During September I attended InterDrone 2016., global scale conference for the builders, flyers and buyers of commercial drones. It featured a two-day technical conference for engineers and software developers, a drone business conference and a conference for commercial drone “buyers and flyers” in more than a dozen vertical market segments. 3,500+ attendees from 50+ nations.
It was very exciting week at this year’s InterDrone. My original reason for going was to see what’s new in the Mapping and LiDAR realm. As an engineer, the photogrammetry we get from the output of our drones is a game changer for the survey industry.
I’m looking for that “Holy Grail” for topographical surveying, multicopter than can last for at least 30 minutes and carry the smallest but best LiDAR solution for the task at hand along with a decent RGB camera with at min 24MP.
What I’m learning is that this is a very expense feat, but after going to the International LiDAR convention in Denver this past February to InterDrone 2016 this past week the prices are starting to come down noticeably. My second reason for attending was to see if I could find a really small drone with at least 20MP sensor.
What I found out is that it’s not happening on anything small and cheap. I did find a few cute 14MP drones that might be better than what’s currently available. So still looking for both solutions. But over the week I did see a bunch of new cool drones and accessories that will make you pull out your CC and spend away.
Now as we all know the word or I should say number of the week was 107 as in FAA Part 107. To start things off, we got to hear from the head of the FAA Michael Huerta talk about this 107 and how they project the total Part 107 holders to pass the actual amount of Part 61 holders (Pilots) soon if not within a year.
More importantly, shortly after his speech, they opened up the Commercial Exhibitor Room (CER). I’m not sure about everyone else, but this was a madhouse like the next iDevice being released at an Apple Store.
Below you will see picture after picture of new and not-so-new tech. This was by far the best CER I have seen in a long time. We had a huge range of exhibits; from over 55 lb(25 kg) drones, to tiny ones that fit in your shirt pocket. We had Part 107 study courses, we had hydrogen fuel cells, we had LiDAR, we had Infrared, we even had a guy selling electric back massagers. (Yes, I almost bought one, which reminds me I need to do a Amazon search)
Probably the only thing that disappointed me was that DJI didn’t have an official booth, and the one local large DJI reseller had nothing really new from DJI to show?
But Parrot, Yuneec, Skye, Mirarobot, Husban were among many to have a plethora of new drones designed just for our needs. We also had cases from Pelican and Nanuk. One of the coolest booths I found that probably completely sold out of goods was Hoodman’s.
One of the amazing new things was only partially designed for the drone world and came from of all companies EPSON, yes the printer company. The very last item below will be by far the biggest game-changer for all of us and not just the drone industry.
As for the classes, there was something for everyone. I’m not going to bore you with the details, but there were a few classes that I did learn a thing or two about. Some dove a bit too much into the basics, and I was looking for the advanced specifications. I’m not going to cover much if any of the actual classes. The lists can be found on their webpage if you are curious.
I don’t have the time nor the electrons to talk about every single picture I took this week. So I’ll post them all but talk about a few. I’ll break it down into three groups. Drones, accessories and everything else.
Featured Drones Overview
1.) Yuneec Breeze
- 4K Video
- Stills: 13MP
- Flight Time: 12min
- 720 HD Live View
- Automated Flight Modes
Cute quiet and small only wish it had more megapixels!
2.) PowerEgg by PowerVision
- 4K HD Video
- 360 Panoramic
- Flight Time: 23min
- 3-axis Gimbal
- Weight: 2 kg
Unique, compact when folded, something James Bond would drule over a real “Talking piece”
3.) Parrot – eBee SQ – Professional mapping drone
Ag drone and the best one that does not include RTK. All it is missing is 8000 dollars worth of Pix4D. This folks is the best ag drone out there, hands down no one is even close, for 10k you even get the Sequoia camera! Again nothing even close.
4.) Parrot – BEBOP2 with 3D S.L.A.M. dunk
Three Dimensional Simultaneous Localization and Mapping Solution. Basically a new Obstacle avoidance device that is also available for other developers.
5.) SkyIntelligence – Orbit
- 1080P Video
- Stills 16MP
- Flight Time: 28min
- Carbon Body
- Wearable controller
- RTC package
- Stills 24MP
- Flight Time: 14min
- Mission Planner
- Video separate payload
MAX-8 (Hex)with SSP-360 LiDAR solution actually being used in the field. (Assuming others were but Xactsence actually had a surveyor here with actual project data.
- Video: 4K 25fps
- Stills 16MP Pro Model
- Flight Time: 25min
- Takeoff Weight 1300g
8.) Yuneec Typhon with thermal option
Not yet released and no prices! Claimed the Infrared is their own so hoping for a huge price drop compared to the competition. (Note how hot my head appears)
These guys are for real, DJI had better watch out or Yuneec is going to pass them by with both Tech and price. I would keep an eye on these guys! All they really need is for more developers to start making more controller apps for iOS and droid. Real professional looking radios I might add and available at your local Best Buy!
1.) Propeller Aero – AeroPoints – GPS survey targets
I noticed that they used a black/gray pattern instead of a traditional black/white. I asked them about this and they claimed in their testing this color difference helped give the aerial photos a better contrast to help the tech in Pix4d find the dead center of the target.
They said that when they are placed on the ground they take about 30min to bake in and for the software to triangulate their locations to each other. They claimed accuracy down to 2cm. Their website will show where these will work.
2.) Hoodman – Hood Kit
- Velcro for easy assembly in the field
- Size for each of your iPads iPhones
- Prices differ for each sized iPad
By far the best sun shade I have seen. Not cheaply made and when combined with the support belt below, they are just plain awesome and a must-have.
3.) Glyph – Ultra-Fast Streaming First-Person View
- Plug & Play
- Sense of place
- Weight 434G
4.) EPSON Moverio BT-300
Very cool with way more uses than just for drones. Main app they showed us would display on the screen the current location in the sky where your drone is.
So if it was not where you were looking but say to the far right, it would show a pointer to lead you there. As you moved your head the pointer would update.
And once it was in view it would display a large drone icon where you drone was. I see this as being a big help since the new Part 107 doesn’t require you to have a spotter now, this would in essence be your spotter to help you go from the display on your controller and then back to where your drone was in the sky.
Also had a camera for augmented Reality, don’t ask me what that really means to a drone! But cool stuff and can be used for more things than just your drone. Think cheaper google glasses.
HYDROGEN FUEL CELLS
And now for the big one, that Grand Poobah, then in ten years can go ya I remember seeing this when it first came out!
Last but not least something that International Energy had on display was all the talk. I tell you the only ones not liking it was the battery guys! Hydrogen fuel cells are finally here and yes they do work!
How would you like to go from 20min of flight time to 2 hrs?
It’s here the only thing is they aren’t talking price, and they aren’t selling to you or me just yet. They are in talks with the big boys, and all we can do is sit back and wait so we can give them boatloads of cash! They gave a flying demo of a Yuneec Tornado H920, and it passed with flying colors.
Registered Civil Engineer in the states of North Dakota and Minnesota. I’ve been in the RC industry since I was 10 and even worked my way through college at our local hobby shop, racing cars and flying planes.