Current Trends in Drone Design and Innovation
The Drone Craze continues to inspire new Drone Tech that will enable Drones to be smarter and safer. The current most important Drone innovation is to find the best application of “sense and avoid” technology to use in UAV drones. Which in turn, will make available new opportunities to company’s and individuals with ideas on different ways to use this technology, while at the same time meeting the approval of FFA regulations.
Many of these companies are looking to revolutionize and expand the current drone market by including advanced autopilot and hardware technology with their new designs, Once it’s proven to work, it can be then be used in other Drone Models as well.
Your probably familiar with popular drone manufacturers like DJI, PARROT and 3DR.
Check out some of the newest Drone designs and innovations in the industry that are or will be available in the near future.
NEW DRONE DESIGNS
DJI Spark takes the best technology and features of its bigger brothers and puts them into a small, easy to fly package. Control Spark using a mobile device or gesture controls. DJI took steps to make Spark very user friendly. Has obstacle avoidance technology, which until now was unheard of in a quadcopter this small, other features include, 16 minutes of flight time, a 12MP camera mounted to a 2 axis Gimbal. Intelligent Flight Modes -such as TapFly and ActiveTrack. Can also be paired with the New DJI goggles.
Now available on Amazon.com
The Cleo Drone is the smallest drone in its class currently and it’s unique donut design makes it easy to slip inside your pocket or purse. Controlled through a smartphone app. and claims 15 minutes of flight time, has a camera resolution of 13MP, shoots 1080p video, and weighs less than 3 ounces. Cleo is another example that shows the industry is trending toward smaller and lighter drones.
MOLA-UFO is a selfie drone with unique configuration and innovative structure that fits in the palm of your hand. Includes stabilization technology to ensure that photos are clearly captured even if the drone is moving slightly due to the wind. It can even identify objects with its camera and lock it in its frame for tracking purposes later, and can even follow the subject and snap photos or videos with its 4K resolution camera.
Unfortunately pricing of the MOLA-UFO was not mentioned and it is unclear as to when the drone will be available for purchase.
Yuneec Breeze is a new, low cost, compact drone, targeted squarely at the consumer market, that can do everything from capturing 4K video to offering versatility in the form of distinct flight modes. Works in conjunction with a companion smartphone app, available for both the iOS and Android platforms, View a live stream and even capture photos and video with the ease of a click. The app also makes social sharing of images easier. At $500, this is a reasonably priced compact drone that offers portability, ease of use and easy social plugins.
Now available on Amazon.com
The PD6B-AW-ARM is manufactured by PRODRONE Co. Ltd A Nagoya, Japan-based industrial drone manufacturer which has developed what it calls a large-format drone equipped with two robotic arms, enabling it to directly accomplish a variety of tasks. Based on PRODRONE’s large-capacity PD6B-AW airframe, which has a maximum payload of 20 kg (44 lbs.). In addition, the company says, the drone has a flight time of up to 30 minutes.
Teal Drone claims to be the world’s fastest production drone. It can fly over 75 mph out-of-the-box, claims to be able to withstand winds of up to 40 miles per hour, and is waterproof enough to fly in rain, snow and hail without problem. It’s also modular, which makes it highly customizable and easy to replace components should the need arise. The drone is controlled with an iPhone or Android remote control app, to capture 4K video. Features include a follow mode that automatically follows the pilot, autonomous flight, geofencing and more. The company is currently taking pre-orders, charging $1,299 for a unit.
DOBBY Pocket Drone from Chinese drone manufacturer Zerotech. With selfies in mind, the Dobby is company’s first aerial photo drone for consumers, the Dobby is made for people with little to no aerial photography experience, comes with a 13MP HD camera and starts at just $400. Like other drones, it can be controlled remotely from an iOS or Android device. The main feature of the miniature quadcopter is its foldable propellers, which allow it to collapse down to a size that will fit easy in your pocket or purse. With gesture based interaction, face recognition, auto follow and voice control functions.
Now available on Amazon.com
PhoneDrone from XCRAFT turns your smartphone into a quadcopter. The PhoneDrone provides the mechanicals, the four propellers and a shell — while your Android or iPhone delivers the rest. The frame is Shock resistant, water resistant, and floatable to protect your smartphone from damage. The PhoneDrone can hit speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, according to xCraft. Flight time is rated at 15-20 minutes per charge. Expected to ship late September 2016. PhoneDrone will cost you $300.
