focused shots featuring mountains, waterfalls, etc… plus a ton of others in both urban and rural settings.
Today’s caught our eye for a couple of different reasons.
You don’t need to race
People into the world of CineWhoops already know this, but you don’t need to be a speed demon to make a great video. Sometimes, slow and steady does win the race. And from the large pile we’re sifting through, this video from Richard Chang of Los Angeles caught our attention for a couple of reasons.
For starters, Richard was flying a BETAFPV 95X (about $179). This little CineWhoop-style drone can carry either a naked action camera like the new SMO 4K (about $239) or the Insta360 GO. It’s small and agile, but that doesn’t mean it has to be flown like you’re in a Red Bull air race. (I actually own one of these; love its size and abilities – though I do not yet fly as well as Richard.)

The latest iteration of the BETA95X series
In the video you’re about to see, Richard didn’t try to break the speed limit. But he did pull together a nice series of controlled shots at an interesting location in East LA, coupled with a soundtrack that fits these visuals perfectly. We also really like how he flew down the street at the opening of this video, to help establish the subject.
Have a look – and a listen!
[embedded content]
Nice job, Richard
More about Richard
We asked Richard a few questions, including how long he’s been flying. He actually started flying about eight months ago, basically after the pandemic broke out.

I started flying because COVID-19 crushed the industry I work in [restaurant] and I needed something to keep me sane/busy,” he says. “I’m currently teaching my boys to fly and they’re enjoying it very much. FPV has impacted my life for the better!

What’s the personal appeal for you of flying drones?

In addition to being a hobby that can lead to a career or business it’s one of the most gratifying and satisfying feelings being in the air after building a quad. Also, the never-ending progression of personal growth.

Any tips for those who’d like to start building?

Figure out what kind of quad you want to build, enroll in YouTube University, search for budget builds. Oh, get some Mamba practice soldering boards.

What advice do you have for new pilots to make better videos?

Get as much stick time as possible and record everything. Understand what everyone else is doing and find your own style.

Thanks, Richard!
We enjoyed Richard’s video and answers very much. His YouTube channel is under the name QuadroCinco, and you can subscribe here.
Stay tuned; we’ll continue to feature awesome reader content.
If you’d like to be considered – and, please, if you have a good video you think would be a fit here – you can fill out our form here.

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Flying an FPV simulator? Follow the instructions…

You’ve likely heard that old saying: “Do as I say, not as I do.” Well, it’s very relevant to this story about FPV piloting, simulators, and maximizing your learning curve.

There’s a lesson in this story – and one that I learned the hard way. So if you’re interested in learning how to fly an FPV, hopefully, you can also learn from my mistakes. I’m on the right track now, but it’s taken me some time to get here. So settle back, and I’ll tell you what I did wrong… and what I did right.
Hopefully, it will help you. That’s the point of this post.
My convoluted path to FPV
I’ve nibbled around the edges of FPV for several years now but would not call myself an FPV pilot. My early efforts were focussed indoors (and out) with a couple of Bind and Fly products. I can’t remember which came first, but a lot of my early efforts involved these two products: The Blade Inductrix (a copy of the original Tiny Whoop), and the Blade Nano 2.

The Blade Inductrix was a fun but docile way to blast around the house

The Blade FPV Nano was also part of my early FPV curriculum…
Flying indoors and out
These were both really useful tools, and the Blade Inductrix really got a workout. I flew that in the house so often I could actually navigate pretty much the whole home. And yes, it absolutely helped me get a sense of flying FPV. But it was also easy to fly – perhaps too easy. My recollection (it’s been a couple of years now) is that this little drone always self-leveled. You didn’t have to be as vigilant on the sticks as you do with an FPV outdoors. And, let’s face it, there’s a real difference between flying a docile drone indoors and something badass and fast out in the wild.
The Blade Nano was fun but quirky; it started wanting to flip during flight and then wound up back in its box in a closet.
More indoor flying – the TinyHawk
When I got back into it again, it was with a radio upgrade (Taranis X7S) and an Emax Tinyhawk drone. I’d probably been away from trying FPV for about a year at that point, so it took time to get back in the swing of it. But once I got there, the Tiny Hawk was great. It was also capable of flying in Rate mode, which requires more constant stick vigilance and is much closer to the true FPV experience.
I got better, for sure – and took the TinyHawk outside when I could. But I was still worried that if I took out a much faster quad in the field that I’d crash it. And sure, crashing is part of the FPV experience. But I knew I wouldn’t just crash it; I was likely to destroy it.

The Emax TinyHawk
So, with that psychological barrier, I was kind of stuck. Even flying with the excellent BETAFPV racing kit, an all-in-one good for indoors or out, I felt like I’d hit a wall (which I actually still did, on occasion). But seriously, while I could fly easily from room to room, trying to fly low, fast circuits always seemed to result in a crash. If I flew slowly and sedately, I was fine; anything really ambitious ended in disaster.
After a certain amount of time, the inability to push things to the next level got frustrating. And so I decided to take the advice of two excellent FPV pilots whom I trust: Work on a simulator.
And here’s the start of my mistake
I’d actually purchased a copy of Velociraptor like two years ago. I tried it once or twice, found it frustrating, and forgot about it. But then, a few weeks ago, I finally made the mental decision that 2021 would be the year when I learn to fly FPV, with fast drones, outdoors. I charged up my Taranis and launched Velociraptor.
I loaded up the first course, a series of gates set inside a football stadium. I looked at the advanced settings, which looked really complicated. And so, like many guys, I just ignored that part and pushed on. I revved the throttle gently, pitched forward, and ran straight into the gate. Over and over, I tried…but the simulator was much harder than flying indoors had been, or at least was for me.
Plus – though I didn’t know it then – I was in Horizon mode, where the drone was self-leveling.
Here’s the mistake, full-blown…
I set a goal, based on what I’d heard from a pilot who’d started from scratch, to dedicate 60 hours to the simulator. It sounded like a lot, but I decided to just grit my teeth and dive in.

I recognize this page…
It took time, hours, but eventually, I was getting through those gates most of the time. But whenever I added some speed? Well, it would all fall apart. I figured this was simply my inexperience and lack of attuned muscle memory. So I kept pushing on. I tried some adjustments on the quad settings. But – and I’m being totally honest here – didn’t really know what I was doing. I mean, obviously, I had some idea what I was doing. But it was mostly guesswork.
So I stumbled along, successfully softening some parameters through a combination of intuition and luck. But the progress still seemed slower than what I’d hoped for. I was up to about 12 hours and feeling like an okay beginner, but I wasn’t progressing at the rate I’d hoped.

Ready, Set… Don’t make the same mistake I did!
And then, just a few days ago, I noticed that I’d been flying in Horizon mode again. I switched that to Rate, and the flying became more difficult in some respects – and easier in others. But I knew that Rate was the way to go if I wanted to be flying, and eventually modestly freestyling, outdoors. I pushed on.
And then – light bulb moment – it hit me: Read the instructions. Watch the tutorials.
YouTube is your friend (or it can be)…
YouTube can be anything you want it to be. But when it comes to “How To” videos, it’s an incredible resource. I quickly found the Velociraptor channel and clicked on the first video for learning FPV using that simulator. I committed to starting at the beginning, even though those courses were dead easy, and paying attention to everything in these videos.
Here’s the first one. You can see how simple the course is!
[embedded content]
Ho hum. But getting it right, and getting a base foundation, is critical.
Snorefest, right? Sure. But if you knew nothing about flying FPV, you could hop onto this video and start learning and practicing. What’s great here, too, is that these tutorials jump back and forth between the track and the settings. The narrator explains clearly why you’d want to adjust certain settings to make this easier at the beginning (including flying in Horizon or Angle mode). Before long, I was hopping back in and changing my own settings as I became more comfortable.

So *that’s* that these switches do. Thanks, tutorial!
Also, by video four, we have moved on to a slightly more challenging track and are flying in Rate mode. And, I’m pleased to say, by video four, I was also flying better than I had been before. Plus, I *finally* had an understanding about what all those complicated settings were about.
Your experience may vary
I’m sure some of you might be saying: “D’uh – yeah. Why didn’t this guy start with the instructions?”
It’s a good question, and I applaud those who have the discipline and workflow to approach things this methodically. It just makes sense. In my own case, I think I just wanted to get on with it; that after such a long period of thinking I wanted to truly learn FPV that once I made the commitment to dive in…I just took the plunge. The time it would take to learn the nitty-gritty felt like unnecessary distractions that would cut into my simulator time.

What’s this? More settings? Well, at least I understand them now…
But those settings are crucial. Building on fundamentals is important. Reading instructions and watching tutorials matters.
As of the writing of this post, I’m up to just over 26 hours on the simulator. I’m what I’d call a competent beginner and now have enough confidence to get out with an observer and try some FPV outdoors. I’m by no means good, and I’m still committed to those 60 hours – even more, if necessary.
But at least now I have a plan for those 60 hours. And that plan, for me, makes sense.
A final tip: Slow and steady
I ran a few laps in race mode last night on a fairly easy course. I didn’t make any errors and felt I’d done things in a reasonable amount of time. So I uploaded my times to the leaderboard.
I came in, if I recall, slot #487. So 486 racers had been faster than me. And you know what? That’s awesome. I’m not doing this to compete with others, but just trying to ensure I have the most solid foundation possible. It was my own personal best, and that’s good enough for me. When you’re learning, control is more important than speed. Speed will come over time, if that’s what you’re after.
Anyway, time to get this story posted – as I’m hoping to sneak in maybe 15 minutes on sim during this shift. Happy flying, and I hope this resonated with at least some of you.

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How DJI’s upcoming FPV drone will change the FPV world

All of this waiting for DJI’s new FPV drone has given us some time to reflect. What impact might this product have upon the sector. The answer? We think it’s really going to shake things up. Let us tell you why.

There’s a ton of anticipation building around the impending DJI FPV drone. The product, which we believe will hit the stores at the end of February, is going to be a very new type of FPV product. In a nutshell, it will be a hybrid offering a stable flight experience for beginners but the ability for cinematic FPV and FPV racing.
And, we believe, that’s going to have quite an impact.
A whole new market
FPV is not an easy hobby to crack. A lot of knowledge and practice are required if you want to do things right. And, as we know, many if not most FPV pilots learn how to build and tweak their own racers. Even the people flying cinematic FPV usually fabricate their own CineWhoop drones, tearing apart GoPros to get the lightest package possible in the air. This is the way the FPV sector has evolved.

A DRL style drone. DJI is about to shake this world up…
And DJI is about to rattle that system.
A whole slew of new FPV pilots
We’ve seen a lot of comments since the DJI FPV drone first started leaking, and we’ve had a lot of conversations with people. What we’re seeing is very interesting: A tremendous amount of interest from people who were not previously FPV pilots. These are hobbyists who have always wanted to put their toes in the FPV waters, but have felt the barrier to entry – at least in terms of knowledge and skills – has been too high. Suddenly, these pilots are going to have access to an out-of-the-box FPV experience.

Coming soon, to a Best Buy near you…
That means we’re going to see significant numbers of people dropping a significant amount of dough to enter this aspect of drone piloting. Sure, some of those people will go on to building, learning BetaFlight, etc. But the odds are if they weren’t interested in that part of things before, they’re not going to suddenly want to leap in.
Instead, we suspect that one consequence of the new DJI product will be that other drone manufacturers suddenly will want to tap this previously unknown market sector: people who want a simpler FPV experience.
Will other manufacturers follow suit?
Interesting question. We hypothesize that many people who manufacture FPV drones are going to be scrutinizing how the DJI product is accepted. If it’s the hit we believe it will be, you can bet they will add something to their lineups that will compete.
Obviously, it’s no simple task to compete with DJI when it comes to a polished final product – especially when it’s a combo that includes a radio and high-end goggles. That’s not what we mean. Rather, we’d anticipate tweaks to existing products: Adding a GPS and Position Hold features, possibly Return to Home, might open the doors to a whole new clientele. (And hey, wouldn’t it be nice to place your FPV drone into a stable hover while you scratch your nose and adjust your goggles?)

