Top Drone Industry News 19 December 2016

Top drone industry news, hand-picked for you by Skytango’s team with comments from Steve Flynn, Skytango’s CEO. Edition: Dec. 19, 2016.

Drone Industry News

Getting closer to the end of the year, I’m reading articles on what 2016 has represented for the drone industry, and on the trends we should expect in 2017.

Drone Industry Insights have released an interesting recap of partnerships, investments and acquisitions of 3 dominant players in the market (DJI, Intel and Parrot) up to 2016.

Industry analyst Colin Snow of Skylogic Research shares some of the findings of the firm’s analyses from 2016 and reveals industry trends in this great piece with Randy Goers of the Drone Radio Show. The industry will see advancements in autonomous systems, deep learning, mobility range, flights over people, software, airspace systems, drone connectivity on the 4/5G networks. He also thinks that drone journalism, demand for ‘drones as a service’ companies, use of drones for public safety and first responders and legal conflicts between local and state regulations will be on the rise.

Colin’s article reviewing the 2016 commercial drone market also a great read, full of wise insights on the industry.

UAS Vision published an interview with Peter Van Blyenburgh, President of UVS International, the biggest drone industry association in the world. Peter talks about the progress in the harmonization of European rules, regulations, and standards, the state of the industry, public perception, comparisons with the U.S. market as well as some forecasts for 2017.

Talking about public perception, a new survey from the Saint Leo University Polling Institute shows that in 2016 the public has grown more familiar with drones and concern levels have dropped regarding the presence of drones in airspace and their use for commercial and civil applications.

A final comment on the transition to the new year: Tero Heinonen, CEO of Sharper Shape Inc. reflects on what happened in 2016 – with a focus on drones in delivery – jumping to the conclusion that 2017 will be the year of the boom of adoption of commercial drones.

The big news of the week was Amazon’s delivery trial made to two real customers near Cambridge, UK. The drones flew autonomously guided by GPS and flew under 400 feet. Lots of hype around this trial! The video went viral, but there’s also some criticism from various quarters. Sally French (The Drone Girl), for example, is of the opinion that the drone delivery industry hasn’t accomplished much in the last years, and criticizes the marketing hype surrounding it.

Amazon is also mentioned in this thought-provoking and deep article by Bradley Garrett and Adam Fish of The Guardian, on who owns the air. They express the idea that if the drone access to the airspace is offered to corporations such as Amazon, it should be offered to hospitals, research centers, and journalists too. It’s a well written, thought provoking piece.

In the meantime, the French General Directorate for Civil Aviation (DGAC) has authorised DPDgroup, the international express subsidiary of Le Groupe La Poste, to operate a regular commercial drone line in the Var department of France. DPDgroup will deliver parcels up to 3kg using drones on a regular 15km route once a week in the experimentation phase which follows 2 years of testing.

Buying & Drone Reviews

Are you late for Christmas presents and looking for inspiration? I mentioned a few Christmas lists for drone operators and drone-enthusiasts in the last few weeks, and this, from Sally French, is the last one. Here is your drone Christmas gift guide.

New Drone Products/Ideas

Infinium Robotic, a Singapore-based startup, is rolling out autonomous drones specifically built to dramatically improve waitering and inventory stocktaking in warehouses, and perfectly integrated with warehouse management systems.
A new bio-inspired drone developed by researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, uses bird-like feathers to adjust its wingspan while in flight. This ability allows for a more precise flight path and more exact maneuvers, reports UPI.

Drone Journalism

Shelley Hepworth of the Columbia Journalism Review comments on the potential of drones for investigative journalism and the confusing patchwork of U.S. laws and regulations that could limit this use. She also adds a good set of recent drone photographs illustrating this potential.

Josh Haner and Larry Buchanan pick 5 stories the New York Times ran in 2016, where aerial footage shot with drones was the medium.

The FAA has lifted the Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) banning drones from the scene of the protests in North Dakota, U.S. Rob Levine comments on this decision in a long article on Crooks and Liars.

Aerial Filming & Photography

Check our interview with John Eagle, an Ireland-based aerial photographer, specialized in coastal and lighthouses.

No Film School offers a second article in their Inspire Showcase Series sponsored by DJI. In their first article they talked about The Circle, the first film entirely shot with DJI Inspire 2, this time they focus on 4 ways to creatively use a DJI Inspire 2 on set.

China Daily has picked the best 15 beautiful drone shots taken in 2016 in China.

ShareGrid has published a short video for drone beginners interested in entering the drone industry as filmmakers. The video hosts Flying Robot Film Festival founder Eddie Codel and DJI Director of Marketing, Ryan Tong:


The Government of Malawi and UNICEF are going to test how drones could be used to provide aerial imagery to help governments and aid agencies pinpoint where the most urgent needs are during crises. The tests will be carried out starting April 2017 in a 40 km long “humanitarian drone testing corridor” outside Malawi’s capital Lilongwe.

Project Lifesaver is a New Jersey, U.S. program that outfits Alzheimer’s patients and autistic children with transmitter wristwatches, so they can be tracked and located if they ever wander off. A local County sheriff’s department has started using specially designed drones, equipped with the same type of tracking device that’s used on the ground, for the search operations. Drones allow a much faster and broader coverage.

A collaboration between the University of Michigan and the University of Colorado in Boulder is using drones (in addition to other technologies) to map surface ruptures and landslides triggered by last month’s magnitude-7.8 earthquake in New Zealand.

Drones for search and rescue is a growing sector: CBC News just commented on a recent approval for projects running in British Columbia, Canada testing drones for search and rescue purposes.

Drone Events

Nice write-up of the UTM Conference in Syracuse, U.S., highlighting the efforts that NASA and FAA are putting into designing a UAS traffic management system.

Upcoming events in January 2017(for info on each event, check our 2017 commercial drone events article):

  • CES – Unmanned Systems 2017 Las Vegas, USA (January 5-8, 2017)
  • AMA Expo West 2017 Ontario, USA (January 6-8, 2017)
  • Drone Show Korea 2017 Busan, South Korea (January 19-21, 2017)
  • CivilDRON 2017 Madrid, Spain (January 25-26, 2017)

Drone Film/Photo Festivals

We talked to Peter Hudson, founder of the Australian Drone Film Festival, on the genesis of the festival. (Are you are getting a drone for Christmas and want to familiarize yourself with the local regulations? Lifehacker offers a good recap).

Now open for submissions:

Aerial Video of the Week

The New York City Drone Film Festival compiled a 3-minute long video featuring the best drone footage from its participants to the 2016 edition:


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