So Christmas is over. But luckily for drone pilots and tech enthusiasts, CES 2017 is the most wonderful time of the year anyway. The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is traditionally the venue for a host of product announcements and futuristic prototypes, and the drone industry is no different. This year we were introduced to new products from DJI, Yuneec and a bunch of smaller startups. Here are the top talking points…
Karma is coming back
That’s right. Back in November 2016 GoPro Karmas began to randomly fall out of the sky. The company decided to act. After a recall that was devastating both for GoPro’s profits and reputation, the tech giant most famous for its range of action cameras revealed at CES 2017 that the Karma will be back on sale later this year.
CEO Nick Woodman also confirmed that the fault was found to be in securing the battery, leading to sudden losses of power in GoPro’s first drone. There was no further information on when the Karma will be made available again, but Woodman did state than an announcement next month will shed more light on the Karma’s future.
DJI targets commercial pilots
2016 ended with the surprise release of two new drones for the consumer/prosumer market, DJI’s Phantom 4 Pro and the Inspire 2. The Chinese manufacturer started the new year with some products aimed at professional flyers. The first is an application, DJI Ground Station Pro, which takes flight planning, logging and mission management to new heights.
The second was a new monitor for commercial missions, called the CrystalSky display. The CrystalSky will come in two sizes, and are being designed for super-bright, 4K resolution to allow pilots to use a variety of aerial photography techniques in real time.
EHANG releases footage of 184 tests
One whole year ago the drone world went crazy at the sight of the EHANG 184, a passenger drone designed for autonomous flight and short, Uber-style trips. To celebrate its one year anniversary and show exactly how far the company has come on from the prototype stage, EHANG released footage of successful testing. We still don’t know how close we are to this technology becoming a reality, but it’s likely that it’ll be perfected well before aviation legislators have got around to coming up with concrete rules for its use.
Selfie drones take center stage
There’s a nagging sense in the drone industry that aerial photography and $1,000 quadcopters will never be truly mainstream. With the entry of companies like GoPro, this could change. But many startups are looking at things differently, instead developing drones that are smaller, cheaper, more accessible and perfect for easy aerial selfies. This is the rise of the selfie drones, and CES 2017 was an ideal platform for many to say hello to the wider tech world.
Among the many foldable and selfie-focused exhibitors this year was the Dobby S from ZeroTech, the Mola UFO from Nine Eagles, the tiny Hobbico C-Me, and the Wingsland S6.
One last thing from CES 2017
One final bit of news that you may have missed out on from CES 2017: DJI has also launched a limited edition Chinese New Year version of its highly regarded Phantom 4 drone. Sure, the company is probably just looking for a way to get rid of its older models now that there are new drones on its books, but that doesn’t stop this paint job from being a big step up from the original.
Copter Bill was at reviewing the CES drone goodies this year. We’ll have his review coming up soon. Did you attend? We heard it was VERY packed. Let us know what you thought of the show this year in the comments below.