Posts tagged "DJI"

Share on Facebook

Tweet on Twitter

Somewhere between the Mavic and the foldable Spark (admit it, the Spark was a little disappointing), DJI has revealed the new ultraportable, high-quality camera drone, Mavic Air. Available for pre-order at $799, the Mavic Air boasts some of the best features and capabilities of both the Mavic, and the Spark, as well as a few new super-cool features of its own.

  • 3-Axis Gimbal Camera
  • 32 MP Sphere Panoramas
  • 4K 100 Mbps Video
  • Slow-Motion Video
  • HDR Photos
  • 8 GB Internal Storage
  • 3D Foldable Design
  • Foldable Remote Controller
  • ActiveTrack
  • QuickShots (such as Asteroid and Boomerang)
  • SmartCapture
  • FlightAutonomy 2.0

For full specs and capabilities, or to pre-order yours now, visit

We’re excited to see what the new Mavic Air can really do!




Previous articleDJI’s Latest Drone Leaks Ahead of Launch

Share on Facebook

Tweet on Twitter

by Matt Burns (@mjburnsy) of TechCrunch

DJI is supposed to announce a new drone tomorrow but this appears to be it. Called the Mavic Air, the small drone looks to be a combo of foldable Mavic Pro and the affordable Spark. I’m interested.

According to DroneDJ, the small drone will have four foldable legs, a 4k camera, 3-way gimbal and a obstacle-avoidance system. But what about the price and range? DJI will likely reveal those details at the event tomorrow morning.

Read more here.




Previous articleThe Drone Market Environment Map – These companies will disrupt 2018

So you want to pick your first drone to start capturing beautiful photos and images like never before.

There’s an important distinction you must make when choosing a camera drone, at least if you care for not spending more money than what’s necessary.

In this guide I’ll try to help you understand the things you might want most in a drone, how expensive these are and what features might end up being just gimmicks for you.

If you want to get straight to buying your camera drone and are low on cash, better check out my top 7 camera drones under $200, trust me, you can’t go wrong with this.

What are you going to do with it?

There are many uses to a flying device with a camera attached to it. You can spy with a drone (actually that would not be feasible at all), you can take nice shots for your vacation or do some cool real estate video.

There’s simply to many uses to list, but here are the main categories of people who want such a drone:

  1. Professionals – who use the drone to make money either by enhancing their video or photo creations with an aerial shot or by inspecting certain hard to reach places and making money that way.
  2. The weekend amateur– most people fall in this category, they want a drone because it’s fun to fly and see their town from the air. Maybe they want to create a short video and post it on Facebook or show their friends where their grandparents live in the mountains.

Both these categories of people can save money on their drones, albeit the professionals might want to spend more if they intend to have a better final product.

What are the Most important features in a drone you should care about?

These are the things you should put the most emphasis when picking a camera drone. In the section bellow I’ll tell you which features might be an overkill for you and which you might need the most.


I always start with this part, because, let’s face it, drones are pretty much flying cameras and you’re interesting mostly in capturing good video that will impress or be useful.

An important feature of a drone camera (and sometimes cameras in general) is stabilization.

In most drones this is achieved with a 3 axis gimbal that work just like a chicken head to hold the camera in the same spot.

Below there’s a comparison between a stabilized video and a non-stabilized one

[embedded content]

You can see that the image of the camera behind the gimbal is shaky, but the one on the right (filmed on the gimbal) is very smooth and cinematic.

Some bad news…

The gimbal is usually one of the most expensive parts of a drone, so the price will increase (by at least $100).

There are many drones who come with a gimbal already included with the camera and drone. DJI Drones have very high quality stabilization, but they tend to be rather expensive.


Do you really need to spend money on stabilization?

Not necessarily…

If you want to just capture aerial imagery and happen to have a gopro(or any action camera) lying around you might want to look into a cheaper drone under $100 that can hold an action camera. The best one by far I can think about is the MJX Bugs 3, that not only can fly 200m in range, but also has powerful brushless motors.

