Few hobbies are as instantly exciting or more addictive than droning. Still, whether you are thinking about buying a new drone or have owned one for years, you are probably looking for ways to make drone flying even more thrilling and satisfying. Participating in fun, competitive drone racing is a sure-fire way to take your droning experience to the next level. For good reason, the sport has grown tremendously in recent years. Here is everything you need to know about racing your drone.
What Is a Drone?
In generic terms, drones are flying vehicles that a pilot controls using four fixed-pitch fan blades. These blades spin at varying speeds to direct the drone in any direction. For competition purposes, the definition of “drone” may vary. Individual race rules often limit a drone’s size, power or other features. Prior to registering for a competition, you must review race rules and other restrictions to be certain your drone meets all qualifications. You should also be prepared for race officials to inspect your drone on race day.
What Is a Race?
Many drone operators enjoy flying their vehicles in a competition-free environment. Those looking for more of a challenge, however, often enter their drones in a race. Drone racing, sometimes called rotorcross, offers that challenge in an organised, highly competitive setting.
During the race, pilots fly drones through a pre-set course. Courses usually vary in both length and complexity, giving both new and professional pilots an opportunity to showcase their talents. Generally, both speed and navigation are scored, meaning the pilot must be accurate and fast to beat other competitors. As with any race, failing to follow race rules may result in the assessment of penalties or disqualification from the race.
Drone racing is still in its infancy, with many pilots viewing races to be the drone sport of the future. Also, drone pilots are continually thinking of ways to demonstrate their flying prowess. Thus, new events are sure to crop up in the future. If you haven’t found the perfect drone competition for you, you may be on the forefront of designing an exciting event for other drone operators.
Where Are Races Located?
Drone pilots form associations around the world. These associations frequently hold drone racing competitions. Meanwhile, amateur groups often organise races. To find a race near you, check for drone associations in your area. Becoming a member of one of these groups or joining a group mailing list are both effective ways to learn about upcoming races. Similarly, many drone racing leagues have formed in countries around the globe. These leagues frequently hold races for pilots of all skill levels. If you are serious about participating in many races or supporting the drone racing community, joining a drone racing league is an effective option.
Since drone racing is only beginning to catch on in popularity, you may have to travel hundreds of miles to compete against other pilots. While this can be exciting, it can also be costly. Because drone racers are usually passionate about the sport, they are often happy to help racers establish events in their communities. As such, if there is no race in your area, you may want to start one. Begin by deciding which type of event you want to sponsor. Then, connect with other drone racers for the resources you need to pull off a successful competition.
What Is a Video Race?
One of the most popular types of drone competitions is the first-person video race. With these races, drone pilots outfit their vehicles with a camera. Then, instead of manoeuvring the drone using the naked eye, pilots rely on video playback through head-mounted display screens. As you may suspect, controlling a drone using the drone’s visual perspective is often considerably more challenging than a conventional race. Accordingly, drone pilots typically wait to register for a video competition until they have acquired significant drone piloting skills.
During video races, pilots aren’t the only ones who wear headgear. Rather, in many events, spectators also don helmets to give them a first-person view of the action. If race watchers want to see another drone or watch a different competitor, they simply change frequencies. Remember, different racing organisations offer different viewing experiences, so check with your race’s organisers to see how spectators are encouraged to watch your event.
What Is the Global Racing League?
Perhaps the most popular racing organisation for video-race droning is the Global Racing League. This league allows pilots to compete for a well-earned, world-championship racing title. Those who participate in the GRL may compete through four stages of racing, each testing their piloting skills in video race. Interestingly, the league does not allow racers to provide their own drones. Instead, all drones used in competition are made and serviced in-house, helping to level the playing field for race pilots. That is, if you win a GRL event, you know it was skill, not your drone, that put you over the top.
Unfortunately, the GRL is exclusive, limiting competition to pilots with exceptional skills. As such, prior to joining the GRL, pilots usually work through an online simulation to give them an idea of course challenges. Remember, many of the courses in the GRL use wind-generating turbines to increase the difficulty of three-dimensional courses.
Participating this series of races often helps pilots become better drone flyers, as the GRL gives participants access to a variety of resources. If you are looking to compete against the best of the best, joining the GRL is a great way to ensure you have top-notch competition.
Are Drone Upgrades Acceptable?
You probably know that not every style of drone is a good fit for every type of flying. Some drones are designed to hover, making them a good fit for aerial photography. Others are built to move through the air quickly, allowing them to dominate on a course where speed is a factor. Before choosing the right drone for your competition, be sure you understand the purpose of the event. Then, select the drone that gives you the best chance of dominating without violating the competition’s rules or restrictions.
As with any sport, drone competitions have rules that govern how participants must behave before, during and after races. These rules dictate which drone upgrades are acceptable and which ones violate the rules. Often, however, pilots choose to customize their vehicles to give them advantages on the course or during the race. Since many aftermarket components help pilots improve drone agility and speed, diligent flyers check with the pertinent associations to avoid violating competition rules. Likewise, pilots often choose to carry spare parts and tools with them on race day. As you may suspect, making fast repairs during a race is critical for remaining competitive.
With the GRL, pilots typically don’t supply their own drones. Instead, league officials give pilots access to drones made and maintained by the league itself. Likewise, if a league-supplied drone sustains damage on race day, GRL rules require pilots use league-approved parts in making repairs. If you plan to participate in a GRL-sanctioned event, check with league officials prior to the competition to be sure you understand how to manoeuvre the drone used in the race.
What Are Some Other Racing Options?
