Top Drone Industry News 12 December 2016

Top drone industry news, hand-picked for you by Skytango’s team with comments from Steve Flynn, Skytango’s CEO. Edition: Dec. 12, 2016.

Drone Industry News

Quite a few U.S.-focused news stories this week!

U.S. Elections are over, and now comes the time to assign people and roles. Trump’s administration has started the process. Leah Froats on Drone360 recaps what’s happening on this front and how the drone industry is responding to transition selections and potential outcomes. Earlier this week I read an interesting article by Samantha Masunaga in the Los Angeles Times on what Elaine Chao as Transportation secretary could mean for commercial drone use, and a piece by Miriam McNabb in Dronelife reviewing the letter the Drone Manufacturer’s Alliance (DMA) (the advocacy group of DJI, Parrot, 3DR, and GoPro) sent to Trump.

The Department of Transportation Inspector General found in an audit report just released, that the FAA doesn’t have a process in place to verify that operators actually meet or understand the conditions and limitations of their exemptions, and that they are  emphasizing education over enforcement of the rules for commercial use of drones (thanks Christopher Korody for the shoutout. If you haven’t joined Christopher’s newsletter yet, you should do it now!). The audit is available here.

X (Google’s company testing deliveries through drones) received its first Part 107 waiver allowing a pilot to fly a swarm of up to 20 drones at once, reports Lauren Sigfusson on Drone360. Alphabet also confirmed this week that they are planning the launch of a drone delivery endeavor, called Wing Marketplace, for shuttling food through the air to consumers, reports Jack Nicas on The Wall Street Journal.

NUAIR Alliance, a New York-based not-for-profit coalition of 70 companies and organizations working on UAS testing, has launched a 50-mile corridor to test drones in the New York state, including a testing and verification center, a dedicated air traffic system, and a testing and certification facility. The news follows the announcement by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November of a $30 million dollar funding dedicated to this project.

Did you know that Ford has patented a self-driving car that comes with its own drone? The drone could be used autonomously by the car or manually by the passengers of the car to map the area around the car (via Inside Drones – another great newsletter).

The telecom giant Rogers Communications reveals its interest in exploring drones as platforms to provide real-time data to the ground in a piece by Kristine Owram on the Financial Post. In a speech at the inaugural International UAV Show in Toronto last week, Stefan Galloro, director of partner programs and enablement at Rogers, confirmed that the company is working on testing drones to satisfy the growing need for instantaneous data transmission.

A new market analysis by Grand View Research shows that the global aerial imaging market is expected to reach $2.24 Billion by 2020, with increasing technological advancements in camera systems and aerial platforms, increasing awareness for benefits of this technology and growing location-based services as drivers of the growth of this market.

A suspect near-miss between a drone and an airplane near Heathrow Airport in the UK is under investigation by the police and the UK Airprox Board (UKAB), reports the BBC.

Sally French (the Drone Girl) talks to Randy Goers of the Radio Drone Show in a very stimulating podcast. She mentions and comments on some of the best news and people of the drone industry of 2016.

I read with interest the interview with Jay Rogers by Jeremiah Karpowicz of Commercial UAV News. Jay is the CEO of Local Motors, the company which created with Airbus the Airbus Cargo Drone Challenge (a challenge to design a drone solution to transport urgent medical materials to people and places that are difficult to reach).

The Edmonton (Canada) police have laid their first drone-related charges: they charged a 23-year-old man after consulting Transport Canada and Crown prosecutors, with operating a model aircraft without a permit on parkland which is a municipal bylaw, and with flying a model aircraft in a manner that is or is likely to be hazardous to aviation safety under the Canadian Aviation Regulations.

Gary Mortimer on sUAS News reports rumors that the GoPro Karma’s issues could be fixed – but he raises questions about the commercial ability of this product in direct competition with DJI’s Mavic Pro and Phantom 4 Pro.

Drone User UK has released their 3rd issue. It’s a new free drone magazine available online, with lots of interesting content for drone pilots and enthusiasts, have a look!

