Top Drone Industry News 05 December 2016

Top drone industry news, hand-picked for you by Skytango’s team with comments from Steve Flynn, Skytango’s CEO. Edition: Dec. 5, 2016.

Hot topics this week: progress in the EU drone industry, drone journalism (read about the FAA’s decision to ban drones from the North Dakota location of protests against an oil pipeline), and drones in Search & Rescue.

Drone Industry News

SESAR Joint Undertaking, the public-private partnership responsible for modernising European air traffic management, co-funded by OECD and the European Commission, released “European Drones Outlook Study“, a study conducted by The Boston Consulting Group on the state of the industry in Europe.

The study estimates 1-1.5 million consumer drones and 10,000+ commercial drones currently flying in Europe.

It also forecasts 7 million consumer leisure drones and 400,000 commercial drones in operation across Europe by 2050, offering important services across the agricultural, energy, e-commerce, transport as well as public sectors. The value of the drone market is estimated to reach EUR 10 billion annually by 2035, and EUR 15 billion annually by 2050. It’s a big study and there are lots of other useful insights on the industry, so download and enjoy.

Qualcomm is testing the use of cellphone networks to add backup safety and control to drones flown beyond the line of sight. By tapping into the networks of towers that connect phones to each other and to the internet, drone operators would be able to track and maneuver them even when they aren’t visible, says Ian King on Bloomberg Technology.

Apple plans to use drones and new indoor navigation features to improve its maps service and catch longtime leader Google. Drones would allow to capture and update map information faster than Apple’s existing fleet of camera-and-sensor minivans. In March 2016 Apple was granted approval by FAA to use drones for data collection.

Great piece on MarketWatch by Sally French who critically examines the current state of the drone delivery industry, whose development, beyond the media hypes, seems stuck due to regulations, and which is still far away from finalizing and scaling on-demand drone-delivery services (the latest hype title: London’s forthcoming 67-floor Spire London skyscraper will offer tenants drone deliveries).

Colin Snow on DroneLife comments on the chances of Aerovironment to penetrate the commercial drones market through their latest QuantixTM drone and cloud-based analytics platform.

Last week I mentioned UK CAA’s DroneSafe initiative. Getting closer to Christmas, the US FAA  is also working to promote awareness on the topics of drone safety and compliance. A few days ago they released this video explaining how to fly drones safely. More than the video, I enjoyed one of the comments on the YouTube page of the video: “And now, everyone send this to Casey Neistat”. Fully agree!

Another new safety initiative comes from UK’s NATS (National Air Traffic Control Service): they developed an app to alert drone operators when they’re nearing restricted airspace or public places where privacy or safety issues may arise. The app is available for download on Android and iOS app stores

Buying & Drone Reviews

Are you in shopping mode?

Ben Lowy, Josh Raab and Kenneth Bachor of Time put three popular drones to the test: Mavic Pro, Phantom 4 and Inspire 2. Their video will help you pick the right model for your needs.

Ian Morris on Forbes provides a text and video hands-on review of the Phantom 4 Pro and Inspire 2 on Forbes.

The retailer AtlantaHobby on UAV Expert News compiled a list of the best 12 drones under $100.

And if you are looking for a camera, Craig Issod ( gives you the best selling camer drones on Amazon ranked by USA sales.

New Drone Products/Ideas

Shenzhen-based drone manufacturer MMC (MicroMultiCopter Aero Technology), founded in 2010 by Lu Zhihui, one of the original founders of DJI, has introduced F6 Plus, a multi-function drone with interchangeable mounts for a number of industrial and commercial applications, writes Unmanned Systems Technology. The F6 weighs 15.6 kg, including batteries and can be customized to support 200+ payloads.

Star Wars fan? Mashable’s Raymond Wong writes a hands-on review of Propel’s hand-painted, hand-sized, new laser-firing Star Wars drones.

Drone Journalism

Most of the buzz this week was around FAA’s decision to ban drones from the location of the protests against the oil pipeline in North Dakota, following a series of drone-shot video documenting the protests of locals against the Dakota Access Pipeline project, and gone viral.