If you aren’t yet ready for high-level GRL competition, don’t panic. There are hundreds of other racing opportunities, each targeted to satisfy the racing objectives of individual pilots. That is, whether you are a first-time racer or have been racing for years, you can find the perfect competition to showcase your drone piloting abilities. Often, either taking a piloting class or joining a drone group is the best way to learn about races and other competitions. Meanwhile, a growing number of drone racing enthusiasts have begun to offer podcasts, videos, and other informational resources to pilots. Taking advantage of these resources is also a good way to find out about upcoming races and other competitions.
Is Drone Racing Lucrative?
There are hundreds of drone racing events around the globe, each with different objectives. Most who participate in drone racing do so because of a deep love of the sport. Still, competition winners may walk away with thousands of dollars in winnings. Since each competition awards winners with different prizes, be sure to ask about accolades before registering for a competition. Also, remember that racing organisations usually charge an entry fee for competitions. You may also have to pay for travel to and from the event. To get the most out of your racing experience, be sure you budget effectively for all race-related expenses.
Drone racing is the sport of the future. Those who participate in the sport understand how incredibly thrilling drone competitions can be. Still, with the variety of events offered by different organisations around the planet, drone pilots can get their racing fix in a seemingly endless number of ways. By discovering which events are right for you, choosing the best equipment, joining drone racing groups and honing your skills, you can likely turn your drone hobby into a passion.
When it comes to drone capability, strength and speed, professional drones are top of the line. Manufacturers design these machines to appeal to industries where they would not only be convenient but necessary. From the film industry to survey farmers, professionals know how to put these drones to work. As technology advances, drones become more and more capable.
Professional drones are generally higher quality than the toy drones enthusiasts use for recreation. Manufacturers build these hardier and with extra features that are suited for agriculture, film, utility companies and more. As drones gain in popularity, the businesses that have something to gain from them also grow in number.
There is one business, however, where you’ll see drones soaring high! Here is what you need to know about drones and the agriculture business.
When it comes to agriculture, drones have found a natural place in the business. Farmers cannot be everywhere at once. However, with a drone, they are able to survey their land with real-time information. Farming involves keeping track of many different components. From crop health, water use and soil analysis, farmers have a lot to keep track of. In the past, before drones were a major asset to farming, people invested in plane surveillance. Planes can’t be used as often and at the expense of manned aircraft, farmers tend to use data surveillance by plane sparingly. Drones, on the other hand, can survey the land on a daily or weekly basis.
When used, these drones can complete a variety of jobs on farms and ranches. Here are just some of the tasks that they are capable of:
When you have the time to make a plan, then you have a chance to save your crops and maximise your productivity. Drones make it possible for you to gather extra information in a fast and convenient way. Your eyes aren’t going to be able to tell you when a plant is in distress or when there’s unseen soil damage. Drones are fast, convenient and highly effective.
Take for example how the agricultural industry uses thermal imagining to determine whether a farm is watered adequately. Keep in mind that watered areas tend to be cooler than the areas that are not. A great drone to use for this purpose is the DJI Inspire 1. Not only is it fitted with thermal imagining but it also has 3D mapping and crop monitoring capabilities.
Fixed Wing Drones
Fixed wing drones are preferred by the agricultural industry. This is because their batteries tend to last longer and they can survey larger expanses of land. This is better in terms of surveillance and data collection over a large area. Fixed wing drones fly higher and spend more time in the air than a multi-rotor drone. Since these are also larger and can carry more, they are often equipped with more sensors. This allows ranchers and farmers to get more work done. When it comes to this type of drone, they tend to look more like airplanes with a large wingspan.
Here are two common fixed-wing commercial drones for agriculture:
PrecisionHawk Lancaster 5
With high stability, the Lancaster 5 is a sturdy fixed-wing drone. On board, it has sensors that can measure temperature, air pressure, and humidity. It can also respond to the changing weather conditions. With an in-flight monitoring system, you can monitor its battery life, altitude, and position from home. It is also capable of 2D and 3D mapping.
The Sensefly eBee SQ is practical for data collection. In one flight, you can capture the soil temperature, H20 levels and plant counts. Additionally, it is capable of 3D mapping.
Multi-Rotor drones are also a good choice for farmers, especially when you want a drone with more control. These drones have more than two rotors for flying. This can be especially helpful for beginners. Now, when you want to fly your drone low to the ground or need it to fit into smaller places, the multi-rotor is more advantageous. For many farmers, the type of drone that you choose depends on the size of your farm and your level of skill with a drone.
Here are two common multi-rotor drones:
DJI Phantom 4 PRO
This is an easy-to-use beginner agricultural drone. With the Sentera’s NSVI upgrade, it is capable of capturing high-resolution color. This is a great way for a farmer to determine the health of their land. Predominately used for scouting, it is a hardy agricultural drone.
This drone contains high-resolution mapping software that farmers can utilize on their properties. With two cameras, the aerial mapping is not only possible but is also easy to carry out. This is a great drone for those who need to scout.
Many farmers and ranchers have an extensive amount of property in which large herds of animals can roam. In this case, it may be difficult for farmers or their work animals to monitor the herd at all times. Drones are lightweight, fast, and can follow herds wherever they roam. Not only do they have a live tracking system, but also professional, commercial drones for agriculture can feed live video to your laptop or smartphone.
In addition, a drone equipped with infrared or night vision will be able to see your animals even when you can’t. Cows, for instance, have a tendency to hide in forested areas, under the canopies of trees. With the right infrared technology, you’ll be able to see them through the trees when you might not have been able to find them yourself. It won’t be long before drones are a staple of animal agriculture. These devices can be used to raising and managing livestock. In fact, if you need a solid herding tool, drones can perform that too.
While they continue to develop and better the technology, there is a future for drones in agriculture, especially when it comes to working with the animals themselves.
What Makes Drones Better?
New technology can be daunting. Despite having been on the market since the 90s, drones have only started gaining real popularity in the last several years. Don’t be like some people in the industry, however, and be too nervous to take that leap! It’s worth it in the long run and we can tell you why.
