Top drone news from CES 2016

CES 2016 is gone but not yet forgotten. Discover our choice of the top 8 drone news coming from CES 2016, released by top and emerging players.

CES – the world’s largest consumer electronics event in the world, which just ran in January 2016 – featured an entire section dedicated to unmanned aircrafts, a rapidly growing category in consumer electronics.

Named Unmanned Systems Marketplace, this section was presented by AUVSI. We talked about this event in our post on top drone commercial events of 2016.

It hosted 27 exhibitors (up from 12 in CES 2015), including most of the top consumer oriented players of the market such as DJI, Yuneec, GoPro, Hexo+, EHang etc.

A number of side drone-related events also contributed to the interest towards this section. The Drone Rodeo, for example, took place in the desert, 17 miles from airport space (and far from the crowded convention center) to allow demo flights on over 100 new drone models.

Overall, drones were a hot topic at CES 2016, attracting a huge amount of interest both from visitors and media.

Several drone companies, of course, used this event to release important announcements on their products.

These below are, in our opinion, the major drone-related announcements to come out of CES 2016.

Top CES 2016 Drone News

  1. DJI announces DJI Phantom 3 4k & Black Inspire 1 Pro 
  2. Parrot launches fixed wing-shaped drone Disco
  3. Intel and Yuneec launch the Yuneec Typhon H Drone
  4. Intel shows 100 Drones video
  5. Lily wins CES 2016 Innovation Award
  6. Fleye Drone showcases its prototype
  7. 3DRobotics announces Solo software release
  8. Ehang 184: first passenger carrying autonomous drone

DJI Announces DJI Phantom 3 4k & Black Inspire 1 Pro^


DJI, the biggest consumer drone manufacturer, announced a new Phantom 3 4K with ultra-high definition video for under $1000.

The new model is DJI’s most accessible 4K aerial camera to date.

It’s designed to sit between the entry level DJI Phantom 3 Advanced, which features a 2.7K camera and the DJI Phantom 3 Professional, which also has a 4K camera as the new model, but with Lightbridge downlink.

Compared to this one, the Phantom 3 4K has a shorter video transmission range and at a lower resolution. The Phantom 3 4K can record in 4K but live stream back to the operator in 480p standard definition.

DJI also announced another product at CES 2016: “One of the most-frequent questions we get from professional drone operators is ‘when will DJI come out with a black Inspire?’ The answer is now” said Ferdinand Wolf, manager of DJI Studios Europe, in the press conference at CES 2016.

The Inspire 1 Pro Black Edition comes with a black controller, battery and a shell with a matte finish. It comes equipped with DJI’s Zenmuse X5.

Parrot Launches Fixed Wing-Shaped Drone Disco^

A big drone news came from Parrot, another top player in the consumer drone market, which announced its drone Disco.

The Parrot Disco is the first fixed wing-shaped drone you can fly out of the box (once you attach the wings of course!).

Its autopilot and its many sensors (accelerometer, gyroscope, magnetometer, barometer, pilot, GPS) permanently control its flight until you take control of it.

You throw the drone, it gains altitude and flies autonomously and turns in the sky until you take over. During the flight, which can last up to an impressive 45 minutes, the autopilot prevents any false maneuvers which could bring the flying wing down.

The Disco was designed by Parrot to be the first “ready-to-fly” wing-shaped drone, and the first everyone can easily pilot.

Impressively enough, this fast, smart, ultra-light drone can stay in the air up to 45 minutes!

Intel and Yuneec Launch The Yuneec Typhon H Drone^

Intel, the company known primarily for making PC computer chips, invested $60 Million in Chinese drone manufacturer Yuneec in August 2015.

We got the 1st glimpse of their partnership at CES 2016.

At their press conference Intel and Yuneec demonstrated the Yuneec Typhoon H, fitting Intel’s Real Sense Technology for automated collision avoidance.

Basically, the latest Yuneec drone is able to automatically avoid collisions, sensing what is around it, while following you around in real time.