Here’s a video showing what you can do with a little effort and no gimbal:

[embedded content]

What about camera resolution?

If you’re an amateur and want to take nice looking video, resolution might be your last concern. I’d suggest you get a drone that has at least FULL HD resolution (But most drones over $100 these days can do it).

There’s also the option of combining an action camera with a drone like we saw before.

Personally, I record at 2.7k resolution with my DJI Mavic so I can get a little more detail and be able to zoom in if I need to.

Why don’t I record in 4k, you ask?

The higher the resolution, the harder it is for a computer to edit such footage. So, I prefer the middle ground and keep my workflow smoother. Most people still don’t have 4k monitors, and trust me, 2.7k is enough…. Heck… 1080p might be enough for years to come.

Do real estate videos require more than 1080p drone video?

I’d say no, most of the time, but you should make sure the video is will stabilized and the quality of the footage is good enough.

Resolution is not all when it comes to final video quality

When buying a drone, especially if you want to use the footage commercially, you should check the sensor size and aperture of a drone. These two things will insure the footage is not grainy in low light.

Sensor size should be higher and the aperture number as low as possible. For example, DJI Mavic (price $1000) has an aperture of f2.2, which is pretty good in low light, but a Phantom 4 Professional has a bigger sensor, which makes it superior in dim environments.

Is GPS and long range worth in a camera drone?

GPS can be a life saver sometimes, but good GPS modules will also be adding quite a lot to your drone. The cheapest GPS drone that I know of which also works great is the MJX Bugs 2 or the Hubsan 501S, but keep in mind they don’t have stabilized cameras.

What can GPS do for you?

GPS will ensure your drone will not fly away and stay in a spot without you needed to constantly adjust the sticks at the first wind blow.

It can also return your drone to home when signal is lost.

This is why bigger range is also important!

If you have a range of let’s say 50m, you might not even realize when signal is lost, and if the drone doesn’t have a GPS module, it will probably drop from the sky or do a flyaway.

In terms of range, I’d say 200m is enough if you want just to scout around the neighborhood or get some shots at the beach.

Personally, I couldn’t do without at least 500m, simply because sometimes I want to capture the bigger picture or explore places I can’t go to by foot.


Now, let’s finish this article with my recommendations for different price ranges of drones and what I think you should buy:

  1. <$100 – MJX Bugs 3 – a powerful quadcopter that can hold an action camera and the battery lasts for 15 minutes
  2. >$200 – Hubsan 501s or Bugs 2 – both with GPS connection, over 1 km range and Full HD Cameras (not stabilized)
  3. >$400 – Xiaomi 4k drone – This is the lowest price I would go if you want all the features we’ve talked about. This drone is very good for the price, but it can be pretty big compared to others.
  4. >$500 – DJI Spark – Very small and inconspicuous drone that shoots stabilized video, takes 4k photos and more. It has a lot of gimmicks that can be interesting, but if you’re tight on a budget I don’t recommend it.
  5. >$1000 – DJI Mavic – My top pick at this price – Has all the nice features, cool flying modes, smart sensors, amazing 4k camera and is super compact. But yea, not everyone can afford it, and that’s not a problem.
  6. >$1600 – Phantom 4 pro – If you’re a professional and want to record in low light environments and capture very high quality footage, this is it.

Share on Facebook

Tweet on Twitter

3DR has been busy lately. They’ve recently added Pix4D processing to their capabilities, and have just announced an upcoming integration with DJI drones. 3DR has a stated aspiration to make Site Scan the complete drone solution for construction and engineering professionals across the world.

With that goal in their sights, 3DR has just introduced another set of new features to Site Scan Manager. They’ve added three new ways to visualize your elevation data: Elevation Models, Hillshades, and Cut and Fill Maps. These viewers will help you get actionable, detailed information about your jobsite.

Elevation Model: With this model, you can turn your elevation data into a heatmap in order to quickly understand and verify elevation across your site. This is crucial, for example, when you need to know which way drainage water will flow and what areas of your site will require the most grading. You can adjust the altitude ranges to view the area that you’re most interested in, and change the opacity as well.