First, consider the price. To use other aerial methods can cost a lot of money. From manned aircraft to satellites, you are paying too much for aerial pictures. Drones cost less money; their imaging is by far cheaper.
Second, they have offer more precision when it comes to picture taking. Why spend extra money on images that won’t turn out as well
Here are a few other benefits of drones:
From simple images, 3D mapping, to infrared technology, the drone has few tasks unfit for it.
by droneshop | Mar 12, 2018 |
Drones are today providing many safety and economic benefits to a wide range of industries. Ranging from aerial inspections and photography to emergency deliveries and monitoring rescue missions, the list of services the drones are offering is swiftly growing.
Although the earlier drones were mainly for photography and enthusiasts, today’ drones have many capabilities and functionalities that companies can use to improve safety and efficiency in both normal and difficult environments.
Typical applications include:
Supervision and inspection services of construction sites,
Inspecting risky and difficult to access facilities and remote field infrastructures such as pipelines in oil and gas industry.
Delivering medicine to remote locations
Inspecting buildings for damage and deterioration
Monitoring rescue operation or assessing hazardous sites before sending emergency personnel, etc.
How do drones improve safety and efficiency
The use of drone inspection is not restricted to the oil and gas, and similar industries. They are suitable for many other applications in almost all industries. This includes surveying, construction project management, farming, rescue missions, firefighting and more. They allow people to perform aerial inspections and obtain images of roof or structure damage, crop damage, terrain features and other properties that someone cannot see easily from the ground. Inspecting a roof in New Zealand requires edge fall protection, harnesses and a full hazard management plan. Using a drone reduces the need for these costly and time consuming additional costs.
Different industries have their unique environments and requirements, but in general, here are some of the ways drones improve safety and efficiency.
Reduced costs and time
Due to their ability to fly, the drones reduce the costs and equipment needs as well as the risk associated with building and structure inspections. Carrying out such services using the traditional manual methods is usually expensive and risky as it exposes the workers to a wide range of safety and health risks. On the other hand, drones are quicker and require fewer people to carry out an inspection or monitoring service, hence more savings.
Today, there are many different sensors for drones. This enables them to check physical properties such as cracks, corrosion as well as chemical conditions such as gas or liquid leaks. Equipping the drones with, say, a thermal camera, a video and photo camera, and gas detection sensors enables it to perform multiple tests, hence reducing the time and cost of carrying them out individually.
Perform regular inspections to improve operational efficiency
Since drones provide a low-cost solution, companies can perform regular inspections. This has the potential to reduce shutdowns and improve operations efficiency. The regular inspections increase the rate of identifying issues before they develop into major problems that would cause shutdowns or lost production. Drones can, therefore, provide an easier and quicker means of identifying faults and then allowing the company to fix them at the most convenient time as opposed to waiting for faults to develop fully and cause expensive shutdowns.
In addition to reducing risks, the drones are quicker, less costly and have the ability to capture more details; especially in confined spaces where humans cannot access, are exposed to more risks.
No need to interrupt operations
Majority of inspections do not require shutting down the plant or machines. This allows the company to continue with its production without any interruptions. A traditional inspection interferes with the normal running of the systems and will most often require a partial or complete shutdown. This can be expensive in addition to lost time and production. With a drone flying at a safe distance, the company will continue its operations and hence achieve higher efficiencies.
Assess structure or environment before sending a human being
Sending a drone to first assess damage is the safest approach to handle potentially risky structures. This is especially necessary in cases of fire, toxic gas leaks, spills, collapsing or damaged roofs, or metallic structures suffering from corrosion and other causes.
A drone eliminates the need to send a human to go to a place that may still pose risks such as further collapse or spread of fire. Navigating the drone from a safe ground position allows the operator to have a view of what is happening in real-time and determine the best and safest way to address the problem. The drone views enable firefighters to prepare well and extinguish it more efficiently and safely while minimizing further spreading, and avoiding loss of life, injuries and damage to property.
Even during normal or regular inspections of structures, a drone is useful in assessing the status of the structure. This allows the maintenance team to determine what they need in order to fix the problems while ensuring the workers have adequate gear that guarantees their safety.
Equipping a drone with appropriate gas or liquid sensors allows them to evaluate areas of toxicity before sending human workers. This prevents exposure to harmful fumes that can lead to health complications or even death that will cost the company more money in compensation.
Reduce need to send workers to risky areas
The drone eliminates the need to send workers to the hard-to-reach areas, climb structures, walk on top of faulty roofs and other activities that expose them to other hazards.
The drones can operate in hazardous environments including those that are cold, hot, toxic, confined or over fumes, smoke, dust and other harsh conditions. By eliminating the traditional access methods, the company saves money it could have spent hiring or purchasing expensive equipment such as rope access and scaffolding. Other than acquisition costs, using the equipment has several risks and the workers must be insured adequately, hence increasing the expenses further.
Overall, drones provide a safe, efficient and less costly alternative to organizations, that have to help them increase reliability and productivity.
Aerial images minimise walking in dangerous areas
By taking aerial images of a construction or disaster site, the managers can monitor the activities from safe distances. This reduces the possibilities of accidents arising from falling objects such as debris, tripping, falls and more. The managers can even monitor spillages and leaks without putting their lives at risk.
The drone allows the supervisors to inspect the site remotely and in real time hence eliminating the need to go into the dangerous areas. They also eliminate the need to climb other structures such as cell towers, wind turbines, and electrical transmission poles for inspections. This eventually minimizes potential risks from physical objects, falls, hazardous gases and chemicals as well as other hazards such as extreme temperatures or contamination.
Tracking progress at reduced risk and cost
Inspecting worksites or structures enables managers or supervisors to see what is happening without putting their lives at risk. This allows them to track progress and identify any issues or potential problems from a safe distance.
