2016 might have been a turbulent year, but it’s also been an amazing year for the drone community. In 2016 Drones have definitely hit the mainstream. Now, at the end of the year, we’re talking about the exciting new products shipping in 2017, like the DJI Inspire 2 (as FirstPersonView showed at the UK Drone Show), but winding our minds back we can see just how far we’ve come. Back when the year started, there wasn’t even a drone racing world champion!
As the year began, many people were getting used to flying for the first time; in 2015 drones had blasted from a growing hobby to Christmas gift mainstream. In the first week of CES Ehang hung the possibility of manned quadcopter flight under our noses, but sadly the $300,000 drone wasn’t cleared to fly by the FAA.
Making aviation history, the first Quadcopter to cross the English Channel, the Enduro, made the historic 21.7 mile flight. The pilot followed the whole flight in a motorboat.
Transport Minister Richard Goodhall told parliament that the drone which had apparently hit a British Airways Jet on the 17th might actually have been a plastic bag and the reports of damage to the aircraft turned out not to be true.
The month of the second annual International Drone Day, FirstPersonView.co.uk played as big a part as we did in 2015 at the Brighton event, on hand to advise and sell complete drones and parts, when we could hear ourselves over the surprisingly swear-free live event commentary from the Let’s Drone Out team, and the world wide launch of Adam Juniper’s Drone Pilot’s Handbook.
The FAA in the USA announced the new section 107. This was new, significantly more sensible rules for commercial drone use, now in force, as the USA had hitherto only permitted pilots who could fly manned craft to use drones commercially. Now remote pilots of craft under 25Kg can take a (relatively) simple safety test.
A couple of enthusiasts in Hartford, Connecticut (yes, it’s always America…) posted a couple of videos on YouTube with drones firing guns and flamethrowers. Not entirely within the spirit of the FAA rules, as it turned out! More pleasingly, Star Wars drones were announced (now finally shipping).
Yuneec announced the Breeze drone, a super portable light-weight drone that boasts a 4K camera, simple phone-based controls and folding arms, dispensing the weight of a gimbal for a digital stabiliser for added portability.
many by announcing the folding Mavic Pro drone which didn’t just bring ‘trickle down’ technologies from larger models, but included Active Track and Gesture Control so you can take a selfie, and included a gimbal-stabilised 4K camera. DJI were not the first to produce a folding drone, but theirs has garnered a lot of attention.
Sweeden’s Supreme Administrative Court took the very negative step of requiring surveillance licensing for all camera drones, including at least 21,000 aircraft already sold in that country when the law changed; the new Zenmuse Z30 probably won’t go down too well there now!
With the end of the year coming up, and the new Mavic offering competition for their iconic Phantom, DJI offered the new Phantom 4 Pro edition, extensively extending the collision prevention technology and adding the ability to capture 4K video at 60fps. The high-end Inspire also saw it’s new model announced, and the Inspire 2 is available for pre order now.
No Business Like Show Business; December was the month of the UK Drone Show in Birmingham, UK, and the International Drone Expo in Los Angeles, USA.
Anything I missed? If not, lets hope 2017 is even better!