Plus, once you start getting into the world of Banggood and similar sites, this space is incredibly competitive. I mean, just look at all the Mavic-style knock-offs that have come out of China. Those products are there, and remain there, because they’re filling a demand.
If there’s sufficient demand for the DJI product because of its feature set, it’s a no-brainer that at least some other manufacturers will try to match those features. We can also expect that some of these DJI inspired products are going to be competitively priced. FYI, we’ve previously predicted that the DJI Combo will be priced in the $1,299-$1,499 range. That’s not chump change, and there’s no shortage of companies who would love to have a piece of that pie.
Hardcore racers will likely hate it
We’ve already seen some sniping from the sidelines. And some of the critiques being levelled are valid – sort of. One of the more common comments is that this won’t be a true FPV racing drone. It’s not light enough, or fast enough – and you won’t be able to tweak it.
Sure. But this isn’t intended as a competitive FPV racer. As we’ve said repeatedly, this will be a new type of FPV drone.

This is going to have quite an impact, we predict…
We suspect some of the criticism is also borne out of what we might call pride. The people who race FPV have put in the time to learn a somewhat esoteric craft. They’ve spent countless hours on simulators, in front of soldering guns, watching YouTube videos. They’ve poured blood, sweat, and tears into learning how to optimize their crafts – and then repairing those drones after the inevitable crashes.
In short, they’ve worked damn hard to be able to build, fly and optimize. And then along comes a package that will allow someone with zero experience to start flying a version of FPV their very first day. To some, that just doesn’t feel right. We can understand that.
Embrace it
The FPV racing field – though competitive when it comes to the track – has also been tremendously supportive and cooperative over the years. Look at all the YouTube videos and forum posts where people share freely of their knowledge, all in the joy of spreading this really amazing sport to others. Or watch, near a weekend race, and see how others will jump to help when someone has a crash and can’t immediately diagnose their problem.
That’s the kind of spirit that helped build FPV racing to what it’s become.

The more, the merrier…
Yes, some of the people who buy this DJI product will never pick up a soldering gun in their lives. But there’s no reason they, too, shouldn’t be able to join in the very cool experience that is FPV.
So, when this product finally comes out, accept it for what it is.
And welcome the new pilots – because there are going to be plenty of them.

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Latest DJI Fly Android app only available from DJI’s website, not the Play Store

The DJI Fly app on Android hasn’t been updated since November, with DJI asking users to download it from its website instead. This is resulting in users not getting the latest updates and features, but why is it happening?

Looking at the version live on the Play Store, it is currently 1.2.1, while the latest version available to the public via DJI’s website is 1.2.4. This brings up the question of why the app isn’t receiving updates through the store?
As this issue has been around ever since the November update, we first thought that it was stuck at the approval phase from Google during the holiday period. But now that it has been a little longer, it seems that something else might be going on.
While looking around for an answer to this question, I stumbled upon the DJI Fly page on the company’s website. Previously you would be able to find the download for the App Store, the Play Store, and an option to download the Android version from DJI’s servers directly.
The Play Store option no longer exists. Leaving the App Store and the direct download option left. DJI has likely done this to remove confusion and the possibility of someone downloading the app’s wrong version.
So, why?
We aren’t entirely sure why the app hasn’t received updates through the Play Store for some time now. There’s a possibility that Google has denied the newer version of the app because of something added into the app as the older version of the app is still on the Play Store.
The other, less likely option is that DJI isn’t uploading a newer version of the app to the Play Store for an unknown reason. We sent DJI a note to ask what the reasoning is behind the new version of the app not being on the Play Store.
For now, though, it appears that DJI wants people to download the app directly from its website to get the latest fixes and features. You can head over to this link to download the app. Please ensure you download it from DJI’s website, as other websites can add malware to the app.
Photo: Josh Spires, DJI, and Google

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Florida could see more police and government drones in the sky

Florida could see an increase in the number of police and government drones flying around under a new bill approved by a Senate committee. The bill will allow the related agencies to use drones for limited uses, including traffic management and natural disaster response.

Looking into the bill closely, it can be seen that a big emphasis has been added to the way the drones are allowed to be used.
Its states won’t be allowed to gather evidence or other information or capture images and videos of private property unless given written approval from the owner.
As for the what the public agencies are allowed to do with the drones, it includes the following:
To assist a law enforcement agency with traffic; management, however, a law enforcement agency acting under this paragraph may not issue a traffic infraction citation based on images or video captured by a drone.
To facilitate a law enforcement agency’s collection of evidence at a crime scene or traffic crash scene.
By a state agency or political subdivision for the assessment of damage due to a flood, a wildfire, or any other natural disaster or for vegetation or wildlife management on publicly owned land or water.
By certified fire department personnel to perform tasks within the scope and practice authorized under their certifications.
It’s great to see bills being passed that also stop some of the more intrusive uses of drones while still allowing them to be used in emergencies and crime scenes. The bill’s introduction should also mean improved response times and less time needed for crime-scene 3D modeling.
Take a look at the other public agencies around the world utilizing drones to improve safety and efficiency.
Photo: Asael Peña

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Fat Shark’s parent company Red Cat looks to buy Skypersonic

After showing off what the two company’s tech is capable of when combined, Fat Shark’s parent company Red Cat Holdings has signed a letter of intent to purchase Skypersonic – an investment that would allow the company to offer a drone platform operated from anywhere in the world.

The letter of intent means that Red Cat is committed to doing business with Skypersonic or, in this case, purchasing the company to add to its ever-growing portfolio.
While it seems that the two parties want to work together in the future, this does not necessarily mean the deal will go through. We will have to wait and see if it does.
Earlier this month, Fat Shark took a trip to Skypersonic’s office in Michigan to put its proprietary technology to the test by flying a drone from approximately 1,200 miles.
In the video, there was a pilot in Florida, while the drone was all the way in Michigan. The drone was using Fat Shark’s Shark Byte system for video and the company’s remote pilot tech. Using a special computer program, the pilot could connect a drone controller, have it automatically detected, and connect to the drone 1,200 miles away. To make this possible, the drone’s signal is sent to Skypersonic’s server in Europe, sending it back to the pilot and vice versa.
Jeffrey Thompson, CEO of Red Cat, shared:

Skypersonic Inc. shares our passion and vision for how the first-person-view (FPV) use of drone technology can enable businesses to complete critical operations in an efficient, safe manner. A Skycopter equipped with Skyloc software can complete inspections in locations that are confined, hard to reach, and inefficient to complete manually.

Once in the air, you could see that the drone was controlled without any issues. The pilot was able to get a feel for the drone and move it around. There is some lag, which is expected from a system like this. That being said, the applications for this kind of platform don’t require amazing latency anyway.
This combination of technology from both companies is perfect for situations that might be too dangerous for a drone pilot to be in. The area might be unstable or hazardous to humans, making it perfect for someone to be as far away as possible.
Another use case could be for companies with drones around the US and pilots in one control center. This would allow the pilots to access and control the drone without traveling to the specific location, which cuts down on costs and time needed to complete a job.
Giuseppe Santangelo, CEO of Skypersonic, added:

Skypersonic presently collaborates with multiple Automotive OEM (original equipment manufacturer) customers and Commercial Energy Industries located in US, Brazil, Europe, Middle East, and Asia. The transoceanic direct-fly platform has enabled our customers to perform real-time inspections with pilots and inspectors located all over the world. Combining the software solutions provided by Sklyoc, and those being developed in Dronebox by Red Cat, could result in a leading software operating platform across the entire drone industry.

[embedded content]
Photo: Red Cat Holdings

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Australia’s drone registration and accreditation deadline is tomorrow!

Australia’s drone registration and pilot accreditation deadline is tomorrow, January 28, so we thought we would remind you to ensure those who are required to follow the new regulation have the chance to do so before receiving a large fine.

The deadline for drone registration was supposed to be last year, but due to COVID-19, the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) postponed it to January 28, 2021, which happens to be tomorrow.
If you are caught without your registration and accreditation papers, you can face a fine of up to AU$11,100. CASA has said that police will also be informed to check for the correct registration, so don’t be surprised to see police at some of the most popular drone areas worldwide.
Requirements
If you are flying or planning to fly commercially and use your drone in the following ways, it likely means you are flying commercially and will have to register your drone and become an accredited pilot.
Selling photos or videos are taken from a drone
Inspecting industrial equipment, construction sites, or infrastructure
Monitoring, surveillance, or security services
Research and development
Any drone activities on behalf of your employer or business
If your drone fits into one of the following groups, this means you will need to register your drone and become an accredited pilot as well.
250 g or less (micro RPA)
More than 250 g but no more than 2 kg (very small RPA)
More than 2 kg but no more than 25 kg, and you only fly it over your own land (small RPA)
Drone registration
If you are flying commercially or it’s a part of your job, you need to register your drone before the January 28, 2021, deadline. If you aren’t planning to fly your drone or are flying for fun, you don’t need to register it. As the registration came into effect recently, CASA is allowing pilots to register their drones for free until June 30, 2021. The registration lasts for 12 months.
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Pilot accreditation
To fly a drone commercially, you are also required to become an accredited pilot. You do not need to become accredited if you currently hold a remote pilot license (RePL) or are flying for fun. This will last for three years and requires a short, free online test.
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How to register and become accredited?
Registering your drone and becoming an accredited pilot is easy. Head over to the myCASA website, create an account or log in, and hit the RPA operator accreditation button to begin the process. To be accredited, you will need the following:
To be 16 or older (an accredited is required to watch you while flying)
Proof of identity, such as an Australian passport, Australian birth or citizenship certificate, or ImmiCard
A myCASA account
An aviation reference number (ARN)
Make, model, serial number, weight, and type of drone
Download and/or print your certificate of registration from myCASA
Photo: Harry Cunningham

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Russia will supply Myanmar Orlan-10E drones, missiles, and radars

A document between Russia and Myanmar has reportedly been signed for Russia to supply Orlan-10E drones, Pantsir-S1 missile systems, and radar stations. The new additions should allow the country to expand its reconnaissance missions and be prepared for enemy aircraft.

The information was shared by a Russian news outlet late last week. The document was signed with the Russian Minister of Defense General Sergei Shoigu and Myanmar Armed Forces Commander-in-Chief General Min Aung Hline during a recent visit to the Southeast Asian country.
Russia-Myanmar relations
The two countries opened relations back when Myanmar, then called Burma, became an independent country. Along with China, Russia has also vetoed a United Nations Security Council’s resolution to see it punished.
On the more controversial side, Russia and Myanmar signed a deal that would see the two undertake nuclear research. This deal saw a research center built with a “10MW light-water reactor working on 20% enriched uranium-235, an activation analysis laboratory, a medical isotope production laboratory, silicon doping system, nuclear waste treatment, and burial facilities.”
Nine years later, the two signed a defense cooperation agreement, with an announcement two years later in 2018 sharing that the agreement will be expanded. The new agreement saw the two countries working together to strengthen their military forces and help Myanmar “in the navy sphere, hydrography, topography, military medicine, [and] military education.”
STC Orlan-10
The Orlan-10 has specifically been mentioned in the deal between the two countries and is primarily a reconnaissance drone produced by Russian contractor Special Technology Center. The drone is often sent up with a few others, the first is used for reconnaissance, the second for electronic warfare, and the third being used as a transponder to send data back to the control center.
There are reportedly less than 1,000 built, with a total of 11 variations, likely adapted to hold ammunition. The drone is currently used by the Russian Ground Forces, the Myanmar Armed Forces, with drones being spotted in the Ukraine and Syria in the civil war.
The drone has a maximum airspeed of 150 kph (93 mph) and can stay in the air for up to 16 hours. It can hold up to 6 kg (13 lbs) and uses an unknown ICE engine, which uses standard gasoline. It uses a catapult system to get the drone in the air while using a parachute to land safely.
Photo: Mike1979 Russia

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Drone pilot and cinematographer creates next-level video effects…

A post by DJIGlobal grabbed us tonight. The post-production work was spectacular. We wanted to share it with you…and learn what we could about the creator.

Here at DroneDJ, we really like spotting and highlighting talent from the drone world. It might be an amazing pilot, or perhaps someone who designs and builds drones. In this case, it’s someone with a combination of creativity and astonishing technical chops. So sit back, and prepare to watch a few clips that will really blow your mind.
Seriously.
Remember Inception?
Of course you do – that 2010 movie with the wild special effects. The one where cities seemed to turn inside out, and you were left wondering what it was you’d just seen. Well, the first clip from Christoph Benfey is kind of like that.
Chris is from Canada; he’s been shooting pro photos for about 20 years and got into the drone world two years ago. An accomplished pilot, cinematographer and creative, he’s won a number of awards in fields ranging from marketing to filmmaking. And when you see this clip, you’ll understand why: This is one crazy loop that will challenge your perspective:

This is a crazy good piece of work..
DJI reposted it…
Shot with a Mavic 2 Pro and with @DJIGlobal tagged, the drone giant was quick to share it on Instagram. Within eight hours it had racked up nearly 35k likes and 368 comments.

