Highlights from the 2014 LA Auto Show

Quadcopter

The K-MAX drops a payload of water, which it autonomously lifted from a pond

You've gotta hand it to Kaman's K-MAX UAS unmanned helicopter ... it's been used to deliver cargo in a combat zone, it's set altitude and payload weight records for airdrops, and it's been part of an autonomous air/ground mission. Now it's teamed up with a quadcopter in an exercise which suggests that the two could be used to fight forest fires, without endangering human pilots.  Read More

3D Robotics' new X8+ quadcopter

Launched just two months ago, 3D Robotics' Iris+ quadcopter has one big feature that separates it from the company's base Iris drone – it features a Follow Me function, which allows it to automatically fly along above a moving ground-based GPS-enabled Android device. Now, 3DR has added the same feature to its more utilitarian, heavy-duty X8 platform. The resulting X8+ quadcopter can not only autonomously get tracking shots of its biking, running or skiing user, but it can also be outfitted with a variety of cameras or other devices.  Read More

The DJI Inspire 1, with its landing gear and prop arms raised for flight

Although DJI Innovations is best-known for its line of "prosumer" Phantom quadcopters, it also makes a professional-use multicopter called the Spreading Wings. Among other things, that model features landing gear that folds up while the aircraft is in flight, so it won't get in the shot of the user's undercarriage-mounted video camera. Now, DJI has announced its new Inspire 1 quadcopter, which combines aspects of both the Phantom and the Spreading Wings.  Read More

The eXom, with its camera head visible at the left, and one of the visual/ultrasound sensi...

Swiss company senseFly is best known for its fixed-wing industrial drones, such as the eBee and swinglet CAM. Parrot, on the other hand, has made its name with its consumer quadcopters. So, now that Parrot has owned senseFly for a couple of years, what's the result? The new senseFly eXom quadcopter, which uses multiple visual and ultrasonic sensors to avoid obstacles and maintain precise autonomous flight.  Read More

Artist's impression of the Krossblade SkyCruiser over London

Can’t decide if you want an airplane, a helicopter, or a flying car? Then why not all three at once? Arizona-based start-up Krossblade seems to think the same way with its SkyCruiser concept – an electric hybrid aircraft that not only switches between being an airplane and a quadcopter, but can be driven on the road as well.  Read More

The pocket-sized Anura foldable drone from Aericam

Could drone technology become so pervasive that soon you won't be comfortable leaving home without some form of quadcopter in your pocket? San Francisco-based drone company AeriCam is looking to ease the mind of traveling pilots for whom the urge to fly can strike at any time. Anura is a low-cost drone not much larger than an iPhone, with fold-in rotors for better portability.  Read More

The PlexiDrone is a modular drone with the ability to lug a range of camera equipment alon...

With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week granting exemptions for drone use in film production, we are guessing this won't be the last time we cover an unmanned aerial vehicle promising fresh new ways of capturing footage from above. The team behind the PlexiDrone really couldn't have timed its run any better, looking to shake things up with a snap-together drone capable of lugging a range of camera equipment along for the ride.  Read More

Nixie is a wearable drone designed for autonomous seflies

Nixie is a camera-equipped quadcopter designed to follow the user around taking pictures and videos on command, while conveniently wrapping around the wrist to form a bracelet when not in use.  Read More

DHL's Parcelcopter can carry up to 1.2 kg (2.6 lb) of medication

Although big players such as Amazon, Google and the United Arab Emirates have all announced plans to launch drone-based delivery services, it looks like DHL Parcel is about to beat them to it. This week, the courier company announced that it will begin using its unmanned DHL Parcelcopter to deliver pharmaceuticals from the German seaside village of Norddeich, across 12 km (7.5 miles) of the North Sea, to the small island of Juist.  Read More

Illuminated lampshades take to the air (with a little help from a drone inside each one), ...

Fans of the Disney classic Fantasia will no doubt remember the Sorcerer's Apprentice segment of that film, in which a hapless Mickey Mouse accidentally brings an army of mops to life. Well, Cirque du Soleil has teamed up with ETH Zurich and spinoff group Verity Studios to create a somewhat similar video entitled Sparked – instead of mops, however, it features a fleet of lampshade-clad quadcopters.  Read More

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