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CES 2019 Delivers New Drone Technology, From Home Security Drones to Autonomous Fishing Drones

BY Isabella Lee
11 January 2019

About the Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

CES 2019 is wrapping up today in Las Vegas, Nevada. The annual conference is hosted by the Consumer Technology Association, and provides a gathering place for all those who thrive on the business of consumer technologies.

Drones first appeared on the CES stage in 2015, but the conference has been the debut stage for breakthrough technologies since 1967. From VCRs in 1970 to 3D printers in 2014, many of the technologies premiered at the conference have changed our lives.

CES 2019 Underwater Tank Demo

Attendees experience, first-hand the latest in underwater drone technology at CES 2019. Image Source.

This year, CES showcased more than 4,500 exhibiting companies, including manufacturers, developers and suppliers of consumer technology hardware, content, technology delivery systems and more. The program included more than 250 conference sessions and more than 180K attendees from 150 countries.

The Best Drone Technology Reveals of CES 2019

There were over 170 exhibitors in the drone category at the annual conference and showcase this year. Let’s take a look at some of the best drone technology reveals of CES 2019.

DJI Smart Controller

DJI introduced a powerful new remote controller for its drones at CES 2019. Compatible with the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom, the smart controller allows the pilot to fly without using a smartphone or tablet.

DJI Smart Controller

Using a crisp 5.5” screen built into the controller itself, the smart controller allows pilots to quickly get their drone in the air without the need to connect a mobile device. The ultra-bright display screen features twice the brightness of standard smartphones, with an output of 1000 cd/m2 optimized for use in direct sunlight.

DJI also made it easier for drone pilots to share their footage. The DJI GO 4 app now features SkyTalk, which allows pilots to livestream the drone’s camera feed to social channels including Facebook, Instagram and WeChat so that anyone can experience the thrill of flying a drone. Another new feature is DJI GO-Share, which easily transfers imagery from the controller to your mobile device.

The new Smart Controller is available for $649 USD on the DJI website. Shop the DJI Smart Controller.

Sunflower Labs Home Security Drone

Sunflower Labs showcased their home security system at CES this year, set to include an autonomous camera drone called Bee. Sunflower sensors learn your property’s routine and can alert you to any unusual activity. If the security system detects that something is off, it can send Bee to the scene to capture precisely what’s happening. You can also direct Bee to specific locations on your property.

When Bee’s work is done, it returns to its Hive—the self-charging, weatherproof home for the drone. Watch the video to see how it works.

Sunflower Labs - Alpha System Preview (August 2018)

The Sunflower System is not yet available on the market, but the current working model was on full display at CES. The company hopes to make the system available for residential, commercial, and industrial properties in the near future. You can sign up for updates on when the system will become available on their website.

AirSelfie Aerial Cameras

AirSelfie is a returning CES exhibitor; they released the AirSelfie 2 last year at CES 2018. The flying camera featured a 12mp camera and just five minutes of flying time. This year, they’re back and have seriously stepped up their game.

AirSelfie returned to CES 2019 with a whole fleet of new aerial cameras to reveal. The cameras feature unprecedented autonomous flight, wide-angle zenith lens, and water-resistant capabilities.

AirSelfie CES Cameras

The AirSelfie AIR cameras unveiled and showcased at CES 2019 include:

  • AIR 100 – The AIR 100 is AirSelfie’s most affordable and intuitive entry-level aerial camera. Retailing for $99.95, the value-priced camera is geared toward casual photographers and videographers aged 10+ featuring a 12MP camera, HD video and 6-minute flight time between charges. The One-Touch app experience makes the AS 100 perfect for capturing life’s everyday moments.
  • AIR ZEN – The AIR Zen is the industry’s first autonomous flight, zenith aerial camera. The AIR Zen features a 13MP 120˚ zenith camera and plastic carbon reinforced body that flies and captures spectacular photos and 4K videos without a connection to a smartphone. The AIR Zen has water-resistant capabilities, allowing it to be safely used outdoors without incurring damage. Retail $139.95.
  • AIR DUO – The AIR Duo is the first aerial camera on the market to feature dual lenses for landscape and zenith photos and HD videos. The AIR Duo features a 12MP FOV 80° front camera and a 12MP FOV 110° wide-angle zenith camera, along with a 120G aluminum alloy body and 7-minute flight time with removable battery for extending flights. Retail $229.95.

AirSelfie AIR cameras will be available sometime in 2019.