Hillshade: Need to clearly identify the 3D objects in your orthomosaic? The hillshade viewer makes it easy, providing a grayscale 3D image of your jobsite, with the position of the sun taken into account to ensure proper shading.

Cut and Fill Map: In addition to cut and fill calculations, now you can easily set your desired grading elevation and then view a high-resolution cut and fill map to know exactly how much work needs to be done.




Previous article190 Commercial Drone Companies to Showcase Latest UAV Technology at InterDrone
Selfie DroneSelfie drones give your narcissism wings, but luckily they can do more.

At CES 2017 you couldn’t get away from selfie drones. Everywhere you looked there was your very own aerial camera that quite literally brought narcissism to new heights.

It’s hardly been six months, but this space is moving so fast there has already been some shake-ups. One of the most anticipated selfie drones has crashed (Lily drone) and just two weeks ago DJI, the biggest player in the world of drones, plopped down its considerable presence on the overcrowded couch of selfie drones. And let’s not forget that it was the selfie drone that finally got the attention of the world’s largest consumer electronics brand—now you can buy one in any Apple store.

What is it about the selfie drone anyway? Are they the latest tech fad that will reel in money for a year or two and then fade away? Maybe, but I think there’s a lot more to selfie drones than dollar signs and social media buzz.

Selfie drones are important because they serve as the new testing ground for technologies that are vital to the future of drones like miniaturization, autonomous flight, machine learning (gesture commands), and interfacing with the life of an average person (social media). A selfie drone is the fastest way to get new drone technology into the hands of average people and see the interaction of this technology with normal life.

Who Said Smaller Isn’t Better

As with any technology, miniaturization is important. Over time you can do more with the same amount of space. Drones are no different. The new DJI Spark weighs 70% less and is only 1/3 of the size of the Phantom 2 drone I keep on my shelf for posterity’s sake. Even with these reductions, the Spark manages to offer a 12 megapixel camera, advanced GPS/GLONASS satellite positioning, a 3D sensing system, and computer vision—none of which the Phantom 2 has.

The DJI Spark has a lot of technology crammed into its small frame. (Source : DJI)

Zerotech’s Dobby is even lighter and, in fact, small enough to fit into the breast pocket of a button-up shirt. While its specs are not as impressive as the Spark’s, the story of its “insides” is really a story about how miniaturization is key to unlocking the true potential of drones.

To make the Dobby, Zerotech partnered with Qualcomm. The key to miniaturizing the drone was making an integrated chip that could fit into a mini motherboard and be able to handle CPU, imaging, communications, GPS, artificial intelligence, and remote control functions. Zerotech had not worked with integrated chips before so there were some issues getting their drone tech to operate correctly. It took months of engineers banging around problems, but eventually the Dobby came into being.

Dobby is arguably not the best drone on the market, but both Zerotech and Qualcomm view it as a transitional product on the path to the drones of tomorrow. They have proven they can integrate and reduce size which will make drones a powerful computing platform for the sky. In five years, drones the size of the Dobby and Spark will be more powerful than larger drones today. Sensors will be smaller, processors will be smaller, power sources will be smaller—all because of selfie drones.

Autonomy at the Touch of a Button

Selfie drones didn’t create the idea of autonomous drone flight and they are not the main factor pushing this technology forward. But they are playing their part and are the way most people will become familiar with the reality of autonomous drone flight.

Their contribution can be traced back to 3DR’s Iris+ drone which, when launched in 2014, was the first widely available commercial drone with a “follow me” function. Every selfie drone today can do this in addition to course lock, go to a point of interest, active tracking, as well as preset movements for shots. With the push of a button selfie drones can become autonomous by using a combination of computer vision and software.

This technology is not unique to selfie drones, but just think how many millions of people around the world are going to be introduced to autonomous drone flight just because they want the ultimate selfie.

