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Drone News Roundup: 2019 Record Investment Year for Drone Industry, Can Monkeys Fly Drones, and More

BY Zacc Dukowitz
7 August 2020

If you’ve been wondering whether the drone industry is in fact growing, a new report from DroneII covered in today’s roundup will answer that question for you. And on the lighter side, DroneDJ dives deep to find out if a photo that seems to show a chimp flying a drone is real.

Now on to the links!


2019 Was a Record Investment Year for the Drone Industry


According to a recent report from Drone Industry Insights (DroneII), 2019 was a record-breaking year for the drone industry in a few different ways. The total money raised in the drone industry was the most ever, beating all prior years, and it was also the first year in which the amount raised exceeded a billion dollars (the total investment value for the drone industry in 2019 was $1.2 billion). Also noteworthy in the report is that, since DroneII first began recording investments in the drone industry 11 years ago, a total of $4.43 billion has been “invested into the drone market.”



Is that Monkey Actually Flying a Drone?


When Scott Simmie of DroneDJ recently saw a video on social media that seemed to show a chimp flying a drone, he was skeptical. So he started doing research, and discovered that the video had been shot and posted by Kody Antle. If that name is familiar to you, it’s because Kody is the son of Doc Antle, of recent Tiger King fame (or infamy?). After some digging, Scott was able to figure out that the video was a publicity stunt, and the monkey wasn’t actually flying the drone.



Drones and Wasps Are Helping Save the Great Barrier Reef


In an ingenious drones for good story out of Australia, drone pilot Luke Jurgens has been experimenting with using drones to release insects that are beneficial to crops. Notably, he’s been dropping loads of predatory wasps by drone into crops of tomatoes (the alternative to this approach is to walk the fields with vials filled with little wasps). The wasps target pest insects, such as the silverleaf whitefly, acting as a natural alternative to pesticides. This eco-friendly approach to crop protection means a reduction in chemicals used for farming near the Great Barrier Reef, and that in turn means a significant reduction in harm to the reef and surrounding environment.



DJI Releases New Version of the Fly App


DJI recently released version 1.1.6 of its Fly App, used on popular drones such as the Mavic Mini and the Mavic Air 2. Updates include improvements to stability, better display logic for flight time alerts and battery life, as well some new advanced gimbal settings just for the Mavic Air 2.



Drone Wireless Charging Coming to the U.S.


Seattle-based Wibotic recently raised $5.7 million in a new investment round, bringing its total investment to almost $9 million. That money will be put toward WiBotic’s wireless charging and power optimization systems, which were first prototyped at the University of Washington starting five years ago. One of their products is an integrated wireless charging pad for drones (featured above), an easy-to-use system made to send power wirelessly at short range from the pad’s transmitter to the charger’s receiver.



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