Send In the Drones


While on Twitter looking in on the AVTweeps hashtag, I spotted this:

InfoComm drones tweet

It appears that InfoComm was inspired by the #AVtvShow hashtag (where you create a TV show using AV lingo) to post this tweet and in turn, this spurred a bit of inspiration for me to write this blog.

Inspire 1 drone

Reportedly one of the hot topics from last year’s National Association of Broadcasters show returned in a big way to this year’s NAB Show 2015, and while doing one of our recent podcasts with call-ins from NAB, one of our callers alluded to the vast amount of aerial robotics machines and manufacturers present at the show. Yes, Aerial Robotics and Drones took to the stage in its own new pavilion – here is the description from the NAB website:

When it comes to creating killer content, the sky is the limit — literally! One of the hottest topics from the 2014 Show is here, live. The new Aerial Robotics and Drone Pavilion includes a fully enclosed “flying cage” that gives you an up-close and personal look at this technology in action.

One of the companies that took center stage in the Pavilion (as well as being the platinum sponsor), Shenzhen-based Da-Jiang Innovations (DJI), is regarded as the first Chinese company to pioneer a major new global-consumer product category. DJI claims to be the market leader in easy-to-fly drones and aerial photography systems whose quadcopters are the standard in consumer drone technology. The company’s civilian-use drones are considered highly popular in international markets and it’s estimated that DJI owns more than 60% of the global consumer drone market. Cameras are included with all DJI models.

The image above in the blog is the DJI Inspire 1 quadcopter. With the included camera system, one can shoot up to 4K video and capture 12 megapixel photos. The carbon fiber arms which propel the copter lift out of sight giving a full and unrestricted 360⁰ view. You can see the full feature set for the Inspire 1 here.

At NAB, along with their Inspire 1, DJI also showed their new Phantom 3 Professional 4K & Advanced 1080p Quadcopters:

Another drone manufacturer’s system that I considered impressive from what I’ve seen and read is the 3D Robotics Solo, the first drone to support full remote control of GoPro cameras while also delivering live-streaming HD video to mobile devices, up to half a mile away. You can record the stream directly to your device’s camera roll or use the HDMI output in the camera controller to output it to broadcast devices for live-streaming. With a pair of Linux integrated computers (one in the drone, the other in the controller), the Solo provides the user a number of “intelligent” features that give the drone greater autonomy – enabling it to fly predesignated routes automatically or handle camera controls without user intervention.

3DR’s fully integrated Solo app provides a seamless shooting experience allowing the following:

  • Live HD feed from a GoPro
  • One-touch control of all of Solo’s Smart Shots
  • Access to GoPro controls during flight, including start and stop recording

3DR Solo app

While DJI focuses on both the drone and camera technology, 3DR leaves the camera expertise to GoPro. A recent article 3D Robotics takes on DJI with Solo ‘smart drone’ compares the two and shows some of the Solo’s advantages, one being for those who already own GoPro cameras. Colin Guinn, SVP Sales & Marketing at 3DR explains “90-percent of our buyers already own GoPros. That means we can put more of that cost, and more of that technology into the Solo.” 

3DR Solo with GoPro Hero 4

And wouldn’t this be a cool way to take that AVSelfie with your iPhone…

iphone 3DR selfie

At InfoComm 2015 a brand new Pavilion dedicated to Unmanned Systems and Drones will also feature an enclosed cage presentation area (as did the Pavilion at NAB) for attendees to see their actual performance up close. Following is the Pavilion description on the show website:

The use of drones in a wide variety of commercial applications is rapidly advancing, to include 3D terrain mapping, oil, gas and energy sector remote monitoring, and aerial agriculture observation, as well as security uses for law enforcement, government, and military installations.

The Unmanned Systems and Drone Pavilion will feature an enclosed cage presentation area, where exhibitors will demo their technology and discuss ways drones have been successfully incorporated into AV projects. You’ll learn about the capabilities of unmanned systems and how drones can deliver a better mobile solution for your organization and customers.

The Pavilion is being presented in partnership with AV industry distributor Stampede (who also appeared at NAB) as well as Unmanned Vehicle University. John Minor, a graduate of the Air Force’s Test Pilot School, is provost of the Unmanned Vehicle University (UVU), a recently opened school in Phoenix that offers flight training for RPV/UAS/drone operators. The base certification course provide 10 hours of simulator time, 16 hours of flight school and 16 hours of hands-on training flying drones.The school will be represented at InfoComm, where it will join Stampede (UVU and Stampede formed a strategic alliance in March). At the show, Minor will be conducting hour-long instructional sessions on the use of drones for live-event production. You can read more on this in InfoComm International Resources article Here Come the Drones).

I’m very much looking forward to visiting the Unmanned Systems and Drones Pavilion at InfoComm and you’ll definitely find me parked outside the cage, watching with eyes wide open.

Check out one of my favorites — an aerial video created in December 2014, using the DJI Phantom 2, which shows the boroughs of New York City, including my home borough – Queens. Enjoy.