It seems like Drone racing is on its way to becoming a legitimate sport, or at least more mainstream. The Wall Street Journal reports that the owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross, invested $1M in The Drone Racing League.
RSE Ventures, a venture-capital firm co-founded by Mr. Ross, is providing $1 million to the first round of funding for the Drone Racing League, a New York startup that is planning its first public race later this year. The League intends to make money through sponsorships, media and ticket sales.
One of the challenges, is to provide spectators with live streams and more data, but it seems like they’ve got that pretty much figured out, from The Verge:
The firm has already developed a service named FanVision that gives NASCAR spectators access to live video feeds from race cars on their smartphones. Using this technology to offer drone racing fans access to pilots’ video feeds could help the would-be sport attract interest on the ground, as well as online.
What do you think? Do you think this will help change people’s perceptions about drones? What about the legal aspect? It will be interesting to see how this all pans out.
New America, a self-described “intellectual venture capital fund, think tank, technology laboratory, public forum, and media platform” has released a free ebook titled: DRONES AND AERIAL OBSERVATION: New Technologies for Property Rights, Human Rights, and Global Development. You can read it online or download the PDF here.
It is a very interesting and that seems to want to prove that UAV technology can be used for better causes than what the media seems to be focusing on, invasion of privacy, shooting guns and interfering with wildfires. Highly recommended.
A bunch of media outlets are reporting that Sony is getting into the drone business, but they won’t be competing with DJI or 3D Robotics; they’ve co-founded a company that will use drones to collect data and beyond. From The Guardian:
Sony is launching a company to produce camera drones in a partnership with the autonomous driving startup ZMP.
The new drone manufacturer, Aerosense, will use Sony’s imaging, sensing and networking technology from its smartphone range to create aerial surveillance and reconnaissance drones for businesses.
ZMP will provide the robotics expertise to make them fly. Sony will not sell drones but will lease them for “measuring, surveying, observing, and inspecting”.
The picture all the outlets are using (we’re using it here as well) is a bit deceiving, it seems like Sony is about to start selling a flying wing of some type, but Sony is looking way beyond, skipping the consumer market and going after businesses. From The Wall Street Journal:
“We’re looking to explore new opportunities beyond our core consumer portfolio in enterprise markets,” said Hiroki Totoki, head of Sony’s smartphone unit, which is providing resources for the drone venture. “The key to driving growth in these areas will be adapting Sony’s innovation in various technologies,”
Its an exciting future. Let’s wait and see what kind of cool applications Aerosense develops using these advanced sensor and emerging technologies.
It seems like the media love to focus on how “drones” will start delivering our Amazon Prime packages in the future (and others discuss the legality of shooting a drone that flies over their property) but there are many other reasons why the emerging UAV technology will improve many aspects of our lives. Faine Greenwood over at Slate, discusses why the media is so focused on deliveries:
Both the general public and defense analysts need to be careful about focusing on blue-sky ideas about package delivery and weapons-packing drones to the exclusion of imagining what impact democratized aerial data may have on our societies and our security. Drones are doing all kinds of handy things for humanity, even in the infancy of the technology. They’re being used to protect indigenous land rights, improve agricultural yields, create impressive works of video art, and more, and these applications are only going to expand in the very near future.
Head on over to Slate to read the entire, well-though our article. It will open your eyes.
Online publication RedShark News, that has a comprehensive report on the state of UAVs, in the framework of aerial photography and videography. The article discusses the latest offering from 3DR, DJI, ICAM and FreeFly.
I have been to several conferences in just the last four months, seeing a new drone at every one of them. This weekend, I attended the Nua.io Drones, Data X Conference in Santa Cruz, California. It was held directly after the SUAS News Conference in San Francisco and included many of the same companies, products and services.
Check out the full article, on the link below.
The world’s most popular “drone” manufacturer, DJI, has raised $75 in venture funding from Accel Partners, which values the company at a cool $10 billion. They are also projected to generate $1 billion in revenue this year, which is about twice what they made last year. DJI will use this funding to expand their vision: at the moment they are known for aerial photography and videography, but they want to get into other areas:
DJI had been a vertical company making drones for aerial photography and video, but the company hopes to use this funding to change that. “We aspire for DJI to offer a platform for unbounded creativity and exploration across areas as diverse as filmmaking, agriculture, conservation, search and rescue, energy infrastructure, mapping, and more,” said Wang.
DJI just started shipping their latest platform, the Phantom 3 and the Inspire seems to be getting more popular every day. This makes me excited about the future of UAVs: DJI is a huge player and this will only push innovation and the potential for UAV platforms.
In this episode of the podcast, I discuss the latest products from 3DRobotics, the Solo, and DJI, the Phantom 3.
Introducing the Drones for Good Award, a competion held Dubai, United Arab Emirates. According to their site:
The International competition is dedicated to rewarding the most promising prototypes of future services that may benefit humanity at large.
Teams were to apply in May 2014 and the final award ceremony was held in January 2015. The finalists were flown in for all over the world, all expenses paid, and in the final ceremony, the winning team of each category, National, Internation and Government, wins $1 million (US).
Check out their website for all the details, including winning teams, sponsorships and objectives at https://www.dronesforgood.ae/en
If you are planning on traveling to Cuba, now that the US-Cuban relations are thawing, and you are thinking about packing your favorite UAV to get some amazing aerial footage, do yourself a favor and leave it at home. From The Verge:
Dane Christensen was entering Cuba in February when a customs official pulled him aside: he was carrying a DJI Phantom, which the officials viewed as a kind of contraband. The drone was seized at the border, and stored at customs until Christensen left the country. “It was my full intention to use my drone to get some amazing shots of the beaches and Cubanos surfing,” Christensen says. Unfortunately, without the drone, all Christensen’s footage had to be handheld.