Signing with Robots

Another selling feature of most selfie drones is the ability to be controlled by gestures. With a wave of your hand you can command a drone to do everything from fly away from you to take a picture. Like with autonomous flight features, the ability to command with gestures is pretty limited and sometimes buggy, but that’s not why I am mentioning it.

[embedded content]

The fact that drone manufacturers were able to cram machine learning and intelligence features into something so small is impressive. But more than anything else, it’s a way to introduce consumers to the concept of using gestures to command drones. Researchers around the world are working on drones that can autonomously interact with people via facial and hand gestures. The end goal is for these drones to be used as a kind of personal assistant at retail locations, on tours, and even in the workplace. Selfie drones are the first large scale testing ground for using machine learning and gestures. The lessons being learned will be vital for further drone development.

Let’s Take a Dronie

Regardless of what the future holds, selfie drones are making their mark today because they are easy to integrate with the great passion of our time, social media. The marketing of every selfie drone shows happy people documenting moments for their friends with the help of a wonderful new tool. If you want more confirmation of the social power of drones just remember that in late May Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, bought Los Angeles-based drone maker Ctrl Me.

For better or worse selfie drones are here to stay. Just don’t forget that these drones have a lot more going for them than narcissism. They are a stepping stone to the drones of the future.

Joe Christian is Director of Content for Up Sonder, a network of drone pilots for hire and the first on-demand drone rental platform powered by UberRUSH and Postmates. Up Sonder gives business and the public access to the drone industry while providing a way for drone pilots and owners to earn extra money.

The drone superhighway will need a network of charging stations to power it.


This article is the final in a four-part series so if you haven’t read the previous parts please go back and start where you left off. In part one, I introduced the groundbreaking work currently being done to lay the foundations of the upcoming drone superhighway. In part two, I wrote about how the drone superhighway will require a new air traffic management system that includes drones and current legal hurdles that need to be addressed. Last week in part three, I wrote of beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operation, the possibility of fully autonomous drones, and how Trump administration policies could be used to advance the drone superhighway.

This week I will go over the need for new energy solutions and how the reduced costs of drone technology will play an important role in making the drone superhighway a cost effective network.

Energy Solutions—Better Batteries and Docking Stations

Reliable and longer lasting power sources are vital for the success of the drone superhighway. Right now, the new DJI Matrice 200 has one of the best performance specs of commercially available drones. However, its two lithium-ion batteries only give it a flight time of 38 minutes.

Obviously better batteries are needed, but the real issue here is that battery technology hasn’t been able to keep pace with other technological advancements. Drones are still slaves to the performance of lithium-ion batteries that are not only dangerous, but also fairly inefficient.

Canadian company Nano One is aiming to improve lithium-ion batteries with a new manufacturing technique that decreases cost and improves performance. Nano One’s patented method uses a chemical rather than mechanical process to produce the cathode for a lithium-ion battery. This chemical process creates nanometer-sized crystals which makes the battery last longer and perform better.

Speaking of lithium-ion batteries, in March 2017 their creator John Goodenough announced he has developed a new solid-state sodium-ion battery that could triple the range of a drone and allow it to operate at much lower temperatures (-4℉).

Other promising battery technologies are lithium-air batteries that have 15 times more capacity than lithium-ion batteries and gold nanowire batteries that don’t degrade with use. Only time will tell how quickly these new battery designs can go from a lab to mass production.

Another possible power source is hydrogen fuel cells. Simply put, hydrogen fuel cells convert hydrogen into electricity through a chemical reaction of positively charged hydrogen ions with oxygen. Chinese company MMC already has a hydrogen fuel cell drone on the market. The 6-rotor HyDrone 1550 can operate for up to 2.5 hours and is marketed for industrial use. However, this kind of power source requires a hydrogen fuel tank in order to operate. While hydrogen fuel cell drones offer some intriguing possibilities for local use, they don’t make a lot of sense for a drone superhighway because they would require facilities that would have to replenish, or switch out a hydrogen tank.