Well-earned, Christoph!
We wanted to see what else Christoph has done…
So we went nosing around his Instagram and YouTube accounts, as well as his LinkedIn profile. (We also shot him a note to see if we could ask some questions. He hadn’t seen it by the time we published, so hopefully we can still catch up with him another time.)
Here’s how his LinkedIn profile describes him:

An award-winning director and cinematographer, Christoph Benfey has been using cameras to capture moments as they happen around him for almost two decades. Since having his work published at age 15, he’s been driven by a desire to tell stories and showcase subjects in new and exciting ways, changing people’s perceptions of otherwise mundane content. His unorthodox approach to his commercial work has resulted in several national marketing awards including the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Excellence in Marketing. Christoph’s obsession with new technologies in pursuit of unique perspectives lead him into the world of drone cinematography two years ago, and he is now a highly sought-after drone pilot for commercial work all over North America. Not one to shy away from danger, his work has taken him on some crazy adventures, from 6 levels deep in the belly of a Bolivian mine, to 18,000 feet above sea level, to having his eyelids freeze shut in Canada’s far north. 
Christoph Benfey’s LinkedIn Profile

Let’s check out a few more of Christoph’s posts!
For sure! This boomerang/hyperlapse is, well, kinda delicious. (The car’s not bad, either.)

Here’s some nice FPV work from last fall. No special effects here, just some great piloting:

And this? Definitely some hyperlapse action going on, while moving in on an interesting subject in really low-light. Once again, Benfey produces memorable work:

And let’s not forget this gorgeous FPV loop:

Wanna learn from Christoph?
Who wouldn’t? His YouTube channel features some great clips, including this tutorial offering 10 tips for beginners hoping to up their cinematic FPV game. Check it out:
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And here he is…
In his natural environment.

Follow this guy…we just did.
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cbenfey/
YouTube
We’re hoping to pick up some tips when we get a chance to speak with Christoph. So stay tuned!

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Virtual Boston Drone Film Festival announced for March 2021

The good news? A new Boston Drone Film Festival is ON for 2021. The bad news? Like pretty much everything else, it’s virtual only. That being said, we do have the deets.

Drone Film Festivals have become pretty popular in recent years – largely because there are so many creators flying drones. The New York City Drone Film Festival has seen some awesome content over the years, with people pushing the envelope with every subsequent festival. And now there’s another drone film festival – a new one – slated for Boston.
We’re looking forward to it.
Inaugural Boston Drone Film Festival
We received a news release on this one. We’ll post a video, then paste the release.
Here’s the video:

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Nice…
And here’s the release:
Boston Drone Film Festival (#BOSDFF) is excited to announce that we are hosting the very first drone film festival in Boston on March 19-20, 2021. BOSDFF is an international film festival that celebrates the creative pursuits and achievements of drone filmmakers, photographers and 360 creatives.
Company Information
The Festival was founded by Jovan Tanasijevic, cofounder and director at Above Summit, a local production studio specializing in drone cinematography. Our team of talented drone pilots, videographers, photographers, and editors, allows us to create innovative content for networks such as AMC, NBC, and Netflix, and films/TV series including The Society, NOS4A2, and Knives Out.
As one of the first drone production studios in New England, we were inspired to create the first Boston Drone Film Festival, resulting from the vision to create a platform for a community of creatives to share their work, network with artists, and learn from industry leaders. Our vision for this festival is to attract and connect with an international audience of drone photographers and 360 creatives. 
Serving as a platform for talented drone content creators, we hope to inspire a new generation to push the limits of what’s creatively possible with the technology.
We are honored to have a jury of 14 leading creative minds consisting of producers, directors, writers, aerial photographers/videographers, professional drone pilots/racers, CEOs of two women-owned and operated drone education companies, and many other talented industry leaders. In addition we have created strong partnerships with related influencers and brands such as Hugh Hou from Creator Up, BotGrinder FPV, SGO Mistika, and many more!
Festival Information: 
SCREENING + AWARDS via Festive
March 19, 2021/6 p.m.-10 p.m.
Opening Ceremony
Film and Photo Screening 
Awards and Giveaways
DRONE CAMP via Festivee
March 20, 2021/11 a.m.-10 p.m.
3 Panel Discussions
12 Workshops
1 Demonstrations
What We Are Looking For:
We are looking for strong photographers and videographers that use drones or 360/VR in the creation of their work, to apply to our festival. There are over a dozen categories that we’re sure will represent anyone’s work well. Our submissions deadline is September 15.

We’re looking forward to this!
Film submissions are divided into 14 categories: 
Documentary, Landscape, Urban, Sports, Showreel, Single Take, Cinematic FPV, Freestyle FPV, Film Editing, 360 Video, 360 Photography, Landscape Photography, Nature Photography. 
We also will have one special category for Student Films. 
Students can use the discount code: BOSDFFSTUDENT to get 50% off of their submission fee. 
The Photography submissions are divided into three categories: Nature, Architecture, and 360.
The 360 submissions are divided into two categories as well: 360 Photography and 360 Video.
The winner of each category will be awarded with a prize. There will be one grand prize winner. 
The opening date for all late submission started on January 19, 2021. Last day to submit via late submission is February 8. All nominees will be notified on February 19, 2021. 
Quote: 
Bringing you to the frontline of drone cinematography and photography.
Call to Action:
(Before February 8) Submissions are now open at: www.filmfreeway.com/BOSDFF
(After February 8) Tickets are on sale now at:
The Boston Drone Film Festival is open to U.S. and International submissions. All applicants must submit through www.filmfreeway.com/BOSDFF unless notified by the festival organizers.
For more details, submissions and to purchase tickets:
Website: https://www.bostondronefilmfestival.com
Film Freeway: https://filmfreeway.com/BOSDFF
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bostondronefilmfestival/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bostondronefilmfestival/

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DJI adds option of Flyaway coverage for Mini 2, Mavic Air 2

Worried that your Mavic Mini or Mini 2 might fly away on you? Odds are it will never happen. But in the rare event it does? If you have DJI Care Refresh, you’re covered.

There was a time when flyways were not that uncommon. One minute, you’d be flying your drone along with no problems… and the next it was like it had a brain of its own. You’d watch, helpless, as the drone flew away into the sunset (or in a different direction). Only a lucky few would find those drones; the rest were out of luck.
Now, DJI is offering protection against this issue for the Mavic Air 2 and the Mini 2.
A new offering to DJI Care
The new coverage is included with DJI Care Refresh. Owners of the DJI Mavic Air 2 and the new Mini 2 would simply pay a corresponding replacement fee if they have a flyaway.
The news came in an email from DJI, which included these details:

DJI Care Flyaway coverage takes effect when Care Refresh is purchased and customers sync their account and remote controller to the latest version of the DJI Fly App. In the rare case of a flyaway, customers can file a Flyaway report, pay any corresponding fees and receive a replacement product quickly. Existing customers who purchased DJI Care Refresh can add this service by binding their DJI account with the remote controller. The new service offers a 1 year plan that covers 1 flyaway, a 2 year plan that covers up to 2 flyaways and DJI Care Refresh+ which covers 1 fly away or 1 accidental damage incident.

How much will it cost?
With slight variations, that depends on where you live. For full pricing details, hit up this link. You can also find a little more comprehensive explanation right here.
Does this ever happen anymore?
It doesn’t happen often. But yes, it still does happen.

DJI Care Refresh might just save the day…
The following reported incident occurred, says the owner, with a brand new Mavic Air 2.

I took my MA2 out for its second flight today. It ended up at the bottom of the lake. This is what I sent to DJI: Started drone and it said barometer error please restart. I restarted and it said the same thing. I was going to pack up and come home but I tried once more. It started fine with no errors. I gave it a minute to see if any errors appeared but they didn’t. So I took off and it was about  20 meters away and 20 high at a guess and it just suddenly started to drop. It hit the water but bounced up and hovered. I had no control over it at this time it had lost connection. After a few minutes, it climbed up high like it was in return to home mode. It got about 30 meters up then suddenly dropped like a stone and hit the water upside down and sank. I have DJI care refresh and I stupidly thought it covered everything, only to find out it’s useless if the drone flies away and you can’t retrieve it. So now I’ve put a claim in with DJI for a fly away. How do these usually go? It was 100% not user error as i had no errors before take off, connected to loads of satellites. Battery was 50%. When the remote lost connection it should have flown home and looked like it was. Only to drop. 
DJI Forum Post

The good news?
Well, providing you have DJI Care Refresh, you’re covered for the Mavic Air 2 and the Mini 2.
We checked in with DJI to see if flight logs would be required. Yes, they would, as DJI would want to examine what went wrong. But what about if you were flying in a strong wind and your drone was simply carried away? DJI would examine all cases on their merit, but a DJI spokesperson says he’s confident that your product would still be replaced, providing you paid the replacement fee.

Purchasing that extra coverage is like buying insurance: You hope you never need it – but it’s really great to have in the rare event things go wrong.

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US Advanced Air Mobility market to reach $115B annually by 2035

The coming wave of electrically powered aircraft shuttling drones and humans will be huge, says a new report by Deloitte and the Aerospace Industries Association. The report refers to Advanced Air Mobility rather than Urban Air Mobility – and includes both cities and rural areas in its projections.

If you’ve been watching the drone industry as more than a hobbyist or recreational user, you’ll know there are big trends afoot. One is on the regulatory side, as the FAA and other partners globally seek solutions to Unmanned Traffic Management, or UTM. This is to ensure the safe operation of unmanned aerial vehicles on flights that take them beyond Visual Line of Sight and the safe integration of manned and unmanned aircraft. And once that system is complete?
Well, it looks like the floodgates will open.
Drone deliveries, passenger-carrying drones, etc…
It’s hard to picture right now. But we really are on the cusp of a revolution in the skies. Drone deliveries, passenger-carrying drones, and more will eventually be routine. And the new report from Deloitte and the Aerospace Industries Association predicts this will bring huge economic activity to the United States.

This EHang drone is carrying rice – but can carry two passengers..
Here are a few of the report’s highlights:
$115 billion annual market by 2035, accounting for 30% of US commercial aerospace total
Of that $115 b, $57 billion is expected from passenger market; $58 billion from deliveries
An estimated 280,000 jobs in this sector by 2035
The full news release
Those are clearly the highlights. But there’s enough interest in this topic we felt it worthwhile to publish the news release in its entirety. Here it is:
ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 26, 2021 – The market for advanced air mobility (AAM) in the United States is estimated to reach $115 billion annually by 2035, potentially creating more than 280,000 jobs, according to a report released today by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and Deloitte.
The report, “Advanced Air Mobility: Can the U.S. Afford to Lose the Race?” discusses how U.S. aerospace and defense (A&D) companies are poised to lead the nascent global industry, which is predicted to become mainstream in the 2030s. The report also provides a framework to guide U.S. efforts related to the possible economic and national security benefits of adopting this advanced mode of transportation.
Advanced air mobility, the next disruption in aerospace
AAM promises to transform how people and goods are transported through new, community-friendly, and cost-effective electric-powered air taxis and cargo shuttles. As part of this transformation, electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) aircraft are expected to be deployed in both rural and urban environments in the U.S. and other countries from 2025 onwards.
“Our industry is on the cusp of the next great step in aviation technology,” said Eric Fanning, AIA president and CEO. “By establishing a national strategy in AAM, we have the potential to give the U.S. a major competitive advantage in the global market and realize new national security benefits, including new ways to transport our troops and cargo. U.S. leadership in this emerging aviation technology is essential to bolstering our economy and innovation within America.”
The global race for AAM leadership is intensifying, and the U.S. faces strong competition from China, Germany and South Korea. The race carries high stakes for the U.S. economy with a potential of $20 billion in AAM exports by 2035, according to the study.
“The deployment of AAM will require a sustained, collaborative approach between the private and public sectors to push for eVTOL aircraft to be widely accepted and adopted, sooner rather than later,” said Robin Lineberger, Deloitte Global and U.S. A&D leader. “With the market poised to grow sevenfold between 2025 and 2035, it’s important for U.S. policymakers and industries to cooperate now to ensure American leadership in this transformative emerging sector.”
Public-private cooperation could be key to development
The report offers insights into how the U.S. can achieve and sustain a leadership position in AAM and provides recommendations on how to fill the current gaps. Three major focus areas are identified to consider:
·         Creating a clear and conducive policy environment that fosters public-private partnerships, streamlines vehicle testing and certification, and seamlessly integrates AAM into the existing airspace system.
·         Leading in key technologies and capabilities by focusing R&D in key areas, including developing advanced battery/energy density, artificial intelligence and 5G technologies, and developing the right engineering talent for the future here at home.
·         Developing and scaling the market with U.S. government investments and support to help build physical infrastructure such as vertiports or retrofit existing aerospace infrastructure and position the industry for exports.
The study concludes that, through a mix of balanced regulation and substantial investment in research, advanced technologies, physical infrastructure and talent, the U.S. could be uniquely poised to lead in this new aerospace market.
Study methodology
Deloitte and AIA conducted a series of executive interviews with more than 50 senior American aerospace and automotive industry leaders to examine the global race in the space and to identify key steps and conditions to consider for the U.S. to achieve leadership in AAM. Deloitte also conducted an executive survey with responses from 102 senior industry and policy executives in the U.S. to study the market potential for AAM and analyze the principal technologies required for developing AAM products and services.
What do you think?
Do you envision the industry will grow as predicted? Yes? No? Maybe? If you have some thoughts, drop ’em in the comments!