A drone can help to easily identify potential as well as existing problems hence allowing the company to fix them before they cause bigger issues.
Increasing efficiency and safety through virtual reality
Adding other technologies such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence increases the capabilities of the drones that enable both professional and non-technical people to easily interpret results or learn about the structures remotely. For example, a person can have a virtual tour of a structure or construction site before a project has started.
Such a tour enables the workers to have an idea of the facility even before physically setting their foot there. It not only prepares them for what they will meet, but also provides an opportunity to discuss with others and give feedback on issues such as placement of particular equipment, controls, inlets, outlets, etc.
In addition, the early input allows the decision makers or maintenance managers to make necessary changes that increase efficiency while creating a safer and better workplace.
Providing the essential information to all stakeholders allows collaborations and contribution by everyone and has a potential to improve teamwork and efficiency. In addition, it saves on time since the workers will be familiar with the site.
Currently, the rules around flying and owning a drone in New Zealand are very simple. For a full copy they can be found on the Airshare website but for now we will summarise them;
New Zealand drone regulations are a little deeper than this but essentially if you comply with these you will, for the most part, be within the rules.
Worldwide the increase in drone ownership is growing year on year. This ranges from small entry level drones with a 60 to 100 metre range through to professional drones with 30-minute flight times and a 7-kilometre range. Many drones are purchased online from Chinese companies and therefore do not come with the local flight regulations. It is then left up to the new drone owner to investigate the laws themselves. Here-in-lies the problem as many people believe the rules only apply to bigger drones, professional drones or do not know there are any rules at all! From my experience there is also confusion over what the rules are. Here in Christchurch, the City Council allows drone operators to fly in most parks without seeking their permission provided the drone is no heavier than 1.5kg. However, parks that fall with 4 km of the airport, heritage or garden parks and cemeteries are no fly zones without council permission. Open air public pools, playgrounds and any council owned wet lands or wildlife sanctuaries also require council permission. Flying over council buildings, public roads or over large crowds requires part 102 certification. These rules apply across most of New Zealand but it is always important to ensure you check the local rules.
The Airmap app is a must have. You have at your fingertips, a tool that knows where you are, your proximity to airports, military installations and any no-fly zone right across New Zealand. It provides warnings and instructions and also allows you to plot and log your flights.
Mojo NZ Drones shares drone news from across the world. While researching the latest news it is becoming more and more evident that, worldwide, some individuals do not play by the rules. From criminals using drones to drop drugs and phones into prisons to the guy who flew his DJI Phantom 4 into a Blackhawk Helicopter to the person who TWICE flew their drone around Gatwick airport causing 15 hours of chaos. It is these kinds of careless individuals that will cause aviation authorities around the globe to crack down on recreational drone operators, reducing the opportunities to enjoy flying in some of the most wonderful areas on the planet and sharing our photos and videos on sites such as Airvuz and Dronestagram.
New Zealand drone operators are not immune from breaking the regulations. Prior to the CAA introducing the UAV regulations on August 1 2015 there were 52 incidents reported between 2007 and 2015. Since the laws were introduced there have been 12 incidents investigated by the CAA. So far there has only been one person prosecuted by the CAA over drone use. In July last year Simon Reeve was sentenced to make a $500 donation to charity and discharged without conviction on the charge of unnecessary endangerment.
The incident related to January 2015, when Reeve operated a drone in a controlled zone in close proximity to a helicopter which was conducting firefighting duties over the Pines Beach settlement, in North Canterbury.
In April 2017 an overseas visitor was fined $500 for flying his drone over the Auckland harbour bridge which consequently landed on one of the clip-on lanes. As he was a visitor and had not investigated the CAA laws he was given an infringement notice for his error.
As at this time there is a third incident that is in the early stages of progress. A man could face 14 years in jail for allegedly using a drone dangerously as helicopters and firefighters fought a 200-hectare Central Otago wildfire. Jorge Eduardo Riquelme Cruz, 33, of no fixed abode in Wanaka, has appeared in the Queenstown District Court. He is charged with having reckless disregard for the safety of firefighting helicopters that was likely to cause danger to those helicopters and pilots. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 14 years' imprisonment. He could face a further four months imprisonment and a $10,000 fine on a charge of operating an unmanned drone in a manner that caused unnecessary danger to firefighting pilots and their helicopters.
This latest alleged incident is by far the most serious New Zealand drone incident to date.
The question is; how do we educate people to the drone laws to minimise potentially serious breaches? Mojo NZ Drones provides drone familiarity sessions on request and provides the CAA regulations with every drone sold. For the New Zealand drones market moving forward, education by responsible suppliers is one answer. The possible development of a licensing system is another thought. And it will come to the point where all drones will need to be registered much like we do with our cars.
New Zealand drone pilots are well behaved generally. As with any burgeoning technology, there will always be teething incidents but with common sense these can be mitigated in conjunction with the regulations. And it is always polite to ask permission from others if you are going to fly your drone in their vicinity. I have never been denied permission and in asking people if it is ok and informing them of my intentions with the images I take, I have provided a positive experience for them towards drones and drone operators.
Fly safe and stick to the rules
GoPro’s announcement this week that it would exit the drone business was greeted by many observers as a foregone conclusion. Karma, the company’s first foray into drones had sold poorly after an embarrassing recall in 2016. Under pressure to cut costs amid slowing sales in its core action-camera business, GoPro’s hand was forced. Viewed in that light, Karma was just one more tech company side hustle that didn’t pay off.
But to shrug off GoPro’s drone is to ignore a larger question: why have American efforts to build a popular consumer drone failed? After all, the GoPro announcement follows the collapse of a similar effort from 3D Robotics, which similarly abandoned the consumer market in 2016 after the failure of its inaugural drone product, called Solo. While it is still relatively early in the history of consumer drones, the failures have left Chinese drone manufacturer DJI in a dominant position.