Batteries will eventually improve but the demand for drones to carry heavier payloads for delivery and other functions will largely offset these advances and probably not drastically increase flight times. This is why there is a fundamental need for a network of charging stations along the path of the drone superhighway that can quickly recharge a wide variety of drones.

Drones will have to land and charge.

Up Sonder is working on a solution that involves developing a charging station that costs only $100 per unit. A lot of what we are working on is proprietary information, but there are some things I can share with you about the Up Sonder charging station.

  • Rapid wireless charging: if you want to be fast, wireless is the only way to go, it also helps the unit to be more weather-proof.
  • Autonomous precision landing: the charging station must communicate and guide a     drone to land in a precise location to charge.
  • Compatible: the wireless charging station will have to work with a wide variety of drone systems.
  • Intelligent charging: the station will have to be able to monitor a drone’s current power level and charge accordingly to optimize battery life.

Our goal is to create an interconnect network of over 200,000 charging stations across the nation to power the drone superhighway.

Cost Effectiveness

Ten years ago if I wanted a drone with a 20-megapixel camera, five dedicated sensors for obstacle avoidance, as well as the ability to recognize and follow people, it would easily cost me tens of thousands of dollars. But today I can get all that (and more) standard in a DJI Phantom 4 Pro for just $1,499.

In terms of what they offer, drones are cheaper today than they have ever been. Drones also offer companies a much easier way to achieve return on investment (ROI). In some cases drones are replacing manned aircraft for tasks like aerial surveying because they are so much cheaper. For example, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is looking into using drones to conduct aerial surveys at small airports across the state. According to their own estimates, an aerial survey by a manned charter plane would cost around $100,000 while a drone survey would only cost $2,500. That is a savings of $97,500!

There is also a reason why so many companies are interested in drone delivery — hint, hint because it saves them money! Our friend over at Drone Girl, Sally French, broke down a report from Skylark Services earlier this month that demonstrated that Amazon estimates the cost of the last mile of delivery is $2.50, whereas drones can complete that last mile for an estimated $1.74.

We have almost hit the sweet spot where all the technology needed to make the drone superhighway a reality can be provided at a reasonable cost. Give it a few more years and things will be ready for sure, if regulators allow it.

The Future

In the future, the Up Sonder community will be able to send things to each other via drone.

As the CEO of a company leading the charge to make the drone superhighway a reality, I’m excited about the possibilities it offers for the future. I’ll leave you with one teaser for the members of the Up Sonder community.
Think how cool it would be if one day you needed a cup of sugar to bake a cake, but instead of driving over to the grocery store, you hopped on the Up Sonder app and had a fellow community member deliver the sugar to you via drone! It might sound crazy, but we are working on it!

Derek Waleko is CEO of Up Sonder, the first on-demand drone and service rental platform powered by UberRUSH, specifically designed for drone pilots and drone owners to earn extra money.

Share on Facebook

Tweet on Twitter

Today DJI unveiled Spark, a brand-new, revolutionary palm-sized drone. Its powerful, stabilized camera uses multiple easy-to-use shooting modes for incredibly eye-catching photos and videos. With intuitive functions like QuickLaunch, FaceAware, and PalmControl, Spark gives you a truly immersive flying experience.

This newest release from DJI features all of DJI’s signature technologies, allowing you to seize the moment whenever you feel inspired.

Available now for pre-order for USD $499. Expected to ship July 15, 2017.




Previous articleDrone’s Eye View Tour From Downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica
Drone CommunicationDrone communication is important for the drone superhighway

Last week, I wrote about drone traffic management systems and legal hurdles to the drone superhighway. If you haven’t already read part one and two of this four-part series be sure to go back and start at the beginning. Also, check out Up Sonder to find out more about how my company is building a marketplace of drone pilots and drones to unlock the economic possibility of the drone superhighway.

This week, we’ll look at a beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) drone operation, the possibility of fully autonomous drones and how Trump administration policies could be used to advance the drone superhighway. It’s a lot to cover, so let’s dig in!

