Drones at 2016 CES: From Paper Airplanes to One-Passenger Vehicles

 
 
By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2016-01-11 Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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    Drones at 2016 CES: From Paper Airplanes to One-Passenger Vehicles
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    Drones at 2016 CES: From Paper Airplanes to One-Passenger Vehicles

    Drones had a significant presence at the Las Vegas CES, with some of the newest technology coming from companies that include Yuneec, DJI and Autel Robotics.
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    Qualcomm Taking to the Air
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    Qualcomm Taking to the Air

    Qualcomm, best known for its mobile chips for smartphones and tablets, in September 2015 unveiled Snapdragon Flight, a platform that pulls together everything from processing power to navigation, 4K video and cameras onto a 58mm-by-40mm board. At the show, Tencent and ZeroTech demonstrated a commercial drone called Ying based on Snapdragon Flight.
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    Intel Brings Drones to the Stage
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    Intel Brings Drones to the Stage

    CEO Brian Krzanich has said systems like drones are key parts of the company's growth strategy, and at CES, demonstrated how drones from Yuneec armed with Intel's RealSense 3D camera technology can avoid obstacles. Last year, Intel invested $60 million in Yuneec, and, as CES got underway, announced it was buying drone software maker Ascending Technologies.
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    Yuneec and Its New Drone
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    Yuneec and Its New Drone

    The company at CES showed off its latest machine, the Typhoon H, which has six rotors rather than the four on its other drones. It also features retractable landing gear, a camera that pans 360 degrees and an array of autonomous capabilities.
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     DJI Brings WiFi to Its Phantom Line
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    DJI Brings WiFi to Its Phantom Line

    The company's new Phantom 3 4K unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)—or drone—offers a 4K camera that sends its live video feed over WiFi rather than Lightbridge.
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    Drone Videos Made a Bit Easier
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    Drone Videos Made a Bit Easier

    3D Robotics introduced a few new features for its Solo drones. This includes the mobile app and multipoint cable cam that lets users fly to a spot, frame the shot and then mark it in the app rather than having to create a flight plan ahead of time in the app. Users also can save the flight plan in the app.
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    Using Drones for Humanitarian Work
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    Using Drones for Humanitarian Work

    Autel Robotics, which already sells three UAVs powered by rotors, introduced its newest vehicle, Kestrel, which can take off vertically and then transform into a fixed-wing drone. The company is aiming Kestrel for use in the agriculture field as well as for humanitarian missions.
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    Out of the Box, Into the Air
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    Out of the Box, Into the Air

    Parrot's newest drone, Disco, is a fixed-wing UAV that users can get flying by simply turning it on and throwing it into the air. It starts flying automatically, and built-in sensors are designed to make the machine easy to land. It also can run on autopilot.
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    The Flying Camera
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    The Flying Camera

    Lily Robotics' Lily Camera is essentially a camera with four rotors. Users can throw it into the air and start operating it, and the Lily Camera can start recording at 1080p at 60fps, and also can take 12-megapixel still shots. It comes with a wrist controller, and will start shipping in February.
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    A High-Tech Paper Airplane
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    A High-Tech Paper Airplane

    PowerUp Toys introduced a drone made of paper that consumers fold and then, using directions, install all the components—including a power supply, onboard computer, WiFi system and propulsion system. The device weighs two ounces and can be controlled via a smartphone or a virtual reality headset. It launches with the swipe of a finger.
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    Have Drone, Will Travel
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    Have Drone, Will Travel

    Odyssey Toys at CES introduced the Pocket drone, a UAV that features collapsible rotors that tuck into the body of the vehicle. Once the rotors are stored away, the device reportedly is about the size of an Apple iPhone 6. It also includes a built-in camera that shoots 720p video, WiFi and a microSD card.
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    A Drone With a Futuristic Feel
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    A Drone With a Futuristic Feel

    Odyssey Toys also announced Starblade, a drone with four rotors and a design that is inspired by the kinds of sci-fi ships seen in movies like the new Star Wars and Star Trek films. It's got more than 40 LED lights and a gyro technology so that it can run indoors or out.
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    Rinspeed Has It All
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    Rinspeed Has It All

    At CES, the company not only introduced Etos, a concept car that can drive itself, but also one that comes with its own drone. It also has its own landing pad for the drone on the back of the car, which itself is based on a BMW i8. Designers said there are multiple uses for the drone: For example, if the car is stuck in traffic, the driver can use the drone to map out alternative routes.
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    Get in the Drone and Go
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    Get in the Drone and Go

    Chinese drone maker EHang unveiled the Ehang 184, a concept vehicle that can carry a single passenger weighing up to 220 pounds over short distances. Through an onboard tablet in the cockpit, the passenger can input a destination, and then goes along for the ride as the drone automatically takes off, flies and lands. The 5-foot-high drone has four arms, eight rotors and weighs 440 pounds.
 

The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is often about future possibilities, with some of those possibilities being years into the future. Drones, for a large part, can fit into that category. There are some on the market, but many right now are more hype than reality. Still, they are generating a lot of attention, though it could be awhile before drones are commonplace fixtures in the sky. The Federal Aviation Administration is still working out regulations for them, and vendors are dealing with a wide array of issues, from collision avoidance technologies to safety and security. That said, there is a lot of momentum behind them from established tech companies like Intel, Qualcomm, Amazon and Google to a growing number of smaller startups looking to gain traction in the emerging market. And drones had a significant presence at the recently concluded 2016 CES. Intel and Qualcomm showed off technologies they are putting in place that can be used by drones, while many drone makers put their systems on display at a "drone rodeo" CES event at a shooting complex in the Mojave desert. This eWEEK slide show takes a look at some of the drones and accompanying technology on display at CES.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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