As it turns out, both GoPro and 3DR weren’t built to compete, observers say: they relied on contract manufacturers at a time when DJI, the dominant player, was designing and manufacturing every product itself. Making things worse, the American companies announced their products far in advance, giving DJI ample opportunity to catch up to any advertised features. When the American drones did arrive, they did so broken (in the case of Solo), or late and broken (in the case of Karma).
“DON’T TELEGRAPH YOUR MOVES TO THE INDUSTRY — ESPECIALLY IF YOU’RE NOT A BIG PLAYER.”
“The business lesson here is, don’t telegraph your moves to the industry — especially if you’re not a big player,” says Gerald Van Hoy, an independent consultant and analyst who covers the drone industry. “DJI is positioned well. They take advantage of everything that’s given to them, and they run with it — that’s why it’s hard to compete with them toe to toe. The only way you beat those guys is you come in quiet.”
Instead, American companies have sought to make a splash. For 3DR, that meant hiring Colin Guinn, the former head of DJI America, who helped lead design and marketing efforts for DJI’s popular Phantom drone. Guinn, who had become prominent in the drone community by posting videos about the Phantom to YouTube, had the credibility to promote Solo as the next evolution in consumer drones.
Solo was the first drone with integrated controls for GoPro cameras, the first with programmable flight paths, and the first to offer high-end customer service that included a no-questions-asked, 30-day money-back guarantee. When I saw it in 2015, I said it may have been the smartest drone ever.
But while Solo arrived on time, the separately sold gimbal — which stabilizes the camera, and is necessary for high-quality photo and video — was late. The combined package was expensive at $1,700. And early buyers found a wide range of bugs. 3DR sold only about half the units it projected, according to Forbes. Along the way, DJI — which owns its own factories — managed to slash prices for a combined drone and gimbal to about $1,000. Having spent most of the $200 million it raised, 3DR abandoned the hardware business.
“WE HAD A DRAMATICALLY BAD LAUNCH.”
GoPro began teasing the existence of Karma in May 2015, but it didn’t arrive until the end of 2016. Among its selling points was the fact that you could use its gimbal as a handheld stabilizer for the Hero line of action cameras, expanding its utility. Unfortunately, the $799 Karma shipped with a defect that could cause it to randomly lose power while it was in the sky. GoPro recalled all 2,500 units it had sold. The company lost $373 million for the year, largely because of the high cost of developing the drone.
In an interview this week, GoPro CEO Nick Woodman disputed the idea that Karma had been a failure. “Karma has been a commercial success for GoPro,” he said. “We had a dramatically bad launch. And the fact that in February of 2017 we were able to relaunch it, and have it become the second-best selling drone in the thousand-dollar-and-up category, is testament to the terrific concept of the versatile drone.”
But the market for consumer drones turned out to be smaller than GoPro expected, Woodman said. And ultimately, it didn’t have pockets deep enough to compete with DJI.
“We looked at how much we were spending on our drone program, relative to the number of units we were selling, and most importantly relative to the profit that we were making on the whole program,” he said. “It just became clear that the drone category is going to continue to be a thin-margin category. There’s incredibly stiff competition.”
After Solo collapsed, 3DR’s Guinn told Forbes that DJI’s vertical integration — the fact that it both designed and manufactured its own hardware — had represented an insurmountable obstacle. “What we realized is that it’s just going to be inherently much more difficult for a Silicon Valley-based, software-focused company to compete against vertically integrated powerhouse manufacturing company in China,” he told Forbes.
DJI’S DESIGN-AND-BUILD MODEL HAS CREATED A TOUGH OBSTACLE
This week, Woodman echoed that sentiment. “In the drone space specifically to be competitive, and make money doing it, I think a company would need to be vertically integrated,” he said. “Because that’s what DJI is. That’s what you’re up against. And they’re going to be able to make a profit at lower retail price points than anybody who isn’t vertically integrated.”
Van Hoy says the future of drones lies in finding uses that go beyond elaborate selfie-taking: drones that can sniff gas leaks, for example, or analyze your home to see where heat is leaking out of it. You might buy your next drone not at Best Buy, he says, but Home Depot.
“There has to be some application that’s going to bring more consumers to the market on drones,” Van Hoy says. “Otherwise you’re going to get the Christmas crowd. They’re going to play with it for 10 minutes, and then it’s going to the attic.”
By Casey Newton@CaseyNewton Jan 11, 2018
Sean O’Kane contributed to this report.
Two years ago, I purchased my first camera drone. It was a simple entry level drone bought online. The X6G camera drone. A great first drone to test my skills as a complete novice. Drones in New Zealand were becoming “a thing” and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. As you might remember, my first blog “flying plastic and trees” talked about how I over estimated my abilities and flew my beloved X6G drone into a tree at our holiday home. My desire to snap that ultimate shot went unfulfilled for two years.
With starting up my business Mojo NZ Drones, to service the New Zealand Drone market, time has been short for any getaways to the holiday home. Sourcing drones from around the world takes time and energy while creating contacts in the New Zealand drone market is even tougher. Web design, SEO, Facebook, Instagram, blogging, it all takes time and research. But so does finding that ultimate shot. I often find myself driving somewhere and thinking, “this would make a great drone image”. Stopping was always out of the question as I had somewhere to be. Recently however I have taken the time to stop, set up my DJI Phantom 4 Pro (yes I couldn’t help myself when they hit the market) and take that “perfect” drone shot.
The results have been varied, check them out here http://www.thepictaram.club/instagram/mojonz but the reality is I am not the worlds best photographer, nor am I the worlds greatest drone pilot. But what is true is the more I fly the better I become. I even took my drone out over the lake this week - a first for me. My heart was pounding but I got over it and from there I got some great shots of the holiday house from a unique perspective never seen in the 60 years it has stood on this site.