Buying & Drone Reviews

Still wondering what to buy for Christmas? Get inspired by this great list of drone gift ideas and presents for drone pilots and the drone-obsessed, created by Dirk Dallas (

Still unsure about the Mavic Pro? I read another positive review of this drone by Adam Clark Estes of Gizmodo.

Talking about DJI, during the first DJI AirWorks conference (10 days ago) they launched new features and improvements to both their Mobile and Onboard Software Development Kit (SDK) and Ground Station Pro, a new flight app designed for planning and creating 2D and 3D maps.

New Drone Products/Ideas

MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) has created a platform that lets you design, simulate and build your own drone. The interface, which is not available to the public yet (but its code is in GitHub), allows the user to pick propellers, rotors and rods, determine the size, shape and structure of the device, and specify needs for payload, material cost and battery usage. The system then calculates  everything necessary to ensure that the overall product is able to take off, hover and land, such as rod lengths, motor angles, torque, thrust etc…

Drone Journalism

China Daily‘s website (, which is China’s first national English-language website, has partnered with drone manufacturer EHang to improve digital news coverage through a series of training initiatives on use of drones for aerial filming and journalism. Earlier this year, writes Liu Zheng on China Daily, two of the biggest news agencies in China – People’s Daily and Xinhua News Agencies – announced plans to jointly work with third-party hardware companies to establish strategies for UAV news reports.

Drones In Dance

Dance show “The Machines” just premiered in Philadelphia, USA featuring 6 dancers interacting with 6 programmed drones. We wrote about this interesting interaction of art and technology in our blog.

Aerial Filming & Photography

DART Drones, a well-known US-based drone training company, is offering free access to their new online beginner’s course: Drones 101, which includes modules on FAA drone regulations, drone-buying advice, drone safety basics etc (via Christopher Korody,

Ever wondered how to create an interactive 360˚ aerial panorama using your drone? Enjoy this great learning resource by Dirk Dallas of

The drone photography contest organized by Dutch website Drone Watch is over, and the great photos of the 15 winners are available here.

Drone Insurance Depot, a Canadian insurance company, has picked 10 Instagram aerial photos of Canada.


Phys reports that a team of researchers at UC Berkeley led by professor Todd Dawson has teamed up with Parrot to test the company’s drone-based research tools as a way to monitor the Sierra Nevada’s giant sequoias more intensively, helping find out how the trees utilize water and sunlight and predict how they will deal with a warmer Earth and changes in water supply. “Before, a team of five to seven people would climb and spend a week or more in one tree mapping it all around,” Dawson said. “With a drone (…) we have the whole tree in a day.”

Jose Antunes in Commercial UAV News explains how the integration of drones, holograms and 3D maps can help to fight wildfires. New tools like specific Insitu’s drones and Microsoft HoloLens make fighting forest fires a lot safer for firefighters:

A research released a few days ago by Johns Hopkins University researchers found that large samples of blood delivered by drone maintain their integrity over distances of 8 to 12 miles. An earlier study this year by the same team demonstrated that the blood suffered no damage due to drones’ accelerations and vibrations, and was perfectly good for clinical use.

Drone-based shark detection technology designed by Perth-based company Astron and CD4 Intel has been positively tested off the coast of Western Australia, and the companies are now hoping to move soon from development trials to operational trials, reports Business Week.

Drone Events

James West on Financial Post offers some highlights of the inaugural International UAV Show 2016 which took place last week in Toronto, Canada.

Upcoming events till the end of the year (for info on each event, check our 2017 commercial drone events article)

  • UAS TAAC Conference Santa Fè, USA (12th-15th Dec. 2016)
  • RoboUniverse San Diego, USA (14th-15th Dec. 2016)

Drone Film/Photo Festivals

Now open for submissions:

Aerial Video of the Week

Winter is coming and I enjoyed these ice climbing aerials filmed in Wyoming, USA by outdoor athlete and ice climbing expert Aaron Mulkey:

Tis The Season from Aaron Mulkey on Vimeo.

Thanks for reading and for sharing and as ever, safe flying.