BVLOS and Flying Over People:

There is no way of getting around it, drone superhighways will require both BVLOS operation and flight over people. Unfortunately, right now according to FAA regulations without a special exemption, drones are required to stay within the line-of-sight of the operator or spotter and cannot fly directly over people. The FAA is not against BVLOS or drone flights over people, it just wants to make sure it’s done safely.

For BVLOS, the concern is that, unlike manned aircraft, drones don’t have enough self-awareness of their surroundings. Luckily technology, like advanced sensors and machine learning is quickly making this concern invalid. FAA approval of BVLOS drone operations really hinges on two points, implementation of a functioning drone traffic management system (already discussed) and the ability of drones to operate autonomously (I will address this more below).

Luckily some very smart folks at NASA, Harris Corp, and BNSF Railways are helping the FAA research how to make BVLOS a safe reality. Back in October of 2016, NASA was able to fly two drones BVLOS into a designated area and successfully keep the drones from running into each other using technology they are developing to assist in drone traffic management.

Credits: NASA Ames / Dominic Hart

​This February, Harris Corp and the University of North Dakota received a grant to develop an integrated network infrastructure for BVLOS drone operations. This includes everything from using cell phone towers to help find location, to machine learning that allows drones to detect obstacles and avoid them. Harris partnered with Ligado Networks in early May to use a commercial satellite with the largest antenna in North America for BVLOS navigation. The satellite’s 22-meter length (over 72 feet) gives it the ability to communicate with small devices like a drone over a large area. The exciting thing about Harris’ work is that after initial testing they plan on partnering with end users, like a utility company, to test BVLOS at their North Dakota test site.

BNSF Railway and Rockwell Collins have been testing BVLOS drone operations using a more down-to-earth approach. BNSF can communicate and control drones with a data link network that uses both radio spectrum and telecommunications infrastructure. The system automatically determines the best tower-to-drone link for control and can transfer control of the drone between towers during flight. This has given them the ability to test long-distance BVLOS operations for drones that are inspecting railway tracks.

The FAA’s concern with drones flying over people is public safety. What happens if a drone falls from the sky? What if a drone is being flown over groups of people with criminal intent? These are very real safety concerns the FAA cannot ignore.

The FAA has partnered with a number of universities to test the physical dangers of drones falling on people. Schools like Virginia Tech have been busy slamming drones into crash test dummies and a recently released report found a drone was not as dangerous as a block of wood or piece of steel when falling from a height of 50 feet. While the test is promising, the FAA will need more tests before it allows flights over people. A test on airborne drone collisions will reportedly be released this summer, so keep your eyes open for that.

[embedded content]

There is also a need to quickly identify drones when they act badly, particularly around large groups of people. Leading drone manufacturer DJI has stepped up to the plate and proposed an electronic identification system for all drones that would require drones to automatically broadcast identification information. If a standard can be created and applied to all drones, it will act as a digital license plate and will allow authorities to more easily track a problematic drone and find out who is operating it.

All of this testing is building a strong case that drones can operate safely BVLOS and over people. Hopefully, this will convince the FAA to revise current restrictions. One thing that could make this easier is the Trump Administration’s 2-for-1 executive order on regulations. A single revision to Part 107 to allow BVLOS and flight over people would eliminate four waiver regulations (107.31, 107.33, 107.39, 107.51).

Autonomous Drones:

OK, before we talk about autonomous drones any further, let’s get one thing straight…just because a drone is autonomous doesn’t mean it is going to go rogue and turn into a flying Terminator. For simplicity’s sake, we are talking about drones that can fly from point A to point B without any human interaction.

To fly autonomously, drones must be able to sense and avoid obstacles near them, communicate with other aircraft and air traffic control, be aware of changing environmental conditions like weather, have a fail-safe protocol in case of emergencies, etc. It’s a lot to do, but luckily the technology is mostly there. What must happen now is intensive testing to make sure autonomous drone flight is safe and scalable at size.