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Check out Cora: A VTOL air taxi drone

Urban Air Mobility is a buzzphrase these days. It’s a way of describing a coming future where unmanned aerial vehicles – including air taxis that ferry passengers – are part of the urban airspace.

Think about the last time you were stuck in traffic. Wouldn’t it have been a cool option if you could have summoned an aircraft with a phone app, climbed in, and been autonomously flown to a landing pad close to your destination? That’s the vision several companies have of the near future, in a world of Urban Air Mobility, or UAM. We’ve written about this before with EHang, the Chinese manufacturer of a two-person, autonomous passenger-carrying vehicle.
Today, we’re going to look at another contender.
Introducing Wisk and Cora
It’s okay if you haven’t heard those names before. But we can pretty much guarantee you’ve heard of two related names. Wisk is a company established in 2019. It’s a joint venture between Boeing and Kitty Hawk Corporation. With its headquarters in Mountain View, California, it also has offices in Atlanta and New Zealand.
But the seeds of Cora – its passenger carrying drone – started earlier, in 2010. That’s when a partnership with Kitty Hawk along began, and it’s where the Cora project first got under way. The aircraft first flew in 2017 and has since completed more than 1,400 successful flights.
A unique VTOL design
All passenger drones intended for the world of Urban Air Mobility are VTOLs. You need to be able to take off and land vertically in an urban center, as it’s not realistic to start building runways everywhere. Some designs, like EHang’s EH216, clearly have their roots in the world of multicopters:

EHang’s EH216 carries two people and has 16 motors
Cora is different. It uses a fixed-wing and a single pusher propeller for forward motion. It also has a dozen small props for vertical lift.

Wisk’s Cora in flight
Those propellers caught our eye immediately, as there’s some pretty interesting engineering going on. The blades are short and broad. Wisk refers to them as “fans.” Once you hear that, and take a second look, it’s pretty clear they do look more like fan blades than propellers. We’re guessing there are 12 of them because they have less lift than larger props – and also for the purposes of redundancy.
Let’s see it fly
This new video takes a look at the history of the vehicle’s development:
[embedded content]
Specifications
Wisk offers some specs for Cora on its website. Here are the basics:
Range: 25 miles (about 40 kilometers) initially
Speed: 100 mph/160 kph
Wingspan: 36′
Length: 21′
Regulatory: Experimental airworthiness certificate from both the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)

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Free Adobe Creative Cloud trial hidden in DJI Fly app update (U)

There’s a really great offer hidden in the code of the new DJI Fly app update: a three-month trial to Adobe’s Creative Cloud.

Behind every great app – and even behind not-so-great apps – there’s code. Sometimes, that code contains hidden features. Or, in this case, the promise of a hidden feature. From what we can see, DJI might have plans to offer certain pilots a pretty sweet deal.
Which pilots? What deal? Read on.
Free, three-month trial of Adobe Creative Cloud software
The latest version of DJI Fly, Version 1.2.4, was released yesterday (January 25). When we took a deeper look, we discovered a deal currently hidden under the hood. And by that we mean some text that makes a tantalizing but currently unrealized offer: a three-month trial to Adobe Creative Cloud.

It’s a great offer, once it’s actually available…
Many of you will know that’s a license to some pretty powerful tools and a pretty sweet deal for someone interested in trying out the software. Lightroom, Photoshop and Premiere Pro are the go-to apps for many visual professionals.
What does the text say?
Here’s what we found:
“Three-month complimentary membership to Adobe Software.”
And then:
The redemption code can be used to redeem Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe Premiere Rush, Adobe Photoshop, and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom.
2. Your complimentary Adobe software code expires within three months of your Mavic Air 2 purchase. Redeem now.
3. You will be asked to register an Adobe account before you redeem the code.
4. The Coupon is not valid in Mainland China.
5. The coupon code cannot be redeemed for cash.
6. Offer is subject to availability.
7. DJI and Adobe reserve the right of final interpretation of these terms and conditions.
Mavic Air 2 purchase?
The offer appears to be tied to the purchase of a Mavic Air 2.

Will the purchase of a Mavic Air 2 get you a free trial of Adobe Creative Cloud? Maybe
The text, as you saw, suggests you must activate the offer within three months of purchasing a Mavic Air 2. Of course, that’s all moot since the offer is not yet activated.
We contacted DJI to ask if and/or when this feature might be activated. The company says it will get us some info, which we hope to pass along shortly.
Update: The company will have a statement shortly but the jist of it is:
Partnerships should be live on Android devices now and will go live on iOS by this week
New and current users of Mavic Air 2 can redeem.
New users of Mini 2, Mavic Mini and Osmo line can also access the 3 free months as well.
Wait, there’s new music, too!
Also buried in that app update are three mp3 files under a folder called “qs_music.” They’re short little pieces, 15 seconds each. We’re guessing they’re meant to either be used when creating a QuickShot video or perhaps to accompany a tutorial.
We’ve listened to them; kind of generic YouTube background stuff.
A proviso
We should point out that when we find these things, they don’t always come to fruition. Sometimes companies put bits and pieces like this in updates to give them the option of activating them, but for whatever reason, decide not to follow through.
So yes, it’s a tantalizing offer. But so far…it’s only a ghost in the machine.

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Coke and Walmart partner to deliver new Coca-Cola with Coffee by drone

To get people excited about Coca-Cola’s latest product, it has partnered with Walmart to deliver its latest Coca-Cola with Coffee drink by drone to select customers in Coffee County, Georgia. The move doesn’t come as a surprise as Walmart continues to embrace drone deliveries.

The two companies called in national drone service provider DroneUp to ensure the marketing stunt was achievable. DroneUp offers everything from drone deliveries to training and conducts search and rescue missions.
The three-way partnership allowed single-family homes within a one-mile radius of the Walmart Supercenter in Coffee County to have the option to receive Coca-Cola with Coffee and Coca-Cola with Coffee Zero Sugar delivered by drone to their home.
The drone used by DroneUp looks to be a customized DJI Matrice 600 Pro, with a mechanism to hold the package during flight. Looking closely at the image, it appears that the drone uses four arms to hold the package tightly and a tether to lower it at the drop-off location, keeping the drone in the air and away from people.
As for the package, it appears that a single Coke can is inside of it, with cardboard being used to ensure the can stays in place and doesn’t become explosive when the person opens it. We haven’t been able to find any footage of the delivery drone in action, but we will update the post once we do!
Walmart and drones
This isn’t the first time Walmart has worked with drones. Last year September, it began a limited drone delivery service in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The drones have been delivering select groceries to test the operations before rolling out to the rest of the country.
The drones are from drone delivery company Flytrex and will be flown using a cloud-based system. Unlike other drone delivery networks, the drones will deliver the goods right to the customer’s door rather than a nearby depot or pick-up point.
The point of both of these pilot programs is for Walmart to collect valuable data on the customer’s acceptance of a drone delivering goods, the overall experience of getting goods delivered by drone, and if it makes sense to continue delivering groceries by drone.
Walmart also partnered with Intel to go on a drone light show tour around the US to celebrate the holiday season. The pair sent up 1,000 drones at each location, displaying holiday-themed images and characters.
Photo: Coca-Cola

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Is senseFly teasing a new drone release?

senseFly has hinted that it will be releasing a new product, presumably a drone, on February 1. A new video teases just enough to grab our attention. Let’s take a look.

senseFly, if you weren’t aware, is the commercial wing of Parrot. The subsidiary was founded in 2009, and has had tremendous success with its eBee drone. The delta-wing aircraft is a favorite of many for surveying and photogrammetry, and has built a reputation as a reliable workhorse. The company also makes an RTK version for super-high spatial accuracy. It produces drones for surveying, precision agriculture, thermal scanning, and more.
And now? It looks like something else is in the pipeline.
What will senseFly release?
Well, based on the 22-second teaser, we’re guessing a new drone. The familiar eBee lines are in this video:
[embedded content]
“A new solution for drone mapping…”
The new release is on February 1
There’s not really any other info to go on, except for that little tease. But it is worth pointing out that senseFly has really been a serious player in the drone game for quite some time. While writing this up, I remembered a video that was pretty amazing when it first came out: senseFly used its drone(s) to map the Matterhorn, the mighty mountain that straddles the border between Switzerland and Italy.
Memory’s a funny thing: I guessed this was from about four years ago. But senseFly carried out this accomplishment seven years ago. Clearly, they were ahead of the game at that time. If you’re pressed for time, you could start at about the 2:34 mark:
[embedded content]
That was quite an accomplishment…seven years ago!
DroneDJ will be watching…
We love product releases. And we know senseFly has a lot of devotees.
We’ll be sure to let you know what the company releases next Monday!

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Finding a place to fly your drone – anywhere in the world

Aerial photography can be awesome to look at. But what does it take to find a place to fly your drone safely to capture the memorable photos or videos that are so popular on social media? I’ll tell you.
more…
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This digital artist alters drone images to create political statements

We’ve all seen plenty of digital manipulation of regular photos for the sake of art. But a digital artist from France has taken that a step further: He creates fantastical works of art from drone images.

For more than a decade, Fabien Barrau has specialized in photo post-production. His work is very high-end; a page on his website shows he’s done work for brands like Nina Ricci, Hennessy, OnePlus, and Yeezy. The ad work is gorgeous, but it’s when we head over to Barrau’s Instagram site that things get even more interesting – at least from our perspective. Because it’s there that Barrau lets his imagination and skills run wild by turning drone photos into truly fantastical images.
Let’s take a look.
Drone photos digitally altered with magical results
Once we get onto Barrau’s Instagram page, we see a very different aspect of Barrau’s talent. Look, for example, at this image. Sure brings home some of the issues facing the rain forest:

Very clever work…
Black Lives Matter
With some of his artwork, Barrau makes political statements. Just look at this image from a Black Lives Matter protest; you’ll see an image of George Floyd Jr. in the massive crowd:

That’s quite an image…
Climate change
As you saw with the Brazilian rain forest image, Barrau is clearly concerned about climate change. In fact, he’s devoted several pieces to this theme, and some are apocalyptic in nature. This composite photos combine drone photos with stock photos to imagine what the future might look like in a world with unchecked climate change. The goal? To make people stop and think… and hopefully act. Heres New York City in the year 2476:

And Rome.. .in 2219:

Chicago, 2323

The series is called “News From the Future,” and Barrau was interviewed for a story that appears on the Dezeen website. The story says Barrau draws inspiration for some of these images from iconic films like Planet of the Apes (1968), Mad Max (1979), and Akira (1988) – and you can definitely see those influences. The article also quotes Barrau as saying he truly hopes these images can have an impact:

My motivation for this series was how to influence awareness of climate change and the urgency to act every day according to one’s means and power. In my case, my little power is to create images and imagine myself as an explorer who will return from the future with photos of a changed world. I remain convinced that a simple image can have more impact on people, especially the youngest, to understand the probabilities of the consequences of inaction.

Really amazing, thought-provoking work, Fabien.
We leave you with this image of the Statue of Liberty.