I have also become a better photographer over time as I fly more often and mess around with the settings more. My partner is a fantastic photographer and has given me plenty of tips and encouragement, but mainly I have improved from flying and photographing more often.
The DJI Phantom 4 Pro does make this much easier with its impressive GPS System allowing more time to focus on taking the shot than controlling the drone. This drone is simply the best consumer drone currently on the market and New Zealand drone users are increasingly turning to DJI technology.
However, I speak to hundreds of people who come to shows and markets and they all want to have the latest and flashiest drone available. Even though they have never flown a drone before. In New Zealand drones are freely available to anyone with the cash. However, knowledge of the CAA regulations is very low. This recipe of no experience, no knowledge of the regulations and a powerful drone is an accident waiting to happen. At Mojo NZ Drones we are constantly encouraging our customers to aim a little lower with a simple entry level camera drone like the X6G. Jumping straight into a DJI with no previous experience is like buying a v8 before you get your drivers license.
Once you have learned the basics of flying and understand the rules and regulations (we offer free CAA handouts to all of our customers) then it is time to step up into an Intermediate drone such as the X8G. Heavier, more powerful, better camera resolution and easier to control. The cost of this type of drone is round $300 NZD but again it offers amazing quality at a good price. It flies higher, further and longer and is a great introduction to larger camera drones. Another option is the CX-20, slightly more expensive but has more bells and whistles, GPS hold, altitude hold, RTH. It takes more calibration but it is the top end of the intermediate drones.
My point here is that it is better to spend $120 on an entry level drone to begin with, than $2,799 on a DJI Phantom 4 Pro as your first drone then watch it crash and burn. That is an expensive mistake to make. From experience, my first drone is still in the tree I flew it into two year ago!
With summer in full swing in New Zealand, it’s time to get your drone and get flying! New Zealand drone pilots are among some of the best. Stay safe, stay away from the airports and stay inside the rules.
By Justin Dove – Mojo NZ Drones - #welovedrones – Drones New Zealand
These days, there’s a drone to suit every ability and every budget, from basic toy drones like the H36 mini drone to the obstacle-avoiding DJI Phantom 4 Pro. But do you know the difference between a quadcopter, a hexacopter and an octocopter, besides the number of rotors they each have?
A quadcopter is an entry-level drone and the most popular type of consumer camera drone on the market. The four-propeller design is cheap to make and offers stability and speed that most consumers are looking for. Larger and more expensive drones are powerful enough to carry small payloads, such as a GoPro or action camera including a gimbal.
Camera drones such as the DJI Phantom 4 Pro and the 3D Robotics Solo offer a solid professional level, introduction to UAV flying. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro has obstacle avoidance sensors in five directions giving the pilot extra safety features other drones do not have. The DJI Phantom 4 Pro also has Tap-Fly, gesture, tripod, waypoint, follow me, active track and beginner flight modes giving the pilot more control than ever before. It has a flight time of 30 minutes and a range of 7 kilometres
Image: The Cheerson CX10
You should always begin at the start with much simpler, cheaper mini drone like the Cheerson CX10 or the H36 mini drone. Learning how to fly AND how to crash is very very important. Then work your way up to a more advanced entry level drone like the Syma X6G camera drone, before looking at DJI Phantom 4 Pro.
Hexacopters are a step up, both in terms of price and performance. With six propellers, they don’t just offer more lifting power, but greater stability. They can carry larger payloads making them ideal drones for aerial photography and industrial inspection given their ability to carry high tech cameras.
There’s also the safety aspect to consider. With six propellers, a hexacopter can still remain airborne if one or even two of its rotors should fail. Hexacopters are bigger and more expensive than quadcopters, while the improved power puts a greater strain on the battery. So while a UAV like the Yuneec Typhoon H can reach speeds of up to 43.5mph and carry 250g of extra weight, flight times tend to average out slightly less than the DJI Phantom Pro 4 at around 20-25 minutes.
As you might have guessed, an Octocopter with out-do hexacopter for performance. Thanks to its extra rotors, it can provide better stability (even in windy conditions) and can carry a heavier payload. Like the hexacopter, a good octocopter should still be able to fly even if several of a couple of its rotors fail.
The extra power and agility of these top-of-the-line drones makes them ideal for aerial imaging, industrial inspection, surveying, mapping and monitoring. Octocopters tend to carry heavier payloads due to more sophisticated camera equipment being used which gives an average flight time between 12-22 minutes.
Ultimately, in a battle between these multicopters, there’s no clear winner. Quadcopters are ideal UAVs for beginners, hexacopters make a great semi-pro/hobbyist choice, while octocopters offer a fantastic aerial platform for professional videography, photography and remote inspection applications.
Whatever drone you fly or intend to buy, the truth is there is a drone for everyone’s ability and requirements and in 2017, we are just at the beginning of this amazing and fun technology.
Recently a collision between a manned aircraft and a drone reportedly occurred in Quebec, Canada. What followed has become painfully familiar to drone industry observers: a sequence of reports driven more by fear and clickbait than reality. So how can we break the cycle?…
First came the reports of the incident. In this case it was actually double whammy: an apparent collision in Canada and yet another ‘near-miss’ close to Gatwick airport, London. Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Unfortunately, and as we’ve mentioned before, there continued to be a severe lack of balance in the reporting of these incidents.
That lack of balance starts with asking the simple question: Did it actually happen? Time after time, supposed drone collisions or near-misses have later been found to be nothing of the sort: Plastic bags. Or even bats. These stories, which often contain more speculation than fact, are needlessly damaging to the reputation of the industry and its pilots. For obvious reasons, a lack of sufficient evidence proving these events actually occurred tends to be overlooked in favour of juicy headlines.