There is a lot of testing currently going on, here are three cool examples:

1-US company Matternet has partnered with the Swiss Post to successfully carry out 70 autonomous drone delivery tests in Switzerland. The Swiss Aviation Authority is supporting these tests and the plan is to make the drone deliveries between two hospitals in the city of Lugano a permanent situation by 2018.

[embedded content]

2-Engineers at NVIDIA have successfully tested autonomous drone flight through a path in a forest using deep learning and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM). The deep learning lets the drone orient itself and follow the dirt path and the SLAM (same technology used on autonomous cars) allows the drone to map the area around it and avoid obstacles. While testing is still ongoing, the ability to connect machine learning with obstacle avoidance is an important step in autonomous drone flight.

3-The US Air Force takes the cake for most advanced testing with its Loyal Wingman Project. The idea is to create autonomous aircraft that are paired with a manned aircraft to act as the manned aircraft’s wingmen. These drone wingmen are supposed to do everything from carry out attacks on enemies to protect the manned aircraft. In the last few months the Air Force has reportedly “successfully demonstrated” the concept using F-16s as drones in tests at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

According to a press release from Lockheed Martin (who is involved in the project), the testing successfully showed the following:

  • the ability to autonomously plan and execute air-to-ground strike missions and
  • the ability to dynamically react to a changing threat environment during an air-to-ground strike mission while automatically managing contingencies for capability failures, route deviations, and loss of communication.

In Israel they have moved beyond testing. Airobotics has built a fully autonomous drone system that is designed to conduct survey and security missions for industrial applications. The Civil Authority of Israel has given Airobotics full approval to operate autonomous drones in Israeli airspace.

Airobotic’s Optimus drone system houses a drone in a box where it is protected and is able to recharge itself. When tasked with a mission, the drone will take off and autonomously conduct the mission before returning to its housing unit. What is even more amazing is that Airobotics is testing using this proven technology for emergency response in less predictable and more congested urban airspace.

Next week, in the fourth and final part of this series, I will discuss energy solutions to power the drone superhighway and look to the future about how everything mentioned here can be cost effective enough to be widely implemented.

Stay tuned!

Derek Waleko is CEO of Up Sonder, the first on-demand drone and service rental platform powered by UberRUSH, specifically designed for drone pilots and drone owners to earn extra money.

Above: Kian Garcia – demonstrates racing drones through a field

International Drone Day 2017 – Sydney,  Australia

When it comes to drones, your knowledge could be that of a novice, intermediate or advanced pilot. You could also have no interest whatsoever but have a curious mind as to what the fuss is all about and how this ground-breaking technology will affect us in the years to come.

One way or the other, you might seriously want to consider attending your nearest and upcoming International Drone Day festival. Although it was generally created to educate people about the positive use of drones – I came to a realisation that its evolved into a far bigger spectacle when on 6th May 2017, I was lucky enough to be invited to capture the events of this year’s Sydney event which was hosted by Rise Above Custom Drone Solutions in Camden, New South Wales.

International Drone Day took place on 6th of May 2017. It followed the success of the first one in 2015, which saw over 40,000 people in 150 countries take part. Hundreds of teams throughout the world held events to educate those outside of the drone community about the many positive ways in which drones are used to better society. The mantra of those taking part was “Drones are Good!”

International Drone Day was founded by Sarah and David O’Neal, of “That Drone Show”. They comment: “International Drone Day is hosted by the drone community for the public. It’s an opportunity for people that have heard of drones to find out more about them. As a result of International Drone Day 2015, vast numbers of people now understand that drones are used in good ways – from being used to save lives in search and rescue, to providing more efficient ways to monitor crops, to producing beautiful photographs. International Drone Day also highlights the much needed economic boost provided by drones, and shows that drones are fun!”

International Drone Day is supported by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, AirVuz, MultiGP and Interdrone – and in partnership with these organisations, International Drone Day event activities vary by team and include drone racing, aerial photography and videography instruction, and search and rescue demonstrations.  