Yikes. The News from the Future is not good…

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Tampa Bay a ‘No Drone Zone’ during Super Bowl LV, 2021

Super Bowl LV is coming. But the FAA wants you to leave your drone at home – and it’s providing plenty of notice.

Super Bowl LV will see the Kansas City Chiefs play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And, in a sign that things will eventually return to normal, there will partial attendance. The NFL announced last week that 22,000 fans will be admitted, including 7,500 healthcare workers who have received the COVID-19 vaccine. So while there will be plenty of empty seats, at least there will be some people there.
But the FAA wants to make sure there are no drones.
‘No Drone Zone’
A new post on the FAA website states that Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium will be designated a “No Drone Zone” for the big Super Bowl LV game on February 7, 2021. And that’s not just a request: The federal agency will establish a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) on game day.

The big game’s official logo.
What does that mean? Well, drones will be prohibited from flying within a 30 nautical mile radius, from ground level to 18,000 AGL. The TFR will go into effect at 5:30 p.m. EST and last until 11:59 p.m. EST. Here’s some info from the advisory:

Under the authority granted by 49 USC, the FAA may apply restrictions within airspace under its jurisdiction. Any person who knowingly and willingly violates these restrictions may be subject to certain criminal and/or civil penalties. Pilots who violate security TFRs or procedures may be intercepted, detained and interviewed by Law Enforcement/Security Personnel. They may also be subject to the following actions:

The FAA may take administrative action, including imposing civil penalties and the suspension or revocation of airmen certificates;
The United States Government may pursue criminal charges, including charges under Title 49 of the United States Code, Section 46307;
The United States Government may use deadly force against the airborne aircraft, if it is determined that the aircraft poses an imminent security threat.

Leave the drone at home
You can bet that security agencies (and the FAA) will be monitoring for any drone flights. It’s also a safe bet that the stadium or regulatory agencies will have some form of drone detection system – and likely even technology to disable or commandeer a drone in flight.

Variation on a theme. The FAA doesn’t want drones interfering with sporting events.
Recently, we reported on the FAA’s campaign encouraging people to leave their drones at home on game day.
Well, the games don’t get much bigger than this. And you can bet that anyone who violates the FAA’s TFR will be facing some pretty serious consequences. So enjoy the game – and leave your drone flying in Tampa for another day.

This graphic makes the message pretty clear.
Just the latest FAA TFR
The FAA has been busy. Just last week it was telling people to leave drones at home during the inauguration of President Joe Biden:

So if you’re in Tampa February 7, either keep your drone shelved – or ensure you’re at least 30 nautical miles from the stadium from 5:30 p.m. onward.

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Researchers turn to cameras for improved drone landings

Researchers from the Shibaura Institute of Technology, Tokyo, have improved drone landings with a camera mounted on a servo-controlled platform. The system uses image recognition to detect a landing location from a preset landing symbol.

The two-man team has developed this solution to allow drones to autonomously land for something like a search and rescue mission when the drone isn’t the center of attention.
Drones on the market already use cameras to help with landings. The Skydio 2 can even detect the pattern on the hardshell case it comes with to land on it as it has no landing gear. So, what makes this solution different?
Rather than relying on a stationary camera, the researchers have essentially created a two-axis gimbal mounted underneath the drone to which the camera is then mounted. The gimbal is used to keep the camera looking at the ground rather than moving with the drone.
Using an algorithm and image detection, the camera can find a landing spot autonomously using a database of landing symbols. This means that once the drone is not required anymore, the pilot can tell it to land and find a safe landing spot on its own.

The system scans for a landing symbol at 20 Hertz, which isn’t the fastest rate but still more than enough for a drone looking to find a landing zone. As alternative solutions already exist for consumer drones, it seems that this is more aimed toward current commercial drones.
If you look at all the commercial drones on the market today, many aren’t equipped with any obstacle avoidance or landing detection systems, leaving the pilot to ensure the drone doesn’t hit anything and land safely. Having access to an easy-to-use and affordable system to allow you to tackle one of these problems is a big step forward from a safety aspect.
As the system looks to be made from off-the-shelf hardware and 3D-printed parts, it could also work if the software powering the system is sold or opened sourced by the developers. Either way, researchers creating solutions like this is perfect for the industry as it inspires other people to create a system, if nothing else.
Researchers are also doing more epic things with drones, everything from quantum networks to preventing drones falling out of the sky.
Photo: IEEE

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US Africa Command’s MQ-1C drone malfunctions over Niger

A US Africa Command spokesperson has shared that one of its MQ-1C drones has malfunctioned over Niger, Africa, while armed with a Hellfire missile. It’s not the first time the US drones have crashed in the region, with an MQ-9 Reaper crashing due to mechanical failure last year.

Images of the drone were shared on Twitter via France 24 journalist Wassim Nasr. It is reported that the armed drone was forced to make an emergency landing due to an unknown malfunction.
Air Force Col. Christopher Karns spoke to Military Times, saying:

The aircraft experienced a mechanical malfunction while conducting a routine mission in support of operations in the region. The aircraft is under observation by U.S. forces with host nation cooperation and assistance.

The drone is currently being assessed from the flight logs, while recovery of it is currently underway. It is expected that the missile will be removed from the drone as soon as possible to stop someone from stealing it and possibly selling it to a terrorist group.
The MQ-1C Gray Eagle is used in surveillance and reconnaissance missions, target acquisition, command, control, communications relay, signals intelligence, electronic warfare, attack, battle damage assessment, and manned-unmanned teaming capabilities.
It’s great to see that the drone was able to perform an emergency landing successfully. If not, it would have led to much more damage and possible accidental deaths to people near the drone. It is still pretty scary to see a drone land in a public area with a missile still attached. We hope that the drone and the missile have been secured by now.
General Atomics MQ-1C Gray Eagle drone uses a Thielert Centurion diesel engine that produces 165 HP, allowing it to stay in the air for up to 25 hours at a maximum speed of 192 mph. It can fly at a maximum altitude of 29,000 feet and has four hardpoints, which means it can carry up to four Hellfire missiles, eight Stinger missiles, or four Viper Strike bombs.

Photo: Wassim Nasr

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Western Australia’s regional police turn to drones in hopes to reduce response times

Western Australia’s regional police force have turned to drones to reduce response times in emergencies, making Albany the first town to have its police officers trained as drone pilots. The drones are set to respond to car crashes, search and rescue operations, and more.

Throughout regional Western Australia, police officers will be put through a one-week drone course that will ensure they know how to operate the drone and understand the laws.
Four officers from each region – Albany, all the way up north to Broome – will have access to 14 permanent drones, improving response times and coverage without more officers’ need. The one-week training is expected to have been finished by July.
Once officers have completed the training in all participating regions, there will be a total of 60 who can pilot a drone legally. The regions involved are Great Southern, South West, Wheatbelt, Goldfields-Esperance, Mid West-Gascoyne, the Pilbara, and the Kimberley.
Each region is expected to receive two drones, a larger one estimated to be worth around AU$8,000 ($6,192) and a smaller one. Looking at drones used by WA police in the past, a DJI Matrice and a DJI Phantom drone will be used.
Great Southern Police District Acting Superintendent Glenn Spencer added:

We’ll be able to target our searches to specific areas, we’ll also be able to set up our drones to search automatically in an area, which will give us a greater probability of finding the person we are looking for. If we can get a drone up we can get better visibility and a higher probability of detection, which should lead to us finding the person faster.

The drones will be equipped with thermal cameras, allowing nighttime search and rescue missions to take place and ocean missions for missing persons. Rather than replacing current police resources, the drones will allow faster response times and searches to begin in a shorter amount of time.
Photo: Toby Hussey

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Wingcopter raises $22 million in funding round to expand into North America

German drone company Wingcopter has raised $22 million in its latest funding round to expand into North America and advance its technology. The company will also use the funds to strengthen its leadership in the market, deliver COVID-19 vaccines, and launch the next delivery drone.

The company’s latest funding round was led by Xplorer Capital and Futury Regio Growth Fund, with Futury Ventures and Hessen Kapital III participating.
The $22 million in funding will allow Wingcopter to do more in the drone-based logistics space, focusing on COVID-19 relief and delivering vaccines to those who need them the most.
The company’s current drone, the Wingcopter 178 Heavy Lift, will soon be joined by its bigger brother, with some of the funding going into developing a new drone with a more extensive range and payload capacity. The next-generation drone is almost ready to go, with pre-orders being accepted already.
Tom Plümmer, CEO of Wingcopter, shared:

This chapter of our journey is dedicated to setting up logistical highways in the sky that leapfrog traditional means of transportation. Poor infrastructure has always been a barrier, especially for healthcare provision, impacting billions of lives – a situation further exacerbated by COVID-19. With the support and powerful networks of our investors we are taking a huge step closer to fulfilling our vision of creating efficient and sustainable drone solutions that improve and save lives everywhere.

Wingcopter will also increase its manufacturing capabilities with a new 77,500-square-foot facility opened at its new German-based headquarters. The company plans to open a serial production line consisting of many stations for a specific step in the assembly process.
As mentioned above, Wingcopter will open a new US facility to allow flight testing, certification, drone manufacturing, and software development to all be done from the country. In theory, this should enable Wingcopter to offer “Made in USA” drones that satisfy the needs of government agencies.
Jonathan McQueen, cofounder and managing partner of Xplorer Capital, added:

The Wingcopter team combines entrepreneurial spirit with superior technology know-how and looks back on an impressive number of worldwide drone projects. This is what it takes to conquer a rapidly growing market such as the international drone market. We are excited to support Wingcopter on its flight towards becoming a global leader in the international drone business and look forward to working together with the team and founders.

Check out the rest of our coverage on Wingcopter and the amazing work it is doing:
Photo: Wingcopter

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EXCLUSIVE: A look behind London’s huge New Year’s drone light show

On New Year’s Eve, London introduced drones to its fireworks display for the first time. We watched it and loved it so much that we shared it with all of you. We have put together a short exclusive piece on the show’s inner workings with the help of the company behind the drones, SKYMAGIC.

If you haven’t yet had the chance to watch the show, be sure to check out our original post on the show.
The almost nine-minute New Year’s Eve celebration showed off drones in one of the best ways possible, entertaining people.
What went into creating the show?

We worked with Jack Morton, the global brand experience agency that worked in partnership with the Mayor of London’s office, to provide the show’s drone performance element alongside pyrotechnics from Titanium Fireworks and lighting design from Durham Marenghi, all set to music production by On the Sly.

If you have seen the show, you would know that a little more work went into it than some other drone shows. It turns out that the Mayor’s office had a vision in mind for the show, which included all of the special guests featured in it.

In most cases, we design our shows so they can be seen from any angle, like with our Zurich show. In this case, it was designed specifically for television, so everything had to be set up just right to work with the cameras as well as the fireworks that took place alongside our fleet of drones.

Credit: SKYMAGIC
How did you hide the show from the public?
Due to the nature of drone shows, rehearsals are a must, whether they are virtual or physical. For this show, the SKYMAGIC team sent its drones up in the early hours of the morning to hide them from as many people as possible. On top of this, the show’s animation was also created, but nothing beats rehearsing in the real world.
Did the weather play a factor in the show?

Obviously, one of our main concerns was the weather. As they are quite delicate and need to be in exactly the right place for the designs to work, any rain or strong wind would have made the show a no-go. Thankfully, there was no rain on the night, and we had barely any wind for the entire time we were there.

SKYMAGIC was founded in 2015 and has grown to have offices in the UK and Singapore. The team behind this specific show has over 10,000 hours from flying drones across the globe. To ensure the drones perform perfectly, SKYMAGIC developed its swarm software to control drones for indoor and outdoor shows.
Credit: SKYMAGIC
Drone light shows
Drone light shows have been a hit ever since Intel started performing them at major events to show off its technology. Check out the rest of our coverage on drone light shows and the countries using them the most.
What do you think about drone light shows? Would you watch a drone light show considering the benefits they have over fireworks? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Photo: Jack Morton & Kois Miah

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Massive crocodile lunges at drone

A drone pilot who works as a crocodile feeder at a Western Australia park nearly fed his aircraft to the animals when a crocodile lunged at his drone.
Johani Mamid took the incredible video at the Malcolm Douglas Crocodile Park in Broome last month.