Wingsland S6 RC Drone is the smart phone of the drone industry, being the thinnest 4K drone in the world and equipped with the latest in drone technology. Also one of the first flat and foldable designs. It offers unique attachments like a Search light, Mini Toy Gun, Emoji Display Screen and Object avoidance attachment. Controlled by a companion smartphone app. Equipped with a harmless but hugely entertaining toy gun attachment that you can use to launch projectiles on targets.
Now available on Amazon.com
PowerEgg is an innovative new camera drone, developed by China-based company Power Vision, Has a distinct egg-like shape and cutting-edge technology using a gesture-based controller.
For $1,288 you’ll get the Egg itself, both controllers, the base station, the battery, necessary charging cables and a stylish backpack in which to carry them all. The company expects the first models to ship 8-10 weeks after preorder ends, so it should be available late 2016.
Hover Camera from startup Zero Zero Robotics. The Hover Camera can simply be released into the air where it will then hover in place automatically. Through smartphone controls, the drone can be made to shoot 13-megapixel stills and 4K video, along with 360-degree panorama shots. By enclosing the propellors in a carbon fiber cage, the Hover Camera can be safely grabbed during flight without posing a threat to one’s fingers.
NOW AVAILABLE AT THE APPLE STORE
Fleye the Worlds safest drone, about the same size and weight as a soccer ball it solves the challenge of drone safety with an innovative spherical design. Fleye can be programmed to perform autonomous flights and computer vision tasks.
ONAGOfly: The Smart Nano Drone
The Affordable, Powerful, Palm-sized drone with GPS and high res video camera to auto-follow anywhere.
It almost sounds too good to be true, but despite the Onagofly’s small size, it has specs and features typically found in much bigger drones.
Priced from $199 USD + Shipping
FLYBi, A drone that combines the latest technology and features to bring users a unique UAV flying experience. Now you can share live footage from the drone via the FLYBi VR app. With the Virtual Reality Goggles and the app, anyone can jump right on board and watch your flight in action.
You can pre-order FLYBi Priced from $495 to $999
Flyability is developing Gimball, the world’s first collision-tolerant flying robot capable of remaining stable after contacts and safe to fly close to people. It uses obstacles to find its way instead of avoiding them, offering a simple solution to a complex problem.
Flyability testing– The company is currently looking for partners with an existing business need which are able to test the product in different environments. While the pricing is still being refined, Gimball should be available at a starting price of $20,000
The Snap by Vantage Robotics was designed to be safe and break apart upon impact. Its main parts are held together by strong magnets along with a new design to fully protect the propellers. Snap can be controlled with an App in your Iphone or Android smartphone and can be folded up for easy transport. It comes with a gimbal-stabilized 4K camera and 20 minutes of flight time.
Snap is now available for pre-order at the official Vantage Robotics website for $895. After the pre-order period, it is expected to sell for $1295
Lily is a smart drone which flies itself, and you don’t need a controller to maneuver it. You just throw Lily in the air in order to start a new video, and it will automatically start following you thanks to a GPS tracking device that you wear on your wrist. Both the drone and the GPS receiver are waterproof, so you will be able to use it when it’s raining or while you’re rafting. Lily is described as the world’s first throw-and-shoot camera and it can shoot HD pictures and videos.
Easy Drone is an advanced, modular quadcopter designed for videographers that need quick, easy and affordable aerial shots. It is convenient to transport and quick setup without tools.
EasyDrone has wireless video and camera gimbal control built-in as standard features.
available now with a price of $985 – $1995
EXOM is designed from the ground up to permit the safe inspection of buildings and other structures. The drone’s five sensor modules, positioned around the aircraft, each feature a navcam and an ultrasonic sensor. These sensors feed cutting-edge computer vision algorithms, which provide the situational awareness and object avoidance intelligence eXom needs to make every project a success.
This company by the way is owed by PARROT. No cost info on website.
PlexiDrone, from Toronto-based robotics startup DreamQii, fits into a backpack when disassembled. The larger size comes with added features such as the ability to draw a flight path, obstacle detection and swappable parts. is geared toward portability and simplicity, modularity and customizability. PlexiDrone doesn’t have a camera built-in but is designed to easily attach one, like a GoPro.
Set to enter retail stores in mid 2015. The PlexiDrone Pro pack, which comes with a gimbal, will cost $769
HEXO+ is a lightweight flying camera that follows and films you autonomously. Surprisingly easy to use, just attach your GoPro to your drone, set the framing on your smartphone app and let the UAV take care of the rest.