1. The Presentations

Starting with a warm welcome and general introduction, the presentations involved industry experts showcasing slides and hands-on demonstrations about current and new drones in the marketplace. It covered everything from racing drones, to commercial drone applications in agriculture, surveying, photograph and videography. They also provided advice on local aviation rules and tips on safe flying as well as licensing for drones.


Above: Jacob Hogan and Kian Garcia deliver welcome and presentations

In order to encourage a more seminar or workshop type environment – the presenters welcomed attendees to ask just about any question they had in mind.


Above: Attendees jam in for the presentations by Rise Above Custom Drone Solutions

2. The Simulators

The simulation station was a hit amongst the public. If you’re looking for the cheapest and most convenient way to experience the thrill of piloting a drone (without actually flying one) – then you must try these out. They were basically laptops uploaded with drone simulator software. The simulator on display was called ‘Liftoff’ available at

The Liftoff game also translates the rush of first-person view drone racing into the digital world. It’s got the potential to become an ideal gateway into the quad copter racing scene, offering a platform both for pilots with real-life experience and for gamers who are still unfamiliar with the new sport.


Above: The public curiously testing out drone flight simulators

3. The Demonstrations

On the field they demonstrated everything from the smallest micro drones to some of the largest and most powerful commercial drones on the market. This was definitely the most jaw-dropping aspect of the festival. One couldn’t argue against the Chinese juggernaut – DJI having totally dominated this session with their drones, and it came as no surprise that a lot of interest was around the revolutionary and affordable new DJI Mavic Pro.

A big crowd-pleaser was when Kian Garcia from Rise Above Custom Drone Solutions demonstrated racing drones. Along with the pilot’s skills, the sheer velocity and dynamic flight ability of these had the public absolutely mesmerized.

And amongst the crowd I noticed a mixture of people – ranging from the just plain curious to hobbyists, surveyors, farmers, racers, photographers and videographers.

Above: Josh Robinson demonstrating the popular and portable new DJI Mavic Pro

Above: Kian Garcia setting up the powerful DJI Matrice 600 for demonstration

Above: Josh Sarantos demonstrates a custom Vulcan drone with a DSLR attached

Above: Kian Garcia setting up DJI Agras MG-1 to demonstrate its uses in the agriculture industry

4. The Stalls

They aren’t just tables with catalogues and products piled on top of each other. Drones are out on display in the open, and DJI products were hooked up to large monitors to more graphically and intricately demonstrate to you the technology of how precisely a video feed is transmitted from a drone’s camera into a display.

And if you’re ready to make a purchase of some sort – the representatives are industry experts offering you tailored advice and suggesting the most appropriate products available to suit your needs.


Above: Ben Grear assists public with a variety of different drone products

Above: Kian Garcia engages public with his in-depth knowledge on racing drones

5. Networking & Social Ties

Our hosts were kind enough to organise a barbeque around the drone demonstration field. I noticed this presented a chance to not only put some food into a hungry stomach but we had interactions at every level too. A lot of drone owners were exchanging ideas and information amongst each other – and so were the racers and commercial industry specialists. The potential here was limitless, whether you make a friend for social reasons or a professional contact for business – you potentially gain as much from this as you wish to put in.

Above: Vick Janoian shares his specialised UAV knowledge whilst networking with public


Above: A barbeque around the drone demonstration field allows participants to socialise as well

6. Conclusion

After experiencing this event, I’m even more confident that drones are coming into our lives in more ways than I’d expected. They are definitely here to stay. The technology is evolving rapidly making them even more intuitive and safer to fly.

Organisers of these events – such as Rise Above Custom Drone Solutions are working closely with drone manufacturers, local aviation authorities and the public in constructing these events which are rapidly increasing in popularity. They play a significant role in social acceptance and educating the public towards the positive attributes that drones can bring into society.



A big thank you to the entire team at Rise Above Custom Drone Solutions for their warm hospitality. Particular thanks to Vick Janoian, Kian Garcia, Jacob Hogan and Ben Grear for their feedback and advice.