PowerVision Marine Drone

PowerVision made a splash at CES 2019 with the showcase of their new marine drone, the PowerDolphin. Wally Zheng, CEO of PowerVision, described the drone as a multipurpose tool that will have valuable uses not only in recreational activities, but in scientific research as well:

The PowerDolphin is a new lifestyle robot that is not only suitable for water sports, photography, and fishing. It is a product that will help a scientist explore marine life in many different ways.

–Wally Zheng, CEO of PowerVision

PowerDolphin Underwater Drone

Perhaps one of the most interesting features of the PowerDolphin is its intelligent fishing and mapping function. Through external mounting equipment, it can find fish, lure fish, and perform troll fishing. Real-time detection within 131 feet underwater helps anglers accurately determine active fishing spots. Equipped with an intelligent sonar device and GPS waypoint function, drawing underwater topographic maps is a first in the marine drone industry.

PowerDolphin comes in 3 different packages consisting of the Standard, Explorer, and Wizard models, which will be ready to ship by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

Geneinno Underwater Drone

Furthering the category of underwater drone technology at CES, Geneinno showcased new extensions for its underwater drone, the Titan.

Geneinno Titan

Geneinno debuted the Titan at CES 2018 as the world’s first underwater drone with a robotic arm. It is also the deepest diving underwater drone with a 4K camera, able to dive up to 492ft and has extension support.

Titan is perfect for professional underwater filming. It has a 4k camera with the ability to record vivid underwater life backed by 6 thrusters to ensure stability while filming. Also incorporated in its design are self-balancing and anti-current algorithms for the best underwater performance. Titan won the Red Dot Design Award at CES last year.

The Titan retails at $2,599 USD. Shop the Titan on Amazon.

Drone Flights on Verizon’s 5G Network

In a keynote address at CES 2019, Verizon Chief Executive Officer Hans Vestberg discussed upcoming breakthroughs in connectivity, shaping the direction of change and how 5G will impact how we live, work and play.

5G is way more than just a step up from current wireless technology. It’s a quantum leap that will bring an era of radically new possibilities across all areas of technology.

–Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon

Vestberg emphasized that 5G is for more than just the handheld mobile device—it will transform technology from from AR and VR, AI, autonomous vehicles, and unmanned aerial systems. During the keynote, Skyward President Mariah Scott said that Verizon is committed to being the first to connect 1 million drone flights on its 5G network.

Skyward is a provider of enterprise drone software and a LAANC supplier. Verizon acquired Skyward in 2017.

Skyward Verizon CES 2019

Verizon CEO, Hans Vestberg, and Mariah Scott of Skyward discuss major strides in the union of drones and 5G connectivity during Verizon keynote. Image Source.

During the keynote, Scott also spoke about how 5G will impact the business of managing the airspace.

With 5G, managing the airspace will look a lot like managing the network. We will deliver aviation-grade connectivity and fleet management services that allow our customers to safely and efficiently manage flying sensors on the edge of the network.

–Mariah Scott, President of Skyward

To close the keynote, Vestberg officially launched Verizon’s “Built on 5G Challenge,” calling on innovators to create new solutions that leverage 5G connectivity to transform the way people live, work and play.

LiDAR and Thermal Sensors

We also saw advances in LiDAR sensors at CES 2019 from companies including Ouster and RoboSense. LiDAR technology uses light detection and range to provide incredibly precise, measurable data. We’ve seen LiDAR used with drones to conduct inspection, surveying, and mapping activities.

The LiDAR technology showcased at CES 2019 was designed primarily for use with large autonomous vehicles, such as self-driving cars. The multi-beam flash LiDAR sensor, OS-1-128, from Ouster was awarded the CES Innovation Award in the Vehicle Intelligence and Self-Driving Technology category.

FLIR, a world-leading maker of thermal sensors and cameras, also exhibited at the conference. Just a few weeks prior to the show, FLIR and DJI announced a new partnership—the Mavic 2 Enterprise Dual equipped with the smallest, dual-sensor, 4k and thermal microcamera from FLIR. FLIR continued to expand their line of sensor systems at CES 2019 with the Next-Generation FLIR ADK for the development of self-driving cars.

We expect to see these advances in LiDAR and thermal sensors transfer over into the small unmanned aerial vehicle sector in 2019 as well.

What were your favorite moments and announcements from CES 2019? Share your thoughts on the UAV Coach Community Forum.

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