With a foldable frame and legs for portability . It comes with a Director’s Toolkit, which is a Garageband-like app that allows for filming scenarios. With a flight time of 15 minutes with the gimbal, GoPro and a 3S battery attached.
The HEXO Plus will be available for between $299 and $999. The price will depend on whether you want a GoPro included or if you want to 3D print the drone.
AirDog does not have or need a large remote control. Instead you get an AirLeash: basically an armband with a small box and a control pad on it. Using long-range Bluetooth, the AirDog is wirelessly tethered to it, leading the drone around so that it keeps up with whatever you’re doing.
That package includes the drone, an AirLeash, a gyro-stabilized gimbal to mount a camera on, a battery and charger.
The AirDog is currently available on Amazon.
Spiri, the most versatile quadcopter on the market. Features autonomous obstacle avoidance, visual programming, and an intuitive smart phone controller. Spiri is both powerful and easy to use. With a 9-axis IMU, optical and acoustic sensors, a downward-facing camera, two forward-facing stereoscopic cameras, GPS, and an expansion USB slot for anything you add, Spiri is superbly equipped to help you explore, create and discover. Estimated Price $1,400
is a fully waterproof quadcopter with live video feed, packed with useful features and capable of landing and floating on water. This drone is designed for the outdoor type who uses a GoPro camera to capture their adventure on water or land. Includes payload release mechanism, emergency flare system and camera stabilization gimbal. Currently available for $1,299
Nixie takes off, captures the moment, and comes right back. A small camera-equipped quadcopter that is worn on your wrist like a watch.
You can’t actually buy one yet; the company is working on making the technology better before it puts them on sale.
Current Release date, Ordering info and Price not specified
ZANO THE WORLD’S MOST SOPHISTICATED NANO DRONE. An ultra-portable, personal aerial photography and HD video capture platform, small enough to fit in the palm of your hand and intelligent enough to fly all by itself!
ZANO connects directly to your smart device (iOS or Android) via onboard wifi and enables you to instantly begin capturing and sharing moments like never before. If it runs low on battery it will return to you automatically.
The Trace Flyr1 technology takes an encoded photo of you, the user (you use the FLYR1 to take the photo), memorizes your face, and then recognizes you down below as it flies, identifying you as the subject to follow.
The drone has an auto-learn function that measures ascent and descent speed, acceleration, and more, and it uses that data to pinpoint—and film—the moments when you’re kicking ass. At least that’s what Trace claims. If the function works as intended, it will drastically reduce editing time.
UPDATE: CURRENTLY UNAVAILABLE AS TRACE.COM WEBSITE NO LONGER ACCESSIBLE
You can control the Ehang Ghost via regular touch-based controls, reportedly easier to fly than its competitors. Ghost’s coolest feature is its tilt controls: simply tilt and move the Android in your hand, and the Ghost will move correspondingly.
By pressing on screen buttons, users can cause the GPS-equipped Ghost to automatically take off, land, fly to and from selected waypoints, or hover in place. It can additionally be set to follow, of course, in which it homes in on the user’s smartphone signal.
Ehang Ghost Now available at AMAZON
New Players in the Game…
Qualcomm Snapdragon Flight By shoving navigation, video processing and computation all on the same system on a chip, Qualcomm has created a virtuous cycle by reducing the overall size of the board and battery required to power the electronics. A smaller battery reduces the weight, which reduces the motor size, and in general, leads to a smaller and cheaper device. Qualcomm already has a customer called Yuneec in Hong Kong designing a drone around the new Flight platform.
GoPro Inc. is developing its own line of consumer drones to expand from its core business of making wearable video cameras.
CEO Nick Woodman announced the company’s plans to come out with a quadcopter in the first half of 2016.
Sony Mobile announced a joint drone venture with Japanese robotics company ZMP. The first images and videos of the Aerosense quadcopter, fitted with Sony’s QX30 lens/camera module, and VTOL UAV prototypes have been released.
While emerging technology will continue to bring about new trends in drone design and innovations. Each seem to bring about new questions and concerns involving security, safety, and privacy, there is no doubt that drones will provide a slew of opportunities for developers and businesses looking to integrate them into our everyday lives, unfortunately, the misuse of drones in our society is a problem at the present time and technology must be used to make the Drones smarter than the operator in order to sway such antics.