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Friday, January 8, 2016

CES 2016: 5 Game-Changing Drones Big and Small


Copyright © 2016 Bold Ride LLC.

After days of being bombarded with the latest in computer, TV, stereo, autonomous vehicles, and plenty of other topics, CES 2016 has wrapped up. For many of the vehicles we covered, the technology employed may not show up for years. But if you look to the world of drones, these are products that could be available to us much sooner than you think. Here are our favorite drones from CES 2016.

Ehang Autonomous Helicopter

Ehang Autonomous Helicopter

We’ll start with our favorite since it seems absolutely mad. You build an oversized drone large enough for a passenger compartment, then you DON’T put a pilot in there. Rather, this drone would bring would-be passengers to their destinations autonomously. If people are still uneasy about self-driving cars, this is going to make their day. But if the computing power and tech get to where they need to be, this could be a serious contender as a mode of transport in the future.

Parrot Disco

The funny thing about the Ehang product is that it looks like a scaled up version of a consumer drone. On the other hand, the Parrot Disco looks nothing like the typical drone, with a fixed wing design that looks more like a stealth bomber. It has a digitally stabilized 1080p camera in the nose, has a 1.1-meter wingspan and yet weighs only 1.5 pounds. As a result, the Disco can hit speeds of up to 50 mph. Parrot claims a flight time of about 45 minutes

Autel Robotics Krestel VTOL


There are typically two types of drones–copter-like drones with 4-plus rotors, or fixed wing crafts. The Krestel is a little bit of both, and takes inspiration from tilt-rotor vehicles like V-22 Osprey used by the U.S. Marines. Autel has created the Krestel with humanitarian aid and agricultural use. It has a 62-mile range, with a 40 mph top speed. The craft has a 4.4-pound payload, which is not much, but enough for crucial medial supplies.

Yuneec Typhoon-1

While many enjoy drones as a fun hobby, there are a certain segment of cinematographers that use drones as an alternative to expensive camera cars and cranes to get unique shots from places that a man holding a camera could never get. Some of these cinema-quality units could cost as much as $3000, and that’s a hard pill to swallow for small-budget filmmakers. The Typhoon-1 has the stability of six rotors, retracting legs for unobstructed shots for the 360-degree gimbal, to which a 4K camera is fitted. At $1800, this could be a powerful tool for any cinematographer, or just a hobbyist with deep pockets.


Now for something a little smaller. This tiny device is shooting for the nano-drone segment, where others have tried and failed to deliver a serious product. Onagofly is controlled by an iOS or Android device, and its quadcopter layout supports a 1080p camera. It has an Indiegogo page, where you can plunk down $200 for two sets of propellers and a charger. The device will ship for $300, and the company promises it will be ready by March 2016. What is really cool is that it can follow you around on a run or a bike ride for the ultimate ride videos.