The video shows a number of the animals hiding just beneath some duckweed. But when the drone gets too close, they fling themselves out of the water, jaws wide open.
Mamid says he’s surprised at how aggressively the animals reacted.
Still, we are talking about crocodiles here, Mr. Mamid …
‘”I was pretty confident the crocodiles weren’t going to get the drone but that was a risk I was willing to take,’” he told the Daily Mail Australia.
Mamid is a talented videographer and his whole video is worth a view. But if you’re impatient for the lunging, try 0:44, 0:56, 1:30 and especially 1:41.
[embedded content]
Mamid says he’s had a few close calls since starting as a tour guide last year.
“We definitely do fear them because of the level of respect we have for them. They have the strongest bite force out of any animal in the world,” he says. “Their teeth are designed to hold on and never let go.”
Park workers must occasionally check the fencing around the reserve. A two-metre long bamboo stick is their only protection.

“Quite often the crocs will come out and try to attack us,” he says. “We go in pairs and whenever a croc comes near us we just whack them over the head with the bamboo. But sometimes the crocs will take the bamboo stick and then you’re surrounded by like 70 crocodiles. That’s why you go in pairs.”
As part of the visitor experience, the guides show tourists baby crocodiles with elastics wrapped around their mouths. But attaching the elastics is murder since the babies are as aggressive as the adults.
“I’ve been bitten and it hurts. They’re not going to kill you but they have razor sharp teeth and do a bit of a head shake when they bite you,” he says.
Crocodiles lunging at drones is not uncommon
Mamid has a YouTube channel and hopes to help visitors learn more about and respect animals that are nearly as old as dinosaurs and about as friendly.

The reptiles are a constant threat in Australia and authorities use drones to patrol beaches to keep swimmers safe. And this crocodile-lunging- at-drones thing is more common than you’d think:
[embedded content]
And another one:
[embedded content]
The lesson here might be to steer clear of crocodiles and alligators lunging at drones.
But, I think we all know that.

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Canadian company releases video of its low-noise drone props

Let’s face it: A lot of drones are pretty noisy. This is of particular concern for delivery in urban areas. A Canadian company believes it has the answer.

Drone delivery sounds like such a good idea. I mean, who wouldn’t like the of a green way of delivering products to their destination literally within minutes of them being ordered? That’s the promise of drone delivery. But the reality of drone delivery, when it comes at scale, is noise. All of those propellors chopping through the air produce noise. And that whine of propellors can be sufficiently annoying that it could even be a barrier to adoption.
Put simply, people have already pushed back in some areas where drone delivery trials have taken place.
Is there a solution?
A Canadian company, Delson Aeronautics, has been working hard on a low-noise solution to this problem. The company lays out its mission on its website:

We find it inconceivable to think our current means of propulsion are the best we will ever create. If we are to truly realize the aerial future we envision, a fundamental change is required. We envision a future where aircraft soar so silently above they seem as if designed by nature, not human.This is because we believe the closer our technology represents the characteristics of nature, the better our future will be. Therefore, we have developed a novel series of ultra-quiet, high-thrust propulsion systems (patents pending), to truly enable new capabilities in clean aircraft design. Releasing the full potential of electric power.
Delson Aeronautics website

The sound of silence
Well, maybe not silence. But there’s no doubt that Delson Aeronautics founder Michael Deloyer has made impressive progress toward his goal of producing quieter propellors. In fact, Delson has just released a new video that lets you really hear the difference:
[embedded content]
Wow. That’s pretty incredible…
We caught up with Michael Deloyer and asked him a few questions about his product – and his plans.
We began by simply asking what stage of development he’s at. Deloyer says his company is at the “functional prototype” stage, seeking seed funding, pilot projects and a motor manufacturing partner. It seems that the combination of Delson-designed motors and propellors make the synergic difference.
The next step? Deloyer says it’s planning for production, with the goal of producing blades with diameters ranging from 15″ to 28″.
How big is the potential market?
We put this question to Michael. He’s done his research:

(There are) Projected to be 2.2 million delivery drones by 2025 globally – with 274,000 being multi-rotors operating in urban environments in the US & Europe. Average retail of $3k per drone kit (propellers and motors for a hex) with just 5% market capture = $41 million revenue.
Michael Deloyer, Delson Aeronautics

What’s your primary market?

Our primary target is the drone delivery industry as this is where noise will be most critical. Military as a second. Cinematography as a third.
Michael Deloyer, Delson Aeronautics

Is there a loss in efficiency?
Propellors are generally designed to hit the sweet spot for efficiency. Their size, weight, shape, and aerodynamics are all optimized to maximize flight time with appropriate thrust. So surely something must be lost if you’re changing the shape (and we’re assuming that’s part of the deal here). We asked Michael if efficiency takes a hit:

Currently the blades are operating at 4-8% less efficient. This drone specifically tested 41 min. hover with standard (APC MR series) 18″ blades, and 38.5 min. hover with the Delson 18″ blades. The only variable being the blades used. We will be testing against T-Motor blades shortly, though the results will be very similar. We are confident we can close this gap with our improved production blades.
Michael Deloyer, Delson Aeronautics

DroneDJ’s take
We’ve been keeping an eye on Delson Aeronautics. We agree there’s a huge market for a product like this. In fact, the drone delivery sector could really use a solution if it expects the public to embrace the concept. Given a choice between a noisy drone delivering something next door and a much quieter drone…which would you prefer to be flying in your neighborhood? We thought so.
This is, in our minds, a startup that really has a clear focus – and, potentially, the solution to a real pain point. This is the second video we’ve seen from Delson Aeronautics, and we’re impressed.
If you think you might be a potential partner for this project, you can contact Delson Aeronautics or reach out to Michael Deloyer via LinkedIn.

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Hobbyists often spark drone programs: DroneAnalyst

How do drone programs get started? Well, we could guess. Or, with the help of DroneAnalyst, we could rely on some data.

Barely a day goes by when we don’t hear news of another drone business or program. These run a wide gamut; everything from basic imagery and inspections through to large drone fleets that are integral parts of larger businesses. But where do these drone programs come from? How do they get started? More specifically, what are the catalysts for programs that involve the adoption of Enterprise products?
That’s the topic of some new analysis from DroneAnalyst.
How do drone businesses get started?
The drone industry keeps on growing. And when it comes to the adoption of Enterprise drones, you might think these companies (and decisions) originate from the top down. And that’s a reasonable thought: A manager sees the potential for drone use, a decision is made, a drone program begins.
Intuitively, that makes sense. But the data reveals a very different story.
Hobbyists, enthusiasts, and the “bottom-up” approach
New data contained in DroneAnalyst’s 2020 Drone Market Sector Report explores the question, and comes up with some pretty interesting answers. The bottom line? Enterprise drone adoption has been – and continues to be – driven primarily by the hobbyist/consumer market. In other words, most drone programs are the result of a “bottom up” approach, where an enthusiast or hobbyist suggests a business case for launching a drone program.
Here’s what that looks like in infographic form:

That’s pretty interesting data….
As the infographic shows, nearly half of all drone programs were established in an individual’s interest in drones as a hobby.
And that’s not all
According to DroneAnalyst, 68 percent of all drone programs have started this way – with a drone hobbyist identifying how drones could help a company:

These represent “bottom-up” approaches to adoption (and sales) where employees go out of their way to turn their hobby and/or interests into a new business opportunity for their organization. A “top-down” approach would be management (through a sales person’s influence or not) deciding to set a new strategic initiative or budget to adopt a new technology across their organization. Larger organizations may have an innovation department, or require an existing department like an aviation department, to explore new technologies and kickstart the “top-down” adoption of said technology.
DroneAnalyst

This isn’t a new phenomenon
DroneAnalyst data also reveals that this trend has been ongoing. The majority of older drone programs – even programs that have been around for four or more years – were triggered by bottom-up approaches:

Four conclusions
After exploring the data around this question (which is a new entry for the 2020 report), DroneAnalyst reached several conclusions. Here they are:
“Most drone programs were established through “bottom-up” approaches, highlighting the importance of the hobbyist drone market
“Policymakers need to consider impacts to the hobbyist market seriously as they could threaten the speed of commercial adoption of drones
“While we assume “top-down” approaches will take over as solutions mature and brands scale enterprise sales teams, we aren’t seeing that yet
“This helps explain DJI’s allure to enterprise customers, and is a reason why they will remain a threat to commercial players despite Entity addition”
The changing landscape
The global drone sector is changing. And while DJI remains the undisputed market leader, DroneAnalyst has tracked some of the shifts.
Of particular interest is this gif, which shows how the US drone hardware landscape has changed significantly in just three years. Most notably, Skydio has supplanted 3D Robotics.

More about DroneAnalyst
The company produces an annual report that many in the industry regard as the “go-to” for credible industry data and analysis. Because DroneAnalyst has been doing this for a while, it’s also able to spot trends quite clearly because the data shifts over time.
The head of research is David Benowitz, whom many will recall from his Enterprise and marketing work with DJI. David’s a smart guy with an excellent “big picture” view of the global industry and is known for his thoughtful analysis. David has a blog post on the findings we’ve just discussed here.
DroneAnalyst’s 2020 Drone Market Sector Report isn’t inexpensive, but it is exhaustive. For many in the industry, it’s considered the most authoritative report around.
We took a pretty good look at the highlights when the new report was released last month. You’ll find that coverage here.

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Is this drone video of Putin’s “secret” palace?

Is Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny reckless, foolhardy, or courageous? After releasing a slick denunciation featuring drone video of what he says is Russian president Vladimir Putin’s secret palace, he may be a measure of all three.

Navalny is in a Moscow prison, facing charges of violating a suspended sentence. But his supporters released a video, hosted by Navalny, accusing the Russian president of colossal corruption. It features lots of surreptitious drone video of a gigantic palace complex near Gelendzhik, on the Black Sea.  
Described as the “most expensive palace in the world,” the complex spans an area Navalny says is 39 times the size of Monaco. It includes a church, an amphitheater, a teahouse, an ice rink, a casino, and a helipad. There’s a lot of speculation in the video. But Navalny alleges the palace cost about $1.4 billion, funded through an elaborate corruption scheme involving Putin’s inner circle.

Russian opposition leader and video host Alexei Navalny
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the video is “pure nonsense.” He denies the palace is even associated with Putin. But Peskov gave no details on who does own it. Germany’s international broadcaster Deutsche Welle says that on paper, the property appears to belong to billionaire Alexander Ponomarenko.
Nalvany says an outraged contractor leaked the interior shots of Putin’s secret palace.
Putin’s secret palace
We watched the video so you don’t have to:
1:00:40   The Bar
1:01:00   The Theater (with box seats!)
1:04:14  The Casino
1:04:40 A really next race car game
1:05:45   The Bedroom
1:16:12   More drone shots of ANOTHER luxurious dacha
[embedded content]
The video runs for nearly two hours, but we cued it up to the drone shots
“”It is the most secretive and well-guarded facility in Russia, without exaggeration,” Navalny says in the video. “This isn’t a country house, it’s not a cottage, it’s not a residence — it’s an entire city, or rather a kingdom. Its like a separate state inside of Russia. And in this state there is a single and irreplaceable czar: Putin.”
The video of Putin’s secret palace was released soon after authorities detained Navalny upon his return to Russia for the first time since he was poisoned. Navalny claims Putin ordered the assassination, an accusation that the Kremlin denies.
Leonid Volkov, a close ally of Nalvany, believes Navalny’s life remains in danger.
“The situation is very dangerous indeed because, technically and practically, Alexei Navalny is now in the custody of the very people who tried to poison him,” Leonid Volkov told the Washington Post.

The drone that did the snooping
The video ends with a call for Russians to take a stand against the government.
“Putin’s palace. History of world’s largest bribe,” has been seen close to 60 million times at the time of this writing.

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EHang joins EU’s AMU-LED project to demo Urban Air Mobility

EHang, a global leader in the coming market for autonomous, passenger-carrying drones, has announced membership in the Air Mobility Urban – Large Experimental Demonstration projects. This is one of the largest European demonstrations of Urban Air Mobility, and another step on the path toward drones carrying people.