To an extent, that is understandable. Publications want readers and dramatic headlines are the way to go. But in the most recent examples, it’s difficult to ignore or question official statements from the Canadian Minister of Transport or the UK Airprox Board, who both went public this week with reports of a collision and a near-miss respectively.
So, while more balance is certainly needed, the media can’t be blamed for reporting these incidents when statements are released. The difficulty instead lies in the rhetoric coming from pilot and transport organizations, as well as the vacuum where a sophisticated risk assessment should be.
Ignorance Leaves a Vacuum for Fear-mongering & Conjecture
The BBC leads with a quote from an airline pilot, suggesting that “130 lives were put at risk” near Gatwick airport in London.
We all know that drones flying close to manned aircraft is a bad idea. And we can all also agree that doing so is needlessly reckless and irresponsible. That’s partly why we’ve supported DJI’s geofencing in the past, even if the system does have its flaws.
However, what’s clearly lacking in the wider media is an understanding of the threat here. But that too is fair enough, because nobody has a clear idea of how dangerous a collision between a drone and a manned aircraft would be. From what we’ve seen so far, the damage has only been minor in nature. But will that trend continue? We don’t really know.
There have been studies of a sort. But the most recent, sponsored by the UK Department for Transport and BALPA, was condemned by drone manufacturers, dubious at best and appeared to be set up to confirm the pre-ordained conclusion that drones were a fatality waiting to happen.
So statements like the one from the pilot above are based on conjecture and, if we’re honest, amount to little more than fearmongering.
DJI was one of the manufacturers critical of the BALPA collision study.
What we need are facts and hard evidence: Data that shows exactly how dangerous drones are to manned aircraft of varying sizes, speeds and altitudes, whichever part of an aircraft they collide with. Armed with that information, reporters, industry professionals and transport authorities can understand the risks drones pose and communicate that message more effectively (and honestly) to the public.
Two problems are ensuring this vicious circle of incident, exaggeration and fear keeps spinning. The first is the lack of accountability, something which helps a minority of drone pilots continue to fly where they shouldn’t. It also prevents authorities from enforcing rules. The second is the obvious lack of data, which has left too much room for speculation on the part of people who should know better than to speculate.
The Solution: Facts, Enforcement & Accountability
There are genuine fears that the latest run of drone/manned aircraft incidents will lead to harsher regulations being put in place around the world. Depending on these restrictions, the wider commercial industry – not to mention hobbyist pilots – could soon struggle to get off the ground.
So, it appears as though the solution required is threefold. The first thing that’s needed is more accountability on the part of pilots. Although registration schemes in the US and abroad have been controversial and not always positively received, they are the first step towards ensuring pilots take responsibility for their flights. But it’s clearly not enough. True accountability needs to happen in real-time, which is one of the reasons that an unmanned traffic management system has been put forward by several parties.
When put in place around airports or disaster zones, this kind of system could effectively broadcast a drone’s location and details to surrounding airspace users and authorities. DJI’s suggested system is called Aeroscope, and takes advantage of the existing communication links between a drone and its controller:
As drones have become an everyday tool for professional and personal use, authorities want to be sure they can identify who is flying near sensitive locations or in ways that raise serious concerns. DJI AeroScope addresses that need for accountability with technology that is simple, reliable and affordable – and is available for deployment now.” – Brendan Schulman, DJI’s Vice President for Policy and Legal Affairs
There’s a strong possibility that a system like this would be vulnerable to hackers and people looking to mess with said authorities. But it would certainly be a step in the right direction for improving accountability around sensitive airspace. It’s fair to say that it would improve the situation in California at the moment, where emergency aircraft are being grounded because a small number of drone pilots want to get a shot of some wildfires.
Once that accountability is in place, that’s where better enforcement comes into play. Empowered by systems such as Aeroscope, law enforcement can apprehend rogue drones and their pilots, and ensure they don’t get away with flying recklessly.
When Will Drone Manufacturers Commission Their Own Safety Study?
The final step, as has been suggested above, is to accurately determine the risk that drones pose to manned aircraft. A neutral, scientific study needs to be conducted away from the influence of pilot’s unions and transport associations. The drone industry desperately needs to arm itself with facts and indisputable data.
Which is probably where industry manufacturers should step up. DJI, Parrot, GoPro… any company with a vested interest in ensuring the drone industry isn’t smothered by fearmongering, conjecture and negative public perception. All should jointly fund a peer-reviewed study. If the results prove that drones aren’t a threat to commercial airliners, we can all go about our business. If they are a threat, perhaps the same manufacturers could alter their designs to appease the public’s concerns.
Either way, what are you waiting for?
Written by Malek Murison
New Zealand's commercial drone manufacturers are successfully finding niche markets as the potential for the unmanned flying machines takes off. While unable to compete on price with large Chinese drone makers, several Kiwi companies are finding specialised uses for drones, which are already saving business time and money.
Currently, 70 per cent of commercial drones are used for aerial photography, 8 per cent for power line inspection and 2 per cent for agricultural work, according to information provided by UAVNZ. The industry body's chairman, Andy Grant, said there was "huge" potential for drone use in core New Zealand industries like agriculture, construction and forestry.
For example, Grant's company ASG Technologies has developed a drone capable of carrying out forestry work that would ordinarily take six workers up to an entire day in some six minutes.
Instead of requiring workers to haul 1km of steel rope above felled trees in order for them to be collected, ASG's drone - one of the largest industrial drones in the country -- is able to carry 14kg of rope the entire distance in a single flight. The savings in time and money were, clearly, enormous, Grant said. The drone was currently being used by forestry company Hancock Forest Management.
