Small, palm-sized quadcopters have a certain appeal within the increasingly cramped drone market. They're portable, low-risk and are generally an inexpensive way for rookie pilots to learn the ropes. But these pint-sized robots have their shortcomings. In developing its new Micro Drone 3.0, UK company Extreme Fliers has set out to work features typically found in high-end drones into a smaller package, namely HD video stabilized by a tiny gimbal and compatibility with Google cardboard VR for first-person view flying.
Getting to grips with piloting a drone can involve a steep and expensive learning curve. How these vehicles can be made to avoid crashing into stuff is a question that has plagued the technology from the outset. But the world's largest drone maker DJI says it has now developed a solution. Simply called Guidance, its obstacle avoidance system integrates with its new developer-focused Matrice 100 quadcopter and promises to make busted rotor-blades a thing of the past.
We've already seen floating fish finders that transmit readings from out on the water, plus we've also seen waterproof quadcopters
... so perhaps it shouldn't be surprising that someone has combined the
two. Created by San Diego-based inventor Daniel Marion, the AguaDrone
can first tell you where the fish are, and then fly your lure to that
While there's a great deal of excitement surrounding the concept of autonomous delivery drones, the aircraft would
likely all utilize GPS to navigate – and GPS satellites aren't always
available. That's why Prof. Martinez Carranza has developed a new drone
navigation system, that's based purely on visual observations.
Although personal drones are becoming increasingly popular, a lot of
people are still understandably intimidated by their exposed propellers.
Not only can those whirling blades hurt people, but they also regularly
get damaged in crashes. That's why Pasadena, California-based Polyhelo
created the Nano Tornado. It's a quadcopter, but instead of open props
it utilizes four ducted fans.
Quadcopters have shot to fame on the back of their remarkable agility and versatility, but not everybody is bowing at the altar of four-rotored supremacy. In a marked departure from popular drone design, US startup Ascent Aerosystems has developed a two-prop aerial vehicle with a HD-quality camera and cylindrical form that's designed to be conveniently slid into a backpack when you're headed outdoors.
A couple of years ago, UK-based product designer Witek Mielniczek turned to Kickstarter to fund B – a combination radio-controlled car and quadcopter.
Its ability to both fly through the air and drive along the ground was
certainly intriguing, although its ability to traverse rough terrain
wasn't necessarily phenomenal. That's why he's now created B-Unstoppable, which swaps wheels for neoprene tank-like treads.
Micro-drones may be versatile in the air, but carry one in your pocket or bag and you run the risk of damaging its propellers. While carry cases are available for a number of models, some are catering to the micro-drone class with arms that fold away for safe storage. Two Swiss roboticists are the latest to take this approach, with a palm-sized quadcopter that spreads its wings and springs to life in less than a second.
When people suggest possible uses for electric multicopter drones, it
frequently seems like they're forgetting something – presently, most
such aircraft can only fly for a maximum of around 25 minutes per
battery charge. Horizon Energy Systems, however, is developing a quadcopter that should do a lot better. Known as the Hycopter, the fuel cell-powered drone is hoped to be capable of 4-hour flight times once completed.
It's easy to be inspired when you see some of the aerial photography captured by drones. Perhaps inspired enough to get a camera drone of your own. But one of the hurdles in doing so (apart from the price) is learning to fly the thing, let alone capture nice shots with it. But there are a number of companies looking to break down these barriers by building drones that automate much of the piloting process. The latest to join the fray is Silicon Valley-based startup Lily, whose aircraft starts flying and snapping all by itself, all you need to do is toss it into the air.