The AMU-LED project is a significant one. Initiated by the European Union, there are 17 major players taking part in the consortium, including EHang, Airbus, and Boeing. EHang, if you haven’t heard, is considered the leader in the world of autonomous drones that can carry passengers. Its model is specifically aimed at urban centers, and a future when people can summon a drone to a common pick-up or drop-off point with the same ease with which they can now call an Uber.
Just picture that.
AMU-LED
First, let’s take a look at what the project is about. This explanation comes from the EHang news release:

The AMU-LED is an H2020 project of the European Union framed in the SESAR (Single European Sky ATM Research) Joint Undertaking, with the ultimate goal of showcasing one of the largest demonstrations of mobility services with air vehicles and the safe integration of different types of drone operations, otherwise known as U-space, in urban environments to realize increasingly sustainable, smart cities by 2022.  Planned for two years with more than 100 flight hours, the AMU-LED will kick off in January 2021 showcasing various use cases for passenger transport in air taxis, cargo transport, delivery of goods and medical equipment, inspection of infrastructures, police surveillance, and emergency services support. Through the AMU-LED program, EHang will increase its interaction with European regulatory bodies including EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) and EUROCONTROL.  This cooperative effort should pave the way for the formulation of relevant UAM policies and standards and contribute to the implementation of UAM in Europe. 

The EHang H216
Chinese company EHang, of course, is becoming well-known for its H216 “Autonomous Aerial Vehicle,” or AAV. The company has some 10,000 incident-free flights under its belt, including many flights where passengers have flown in the vehicle.
As part of the AMU-LED project, EHang will run trial flights during 2022, including flights in the UK, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Participation in the AMU-LED project will enable EHang to demonstrate the benefits of its leading AAV products and technology platform solutions.  EHang products enable smart city management, shorten the travel time of both people and goods, and reduce air pollution and traffic accidents.  EHang believes the AMU-LED is a great opportunity to demonstrate the promise of autonomous air taxis and further inspire the global UAM community to develop new product innovations and enabling legal frameworks.
EHang news release

The EHang vision
The company has plans that go well beyond the odd H216. It envisions a sophisticated infrastructure that looks, in this company video, both ambitious and futuristic. But wow, it’s cool:
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EHang’s vision…
DroneDJ’s Take
Urban Air Mobility is coming. It will start with the safe delivery of goods in urban centers, expanding to on-demand passenger-carrying drones.
Of course, Unmanned Traffic Management – the safe integration of manned and unmanned air traffic – will be a big part of the equation. Work is well under way on that front, and projects like AMU-LED will only push the needle further.
Yes, all of this looks pretty sci-fi. But trust us: The future is on its way.

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FAA’s BEYOND drone initiative welcomes new partners

The North Dakota Department of Transportation and Northern Plains UAS Test Site has partnered with industry leaders, including Skydio, Volansi, SkySkopes, iSight Drone Services, Airspace Link, Equinor, Workhorse, and Xcel Energy, to execute the FAA’s BEYOND program goals.

The FAA’s BEYOND program has hit a major achievement today after the North Dakota Department of Transportation and Northern Plains UAS Test Site brought on many industry players to ensure the program’s goals are met.
The FAA wants to tackle the remaining challenges with its BEYOND initiative, with the main one being beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations that can be repeated, scaled, and be economically viable, focusing on infrastructure inspection, public operations, and small package delivery.
NDDOT director Bill Panos shared:

We are incredibly excited to announce our partnerships with such innovative companies from within North Dakota and across the country. Partnerships like this keep us at the cutting edge of UAS advancements.

The program will also look at leveraging industry operations to improve analysis and quantify drone operations’ societal and economic benefits. Another big issue is the community’s perception of drones and will include data collection to see what can be done.
Rather than operating under waivers, BEYOND focuses on currently established rules and laws to collect accurate data to develop more accurate standards. The BEYOND program will collect and address community feedback, understand the societal and community benefits of drones, and streamline the approval process for drone integration.
Nicholas Flom, executive director of NPUASTS, added:

It’s incredibly advantageous that North Dakota is a powerhouse in UAS. Having BEYOND and Vantis in the same location, and having the expertise and reputation to draw these leaders in commercial UAS operations in, means that we are well-positioned to execute the goals of BEYOND.

This combination of forces is a big deal as the North Dakota Department of Transportation and Northern Plains UAS Test Site is the driving force behind the Vantis statewide BVLOS network currently being built in the state. The network aims to enable commercial drone flights across the state and provide a framework for the rest of the states to implement a similar network.
A full list of the partners and what they have to offer the program when required:
Airspace Link, an FAA-approved UAS Service Supplier of Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC), focused on meeting the needs of state and local governments and ensuring UAS pilots can make informed decisions;
Equinor, an energy company developing oil, gas, wind, and solar energy in more than 30 countries, including a strong presence in North Dakota;
iSight Drone Services, the first private UAS company in North Dakota, providing professional UAS operations, setting the bar on scalable and mature operations management;
Skydio, a leading US manufacturer of autonomous, small UAS that use artificial intelligence to see and understand their surroundings and intelligently navigate complex environments for industrial inspections and public safety;
SkySkopes, a professional drone service provider based in North Dakota that is focused on bringing innovative solutions to the energy sector;
Volansi, a commercial manufacturer and operator of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) autonomous flight systems that are focused on airworthiness and certification;
Workhorse, an autonomous solutions provider supporting airworthiness, certification, and operations support, primarily for package delivery;
Xcel Energy, a leading organization, using autonomous technologies in support of energy technologies and energy delivery.
Photo: Josh Spires, FAA, and Vantis

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MQ-9B Reaper variant to receive modular pod system to release swarm drones

General Atomics B maritime variant of its famous MQ-9 Reaper drone is set to receive a new pod system, allowing it to deploy smaller drones. The modular pods will allow the drone to be quickly equipped with a mission-related payload to improve the drone’s usefulness.

In November of last year, the pod system was tested with the standard MQ-9 Reaper model in collaboration with the US Navy. During the test, the dispenser pod released Sonobuoys, while another carried other anti-submarine systems.
The MQ-9B variant of the drone is a maritime version that meets NATO standards. It is used for various missions, including anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, search and rescue, humanitarian relief, law enforcement, and oceanic security measures.
Essentially the drone has been designed with the harsh environment of the ocean in mind, with hardware and software upgrades to keep it in the air.
Last year, an infographic released by the company showed off the full list of publicly known modules compatible with the Reaper drones. The list included electronic warfare systems, patrol radars, laser communications links, and, most interestingly, the launcher pod.
The launcher pod is currently only capable of releasing 10 Sonobuoys, essentially shot out of the drone. It is expected that the launcher pod will soon be able to release drones and guided missiles. Focusing on the drones, the pod would allow a swarm of smaller drones to be released to hit a target, protect the larger reaper drone, or provide surveillance from various angles.

MQ-9 Reaper
The MQ-9 Reaper, commonly known as the Predator B, has a maximum flight speed of 300 miles per hour and a cruising speed of 194 miles per hour. The drone can stay in the air for up to 14 hours when fully loaded, thanks to the Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engineer pumping out 900 horsepower.
The Reaper holds a combined payload weight of 3,800 pounds, with 800 pounds of it being stored internally and the other 3,000 pounds external. The drone has seven hardpoints that allow various ammunitions to be mounted to it and can accommodate a maximum of four Hellfire missiles, soon to be eight, and two Paveway 2 laser-guided bombs.
You can read more of our coverage of the MQ-9 Reaper below:
Photo: General Atomics

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UAE signs deal to purchase 18 MQ-9 Reaper drones and more

According to Reuters, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has reportedly signed two deals with the United States to purchase 18 MQ-9 Reaper drones and 50 F-35 fighter jets. It is also reported that one of the deals was signed right before Biden officially took office, prompting him to look over the deal.

Reuters attained information from sources who shared that the deal is expected to see the order go through no sooner than 2027.
It was also shared that this deal was a part of an agreement the United States made with the country, which said it would allow it to purchase the aircraft if it normalized its relations with Israel.
The two deals, one for the jets and the other for the drones, are a part of the United Arab Emirates’ effort to modernize its military while receiving high-tech equipment to protect itself better. The drone deal is also the largest of its kind for a single country to purchase so many drones at a single time.
MQ-9 Reaper
The MQ-9 Reaper, commonly known as the Predator B, has a maximum flight speed of 300 miles per hour and a cruising speed of 194 miles per hour. The drone can stay in the air for up to 14 hours when fully loaded, thanks to the Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engineer pumping out 900 horsepower.
The Reaper holds a combined payload weight of 3,800 pounds, with 800 pounds of it being stored internally and the other 3,000 pounds external. The drone has seven hardpoints that allow various ammunitions to be mounted to it and can accommodate a maximum of four Hellfire missiles, soon to be eight, and two Paveway two-laser-guided bombs.
You can read more of our coverage of the MQ-9 Reaper below:
Photo: Leslie Pratt

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These DJI Mini 2 videos show why it’s such an impressive drone

There is no doubt the DJI Mini 2 is an impressive drone, but we thought we’d still share some awesome videos from the community. The following four videos are what we think are perfect for showing the Mini 2’s versatility.

If you would like us to check out your video and possibly share it in a future post, feel free to drop the link in the comments below or send it to me on Twitter @JoshSpires_.
While the below flights look amazing, please remember to always follow the drone laws in your area. Doing so will ensure your drone’s safety, the people below, and other aircraft that could be nearby. Please head over to this post to learn more about the drone laws.
A great sunrise
The first video on the list is from Reddit user danielparkmusic. It is a simple QuickShot that captures the amazing sunrise reflecting on the water and leaving the long shadow behind the man we assume is Daniel. Sometimes complex shots aren’t always needed to create a great video.

A chilling view
The footage captured by this DJI Mini 2 owner truly shows what this drone is capable of. This orbital QuickShot shows what it’s like to be at the top of a wind turbine during the winter. It looks like the footage is captured by a worker on a recent job. There is a good chance that the worker wanted to have a little fun or used the drone to perform an inspection. Either way, a great video!

A collection of clips
The last video on this list shows a range of clips from above a forest to the ocean. The pilot also managed to capture some pretty amazing colors created by nature. This truly shows the amazing quality the newly Mini 2 is capable of outputting and how it can be used.
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DJI Mini 2
The DJI Mini 2 is the drone giant’s second attempt at a sub-250-gram drone. The whole purpose of such a drone is that it allows anyone to fly without having to register the drone with authorities, making it cheaper to fly. The Mini 2 improves over the original Mavic Mini with a new 4k 30 fps sensor and captures RAW photos. DJI has also increased the flight time by one minute from 30 to 31 minutes.
The new Mini 2 has also gained new and improved motors that allow it to fly in stronger winds and fly faster. Most impressively, though, the DJI Mini 2 can now fly up to 10 kilometers away, thanks to the inclusion of DJI’s OcuSync 2.0 transmission technology. That makes it the perfect budget drone for everyone.
Check out some of our latest DJI Mini 2 coverage below:
Photo: danielparkmusic, Jrellek, and Toushif Hossain

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Top 5 drone manufacturers in India announced by IoT Expo India

The Internet of Things (IoT) Expo India has shared its list of the top five drone manufacturers in the country. The list includes Aarav Unmanned Systems, 1 Martian Way, ideaForge, Drone Tech Lab, and Aero360.