Drones are also being used to inspect tall buildings and other inaccessible infrastructure, something that had proven extremely useful in the Christchurch rebuild. Farmers, too, could be saving hours and thousands of dollars using drones for spraying, observation, stock management and, potentially, preventing cattle rustling by automatically sending out a drone when an animal is stolen from its paddock.
"The agricultural stuff, when you consider New Zealand, that is really, really low-hanging fruit," said Grant.
New Zealand companies were also looking at the emerging technology of "tethered" drones; aircraft connected to an operating box by a thin wire allowing them to fly for hours, even days. without needing the battery to be charged. Another growing sector was survey work, using drones to produce 3D models accurate to within a few centimetres with the aircraft taking an image every few of seconds. "This technique was used to produce a 3D model of an air accident site and to quickly map the relative location of all of the crashed aircraft parts," Grant said.
The software could also seamlessly stitch together thousands of high-resolution pictures to create images of vast areas.
The real estate industry is already well and truly on board with drones due to their aerial image-taking capabilities. One real estate company had become registered with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and established an in-house drone operation. "An aerial overview is quickly becoming a required offering in real estate marketing."
Drones, often associated with the United States military, have their sinister side and Grant said his company was working on technology that could be utilised by correctional facilities to disable drones carrying nefarious goods. "If you can imagine a drone that could carry a kilo's payload, and you'd get one of those for about $10,000 these days. You could potentially set that up to launch it autonomously from anywhere in the world with the push of a button and it would fly over a corrections facility and maybe drop a loaded pistol or something in the middle of the yard, or a kilo of drugs. It's a real issue."
Another risk was gangs or criminals using drones to carry out crimes or attack foes without being detected. Grant declined to elaborate on what this drone-disabling technology involved at this time. The next major breakthrough in drone technology would be when drones were allowed to work beyond the line of sight of operators, something that is being trialled in a dedicated drone airspace in Canterbury. "The speed of development in the drone-sector is breath-taking," Grant said. "The drones themselves are almost daily increasing in payload capacity, endurance and range. Their on-board sensors are increasing in sophistication and they are becoming progressively more autonomous." Within 20 to 30 years drones the size of 787 aircraft would come into existence, he said.
There are two major drone manufacturers in this country: Altus Intelligence, which provides drones to American news giant CNN, and Raglan company Aeronavics, which has been successfully creating drones that perform specialist tasks, Grant said. There are also a number of smaller and hobbyist drone makers that regularly come up with new and innovative technologies. New Zealand's regulations around drones use are more relaxed than elsewhere in the world due to updated civil aviation rules introduced in 2015.
"If you could dream it, and prove you could do it safely with a drone, you were allowed to do it," Grant said. To date, the CAA has issued certificates to 92 New Zealand companies to operate drones. Airways New Zealand, the country's air traffic controllers, has also been involved in creating the foundations of a drone traffic management system.
This article will examine the gyroscope and exactly what is the difference in the number of axis. The truth is there are not really 6 axis in a 6 axis gyroscope, it is just 3 axis with 2 types of sensors.
What is a gyro?
A gyro is an electronic device that senses angular velocity. Vibration sensors are used to detect angular velocity from the Coriolis force applied to a vibrating element. They are also known as angular velocity sensors or rate sensors.
The devices that make use of this technology include; aircraft, race cars, motor boats, robots, video games, radio controlled toys, digital cameras and the most common use for the gyro is in your smartphone. These sensors provide stability and direction by sensing motion caused by vibrations. There are many applications of gyro sensors. In navigation systems, it can be used to sense angular velocity produced by the sensor’s movements. These angles are detected through an integration operation by a CPU. You are able to read them using an application. The use of gyros is widespread and even can be applied in athletics to determine a runner’s motion capability. Quadcopters primarily used a 3 axis gyro but the introduction of 6 axis gyros made them more stable.
How gyros work
When your device rotates in a certain direction, the gyro sensors sense the motion on the drive arm. When the gyro rotates, the Coriolis force will act on the drive arm to produce a vertical vibration. This triggers the stationary part to bend making the sensing arm detect motion. The angular velocity is therefore determined by the motion of sensing arms. It is then converted and emitted as an electric signal.
Vibrations caused by external factors can also be sensed by the gyro. It senses the vibrations then transmits the data to a CPU. The vibrations are converted into electric signals that can be read by the computer. The remote operator can correct the orientation or balance of his/her object. This is also used in cameras for correcting shaky footage (electronic image stabilisation) and also is how your quadcopter can counteract wind and other interference.
3 axis Vs 6 axis gyros
The main difference between a 3 axis and 6 axis gyro is that the latter has 3 accelerometers in addition to the three standard orientation sensors. The pitch, yaw and roll sensors will navigate your 3-axis copter well but the added feature makes the 6 axis more resistant to altitude displacement.
The accelerometers compensate for any unwanted acceleration or simply movement in the three dimensions. This ensures the quadcopter can fly freely without interference by wind, going too high or falling to the ground. Any user learning to operate remote aircraft can easily make sharp turns by applying the rudder and roll features in the 6 axis too.
The other advantage of a 6 axis quadcopter is that combining the six sensors can detect both unusual attitude and a fall. By centralising the pitch controls and applying throttle, the 6 axis quad comes to a stable hover. This will help bring it to desired height if it’s flying too high or reposition it to an upright position if it’s flying facing an opposite side like upside down. Even if your quad tumbles while reducing altitude, you just have to increase the throttle before it touches down to make it stable. (I’m sure we have all done that before). I hope this overview has helped your knowledge of the term 6 axis gyro and you now are more informed on a key term and functions of your multirotor.
I began my career as a builder and progressed through to the owner of Mojo NZ Ltd. The first drone I owned is to this day lodged in a tree on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand. We now provide drones to all industries from toys to racing drones to professional camera drones. This blog is a look at ourselves and the industry in general.