The first article I read was April Glaser’s piece on Recode. She mentions a few interesting other cases of use of drones in journalism.

Another great reading on this topic is Peter Sach’s (Drone Law Journal) analysis of the FAA’s decision on sUAS News: “Why is there a TFR over Standing Rock?“. Peter’s opinion is that this TFR was requested and imposed specifically to bar media coverage. My position on the specific reasons for the protest is irrelevant, but I have a clear position on the FAA’s decision which is controversial at the very minimum.

Jason Koebler too, in a very interesting piece on Motherboard, criticizes the decision of the FAA to set up a Temporary Flight Restriction (TFR) over a four-mile radius surrounding the Standing Rock protests. Roy Gutterman, director of the University of Syracuse’s Tully Center for Free Speech, comments in the article:

“Using drones for news gathering is a viable modern technique, and this looks like it’s a government action clearly aimed at limiting access to a public place.”

The latest article I read on this topic comes from John Goglia on Forbes, who writes that the FAA has granted freelance drone photographer and Part 107 commercial operator Robert Levine of Minneapolis a three-day waiver to fly in the so-called TFR or temporary flight restriction zone.

Aerial Filming & Photography 

I enjoyed the making of “Digitized – Opening Titles”, short which includes aerial, underwater and ground footage, time-lapse and other techniques, and recently won the promotional category in the 2016 Flying Robot International Film Festival:

Making of Digitized 2016 Opening Titles from N. Kechagias, A. Lykoudi on Vimeo.

13 instagrammers and aerial photographers have been featured on CNET. Stunning images!

New Atlas show the 10 aerial photos picked so far by Skypixel for their 2016 competition, which runs to the 20th of December. Again, even more stunning images!


I read three news articles on drones in SAR this week. The Irish Examiner dedicates an article to our partners DroneSAR, The Straits Times talks about drones used to conduct search-and-rescue operations by the Chiba City Fire Department in Japan, and Matthew Schwegler, AirMap Product Manager and former search and rescue volunteer for San Diego Mountain Rescue, explains the many advantages of drones for search and rescue missions.

A project conducted by a team of researchers from Texas Tech, the University of Colorado and the University of Nebraska is testing drones to develop better predictions of when tornadoes might form. The drones can get much closer to severe storms than researchers usually can – a little over 1,000 feet into the air, and are equipped with meteorological instrumentation to measure temperature, relative humidity, air pressure, wind speed and direction. “The motivation for this work, as we often say in this line of research, is we’re trying to save lives, and we’re trying to minimize the damage to property. Part of that is lead time, giving folks more time to prepare for events like tornadoes,” says Dr. Christopher Weiss at Texas Tech.

Drone Events

Which are the top commercial drone events of 2017? We have just updated our very popular commercial drone events article! Pick the events you will attend in 2017 among the 100 commercial events we selected for you.

(and many thanks to Jeremiah Karpowicz of the Commercial UAV Expo for mentioning our list! Jeremiah just wrote an article providing great reasons why you should attend the Commercial UAV Expo)

Upcoming events till the end of the year:

  • Commercial UAVs Brisbane, Australia (5th-7th Dec. 2016)
  • RPAS CivOps 2016 Brussels, Belgium (6th-7th Dec. 2016)
  • International UAV Show Toronto, Canada (6th-7th Dec. 2016)
  • National Drone Show Washington DC, USA (6th-8th Dec. 2016)
  • Countering Drones London, UK (6th-8th Dec. 2016)
  • International Drone Expo – IDE Los Angeles, USA (9th-10th Dec. 2016)
  • UAS TAAC Conference Santa Fè, USA (12th-15th Dec. 2016)
  • RoboUniverse San Diego, USA (14th-15th Dec. 2016)

(for info on each event, check our commercial drone events article)

Drone Film/Photo Festivals

Now open for submissions:

Aerial Video of the Week

Jean Baptiste Su on Forbes interviews drone pilot Matthew Roberts on the behind the scenes of the popular video of Apple’s $5 billion new headquarters in Cupertino. You can watch the video and enjoy the interview:

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