The top five list has been created by India’s leading IoT and emerging technologies expo. It allows companies, startups, and individuals to network and create partnerships to further the country’s technology.
The expo will be held in New Delhi, from March 24-26, and will allow visitors and exhibitors to experience the expo in person for the first time since the pandemic.
Aarav Unmanned Systems
Aarav Unmanned Systems (AUS) was founded in 2013 and was the first to integrate drones into the mapping and surveying world. The company has now developed its own drone designed to survey and map operations while removing the need for ground-based control points.
The Insight PPK drone has a 30-minute flight time and can fly up to 3 km (1.8 miles) away. The drone is accurate down to 3 cm and utilizes the PPK or Post-Processing Kinematics standard for processing the data it collects. As the name states, this means the data is processed, and results are generated after the data is collected, unlike RTK or Real-Time Kinematics.
1 Martian Way
Ever since I’ve been interested in drones, I have known about 1 Martian Way. The company was founded in 2014 and started by creating innovative drone solutions to allow companies to work efficiently. One that I can remember off the top of my head is drone advertising. One of the company’s drones would fly with a banner attached via a string below as a way to advertise a product or service.
A few years later, the company pivoted and turned into a platform provider for other companies to use with their or others drones. It currently offers four platforms that range from asset change detection using images captured by drones to tracking drone fleets to ensure they are working safely and as intended.
ideaForge
A company we have spoken about in the past, ideaForge, has a large line of custom-built drones for everything from announcements to surveillance to mapping. If you need something done by a drone, there’s a good chance ideaForge can provide the right drone for the job. The company was founded in 2007, making it one of the oldest by IIT-Bombay alumni.
The company’s most notable drone has to be its Switch UAV, ranging up to 15 km (9 miles). It can stay in the air for up to 120 minutes on a single charge and withstand winds of up to 20 kph (12 mph). The drone comes with a dual-sensor payload, a 720p camera with 25x optical zoom, and a 480p thermal camera is used during night-time operations. The company recently signed a $20 million deal with the Indian Army to use the drone on the battlefield.
Drones Tech Lab
Drones Tech Lab was founded a couple of years ago and currently offers all the drone-related services you can think of. With its range of surveillance, agricultural drones, swarming software, and counter-drone solutions, the company has been dominating the local market and, in return, has risen to the top of the space.
Most notably, the company offers solutions for and against drones, an interesting but ingenious approach. This allows the company to offer a drone solution to those that require it while offering a counter-drone solution to stop rogue drones.
Aero360
Aero360 was found in 2017 by Pragadish Santhosh, who is the CEO of the company. The company has worked with the massive Tata Group and the Indian government. The company’s free-flight drone is powered by a hybrid engine that allows it to fly for around three hours and carry payloads of up to 3 kg (6.6 lbs).
The company recently released its first tethered drone after creating add-on kits for common DJI drones. The drone is created out of a carbon fiber frame and has folding arms and electric landing gear that folds away in flight. It is equipped with an advanced transmission system and can go up to 70 meters (230 feet) high with the tether.
Photo: Internet of Things India

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Is LA’s jetpack guy a drone? New FAA documents suggest maybe…

We’ve been kind of obsessed with jetpack guy since he was first spotted last summer near Los Angeles International Airport. Now, new information has come to light that suggests it could well be a drone.

Jetpack guy first landed on our radar late last summer. On August 30, a flight on final approach to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) reported seeing a man flying a jetpack at something like 3,000′. There was another sighting, culminating in December with video taken from a small aircraft that appeared to show jetpack guy at it again.
And now? A very new development.
Is it a person or a drone?
Back in our coverage of the jetpack guy video, we suggested it might be possible this was a drone. In fact, we further suggested that it would be unlikely that a jetpack could reach 3,000′ and sustain flight at that altitude, given the limitations to fuel that can be carried by the pilot.
Now, information from internal FAA documents offers some suggestion what may have been spotted was a drone, not a person.
What do the documents tell us?
The story came to our attention via The Black Vault – a website that specializes in exposing government secrets. It made a Freedom of Information request to the FAA. The result was a treasure trove of documents and internal communications.
If you’d like to pore through all of those docs, do indeed check out The Black Vault. For our purposes, we’ll concentrate on a few key nuggets from that haul.
Three key facts
We read through the Black Vault documents. And we were struck by three key facts.
Radar did not detect jetpack guy. It’s unclear from the communications whether radar is sensitive enough to pick up a person flying a jetpack…but a lightweight drone with an inflatable body would almost certainly evade the system:

FAA correspondence indicates there was no corresponding radar data
2. Jetpacks tend to fly close to the ground. A person flying a jetpack has to carry both the gear and the fuel. Any flights we’ve seen have been close to the ground. And when the FAA put this question to a local company with jetpack expertise, they were told that as well: It’s unlikely a jetpack would be flying at that altitude.

Hmmm…the plot thickens.
3. A pilot said it looked like a jetpack drone.
This is the point that really caught our attention. One of the emails says the American Airlines pilot who sighted jetpack guy described what he saw as looking like an unusual drone; a drone that is intended to look like a guy flying a jetpack:

Let’s check out that video
Here it is. And wow, it sure would look like a jetpack guy. Right size, too:
[embedded content]
This is starting to seem like a more logical explanation…
Compare that, for what it’s worth, with this video captured in December. The resolution isn’t great, but it certainly makes more sense that a drone would be flying at this heigh versus a human:

What do you think?
The saga continues
It was basically a month ago that jetpack guy was last sighted. We’re guessing he’ll resurface again.
We’re also guessing, bolstered by the finds of The Black Vault, that “he” is actually a drone.

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Can your drone match these UK speed records?

A national UK drone club has an ongoing competition among its members: Whose drone holds the speed record? We’ll take a look at the records, and learn about the background behind this good-natured rivalry.

A lot of us like to go full throttle from time to time. Flying a drone quickly is a blast, and it’s always interesting to see what speed you can attain. A national drone club in the UK has taken this a step further. It maintains a leaderboard of the fastest flights for each model of drone among its members. We thought it would be interesting to look at the story behind that leaderboard, along with the record speeds. Interestingly, we wound up in contact with the club after its founder came across our story yesterday about that mind-blowing speed record achieved by a “Dynamic Soaring” glider.
So: On your marks, get set, Read!
The Grey Arrows drone club
The Grey Arrows drone club describes itself as “The Premier Club for UK Drone Enthusiasts.” It was started by Rich Kavanagh, who was kind enough to answer a few questions for DroneDJ. We started with just a basic one about how and why the club came about.

I started the Grey Arrows Drone Club back in August 2017 so we’ve been around for 3.5yrs or so.  The reason for starting it was simply because there wasn’t a UK-wide club. There were a few smaller, regional clubs, but nothing that catered for everyone in the UK. We’re at just over 6k members now. 
Rich Kavanagh

Rich loves to fly drones, and has a pretty impressive collection:

Rich Kavanagh sent us this photo. Nice fleet!

I’ve been flying drones for about five years now. My go-to drones are now the Autel Evo II Pro as it “just works” and doesn’t force me to update the firmware every time I turn it on,  and the second go-to is the DJI Mini 2.  It’s portability is amazing, it literally fits in your pocket. It’s also now an ideal drone for flying here in the UK as the regulations changed quite significantly on 1st Jan this year (re EASA, etc).
Rich Kavanagh

And the leaderboard?
We asked Rich how it got started:

The “Breaking the Speed Limit” leaderboard started as a bit of fun in the summer of 2018. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have a Drone Code in place which all drone operators must adhere to and some of the rules and restrictions are quite strict, and rightly so. However, the one thing the Drone Code doesn’t enforce is the speed at which you’re allowed to fly a drone. So just for a bit of fun, we set up a leaderboard to first of all find out which make and model drone is the fastest, but to also introduce bit of a challenge with our members to see who has the fastest drone. It’s grown organically from there.
Rich Kavanagh

How do you verify speeds?

When we first started we would just ask for a screen shot from DJI GO4 or whatever app people were using. However, every now and then you get the odd GPS error – just for a split second or so – but it meant the recorded top speed of that flight was often crazy high for that drone model. Eg. A DJI Spark topping 70mph. To rule out such errors, and as people got more competitive, we now ask for a flight log to be submitted with all entries.
Rich Kavanagh

Some of the data you’ll see in a typical leaderboard posting…
Let’s take a look at the records
The records are all on the club’s Breaking the Speed Limit page. Here are screen grabs of the current records:

See your drone model in there?

And there you have it…
Wait a minute – I’m faster than that!
Are you? Then you might qualify for bragging rights, or at least for a Speed Freak badge, if you submit your data to the Grey Arrows Drone Club.
Sorry, only results for UK residents will be posted to the leaderboard.

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Hydrogen fuel cell offers drones up to two-hour flights

A South Korean company says its fuel cell technology provides enough energy to sustain two-hour drone flights. And it says it’s already made flights to prove it.

Battery technology holds great promise – and great limitations – for drones. The energy density of internal combustion fuels is far greater than for batteries, meaning one pound of kerosene will get you a lot farther than a battery of the equivalent weight. But manufacturers of drones, along with the people who use them, are always looking for the next big breakthrough: An electric drone that can fly substantially longer missions than current battery technology would allow.
And that’s where fuel cell technology could play a key role.
What are fuel cells?
At its simplest, a fuel cell uses chemical energy to cleanly and efficiently create electrical energy. Perhaps the best-known model uses hydrogen, creating byproducts of heat and water vapor. They’re suitable, according to this US government website, for everything from small products like laptops right up to large-scale power generation.
But what about drones? Well, a South Korean firm has announced that it has produced a fuel-cell power pack that could keep an electric drone in the air for more than two hours.
South Korean company pushes the envelope
The company, called Doosan Mobility Innovation, says its new fuel cell powerpack has an energy density much greater than a standard LiPo battery:

The fuel cell powerpack has greater energy density than a LiPo battery…
The Powerpack
The DP30 powerpack, says the company, can provide enough energy for more than two hours of flight time, with a charging time of less than 10 minutes.

The Doosan DP30. You’d integrate this unit onto your drone…
The company’s website also explains, technically, that it made some breakthroughs to reduce the powerpack’s weight:

For bipolar plates, which take up the largest portion of the stack’s weight, we applied ultrathin metal developed with our proprietary technology and successfully reduced the total weight. A key material used in the stack is MEA (Membrane Electrode Assembly). This enables high energy output and durability for our fuel cell Powerpack. And thanks to the design of the stack structure, which maintains even energy output among cells, high energy output of the fuel cell Powerpack remains stable during flight.

Use-case scenarios
The DP30 has to be integrated onto your existing drone, and it’s not going to be pocket change (the price is not listed on Doosan’s website). It’s also relatively large. So we’d anticipate this would only be used for Enterprise/Industrial applications. Think long-range surveillance or delivery, using a larger drone.
How large? Well, just look at the specs.

This is definitely made for professional applications…
The powerpack, when coupled with a hydrogen tank, weighs more than 27 pounds.
You get a better sense of the system in this company video:
[embedded content]
Doosan’s hydrogen fuel-cell is put to good use in this demonstration…
Being able to fly a relatively large drone for more than two hours is no small feat. We look forward to seeing where fuel-cell technology takes drones in the years to come.

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Altitude Angel joins EU initiative for the future of air mobility

Altitude Angel has announced it has joined an EU initiative by the name of AMU-LED, focusing on the future of air mobility. The European Commission created the initiative, which has the job of demonstrating how drones can be safely integrated into the skies.

The AMU-LED project will be built over the next two years to demonstrate air mobility services with drones by 2022. Data collected during the two-year period will also be presented to regulatory bodies to influence future regulations.
The locations for these showcase flights have already been selected as Santiago de Compostela in Spain; Cranfield in the United Kingdom; and Amsterdam and Rotterdam in the Netherlands.
Over the next two years, it is expected that the drones will have a combined total flight time of 100 test hours to ensure all scenarios, use cases, and applications are explored, including air taxi operations, cargo transport, delivery of goods and medical equipment, an inspection of infrastructures, police surveillance, and emergency services support.
Using these tests and simulations, the initiative will present ways to help combat congestion on roads, improve transportation of people and goods, reduce travel times and pollution, improve efficiency, and lower accident rates.
The project is a combined effort from 16 other companies in the drone space, including Airbus, AirHub, ANRA Technologies, Boeing Research & Technology-Europe, FADA-CATEC, Cranfield University, EHang, ENAIRE, Gemeente Amsterdam, INECO, ITG, Jeppesen, NLR, Space53, and Tecnalia. 
About Altitude Angel
The news comes after Altitude Angel announced its Drone Zone, which will be around 8 kilometers (5 miles) in length and 500 meters (0.3 miles) wide with enhanced detect-and-avoid capabilities. The drone zone will be operated and managed by Altitude Angel. It can support fully automated drone flights beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) from any drone manufacturer that complies with a few technical integrations without the need for specialist hardware.
The company also announced a partnership with Sky-Drones that allows its unmanned traffic management (UTM) platform, Pop-Up UTM, to be quickly set up when and where required, removing the need for building ground-based infrastructure. A few months ago, Altitude Angel welcomed its first partner to the program, Spark Mobility, and later added Sugu Drones.
The system will specifically be deployed where a beyond visual line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone flight is taking place and removes the need for infrastructure on the ground to be built. Pop-Up UTM also utilizes Inmarsat’s global network of satellites, meaning the system can be deployed worldwide.
GuardianUTM allows software developers and drone manufacturers to access tools and data that are accurate, up-to-date, and relevant to better understand active and past drone missions. The platform helps drone pilots follow local flight rules and avoid midair collisions with a dynamic alert system. GuardianUTM also includes data from local air authorities such as altitude restrictions, No-Fly Zones, and NOTAMs to ensure operations are as safe as possible.
Photo: Altitude Angel

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