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.
Horizon Unmanned Systems, a company based in Singapore, just announced a new type of quadcopter that runs on hydrogen instead of regular old lipos (lithium polymer batteries). The Hycopter uses a fuel cell to convert hydrogen into electricity and they claim that it can fly for up to 4 hours on a single charge of hydrogen gas. The tanks a built-into the frame and the fuel cell can be shifted to accomodate up to 1 kg of cargo, with a reduced flight time of 150 minutes.
Unlike any other rotorcraft, HYCOPTER makes use of its frame structure to store energy in the form of hydrogen instead of air, eliminating energy storage weight. With less lift power required, HYCOPTER’s ultra-light fuel cell turns the hydrogen in its frame into electricity to power its rotors.
This technology sounds great but I would like to see an actual demos and not just a WIX-powered website and a PDF. Check out their website for the full details.
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.
The FAA has granted a 333 exemption to the Yamaha R-MAX, a remote-controlled crop dusting unmanned helicopter that tips the scales at over 200lbs fully-loaded. The R-MAX was developed in Japan in the 90’s and is a great tool for “precision agriculture”, which allows farmers to precisely target areas in a more efficient and cost-effective manner. From the FAA pdf: More…
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
For those of you that were hoping to get some cool aerial shots at the 2015 Boston Marathon, Boston Police has declared that it will be a no-drone zone, so you might as well unpack your gear and plan otherwise:
The entire route of the Boston Marathon will be a ‘No Drone Zone.’ The public is being advised NOT to operate any type of drone (unmanned aerial vehicle), including remotely controlled model aircraft, over or near the course, or anywhere within sight of runners or spectators.
3D Robotics, the San Diego-based UAV company, who recently announced a $50 million round of venture funding, just released a teaser video featuring what seems to be a new quad, and from what I gather, it is so easy to fly, even a monkey can do it. Please, 3D Robotics, don’t make these things “idiot proof” or attempt to market them as such. Sure, you want to sell a ton of these and DJI seems to be eating everyone’s lunch, but, being the open-source pioneers that you are, also focus on educating those who want to fly. The last thing we want is more fly-aways because of bad GPS locks. Technology won’t solve the problem with newbs trying to fly multirotors out of their window and stright into the White House lawn. More…
In this episode of the podcast, I break down “drones over Paris” incidents with a timeline of the events. I explore the media frenzy over a letter that a UAV hobbyist received from the FAA where they equate his monetized YouTube videos as a commercial endeavor. I interview the aforementioned hobbyist Jayson Hanes to get a first-person account of what really happened.
The Verge is reporting that everyone’s favorite drone-maker (har har) is flush with money: DJI is about to become the first billion dollar consumer drone company. They are in the process of raising additional capital, Silicon Valley style:
And The Verge has learned that the company is currently in talks with Silicon Valley’s top venture capital firms to potentially raise a new round of funding. Sources familiar with the negotiations say DJI reported around $500 million in revenue for 2014, roughly four times what it did in 2013, and is on pace to do about $1 billion in sales this year. The potential valuation of the company would be a healthy multiple of that, several billion dollars, although no deal has yet been finalized.