It’s definitely a great drone: it was named the Best Drone at CES 2016 by Engadget, The Verge, PC Mag, and VideoMaker. In addition, CNET included the H in its Top 10 Products of CES.

This consumer drone will be available in the first half of 2016, for a little less than $2,000 (£1,300).

It also features retractable landing gear and a camera which can pan a full 360 degrees, take 4K videos and 12-megapixel stills, and provide the flyer with an array of auto features like Orbit, Point of Interest, Curved Cable and Journey.

Intel Shows 100 Drones Video^

CES 2016 was not only about the latest models and technologies.

Some big drone-related news were also also about applications for drones.

Intel proved that during its CEO Brian Krzani’s keynote on the opening day of this year’s CES, when Krzani showed, for the first time ever, the astonishing footage of “Drone 100“.

Drone 100 took place in Germany in November 2015.

Iin this event 100 drones flew concurrently, earning a new Guinness World Record title for the Most Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) airborne simultaneously.

Drone 100 was produced for Intel by Ars Electronica Futurelab in Linz, Austria (we talked about them in our drone art videos post).

The 100 drones in the air were controlled on the ground by a crew using PCs with Intel software.

The drones danced in the night sky in sync to a live performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, executing a stunning light show resembling a fireworks display.

Read more on the making of 100 drones on the official Ars Electronica’s website.

The video shown at CES 2016 obtained a well deserved huge interest by audience and media.

Lily Wins CES 2016 Innovation Award^

Surprisingly (for some), Lily won a CES 2016 Innovations Award – more specifically, the Innovation Award in the category Unmanned Systems and Accessories.

The Lily is the world’s first throw-and-shoot-camera.

It’s pitched as a camera but, as it flies, it’s also a drone and must comply with unmanned aerial systems regulations.

The product combines computer vision, GPS and stable, high-resolution image capture to grant users the possibility to document their movements.

After a hugely successful pre-order campaign (Lily raised $34 million in pre-orders!), Lily will officially launch sometime in summer 2016 at a commercial price of 1,000.

Fleye Drone Showcases Its Prototype^

Having successfully been initially funded through Kickstarter, the Fleye drone made its debut at CES 2016, showing its prototype.

It will retail for $1200 and it is designed with safety in mind: its main rotor is inside a plastic cage wrapped in impact resistant plastic. It looks cumbersome but it weighs only about 450g.

Funnily enough, the BBC reporter Jen Copestake managed to break the prototype while testing it simply trying to catch it in the air, but the whole incident demonstrated the safety of the drone’s design and of its enclosed propeller.

3DRobotics Announces Solo Software Release^

During CES 2016, 3DRobotics announced that they would release new software this spring to all Solo users in a free wireless update.

The new software will have Multipoint Cable Cam and Follow with Freelook enhancing the platform’s existing Smart Shots.

It will also include updated Safety features like the Solo flight simulator app (using the app to learn to fly without using the drone) and real-time airspace information.

Ehang 184 is the 1st Passenger Carrying Autonomous Drone^

There were lots of car announcements at CES 2016 both self-driving and otherwise but the Chinese company Ehang aimed higher – literally – with the Ehang 184 self-flying drone.

The makers of the Ghost Drone envision that everyone in the near future will zip around the sky in self-flying drones, AND they went ahead and built one!

The eHang 184 looks just like a gigantic drone – almost two metres high, each propeller is one-and-half metres long, and the drone weighs 200 kilograms.

Fitted with a cabin large enough to carry a single passenger, the eHang 184 is designed to fly a person up in the sky, to speeds of 100km/h and up to 500 metres in the air, even if its flight time is now limited to 23 minutes.

You won’t need an helicopter pilot license to fly the eHang 184; simply tap on the driver’s tablet your destination, and it flies automatically, planning your best route and avoiding obstacles.

The eHang 184 could be launched by the end of 2016 or in 2017, according to the company’s statement in CES 2016, but no countries in the world have so far officially cleared flights with this futuristic drone.