Drone News Roundup: DJI Mini SE Is for Sale—but Not in the U.S., Using Drones to Protect Sharks from People, and More!

BY Zacc Dukowitz
9 July 2021

This week we’re covering the release of the DJI Mini SE, which has been launched internationally but not in the U.S. or Europe.

We’re also covering the Australian government’s expansion of its SharkSmart system to keep its beaches safe from sharks while also keeping sharks safe from people, a drone video of a horse race, a Boston Dynamics video showing its robots dancing in a choreographed routine, and Wing’s new OpenSky app for drone pilots.

Now let’s get to those links!

DJI Mini SE Is for Sale—but Not in the U.S.

Image credit: DJI

A few weeks back we wrote about the leaked DJI Mini SE, which had been shown in stock at a Walmart and was even live on Walmart’s website despite not having been officially launched. At the time, we speculated that the SE would be released by mid-July based on rumors we were hearing in the drone industry. Well, the newest drone from DJI is now live, but not in the U.S. According to DJI, the Mini SE won’t be sold in Europe (except for Russia) or the U.S.—ever.

If you’re wondering how, exactly, the Mini SE differs from the Mavic Mini, here is what DJI had to say: “[The Mini SE] uses the internal components of the Mavic Mini in the shell of the Mini 2, which generates slightly higher wind resistance but provides much of the performance of the original Mavic Mini at a very attractive price.” Put simply, the new Mini SE is a slightly better Mavic Mini that costs about $100 less than the Mavic Mini.


Australian Government Using Drones to Protect Sharks from People

Photo credit: SharksSmart

For some time now, the Australian government has been using a system called SharkSmart to spot sharks in the water and alert swimmers and surfers in the area. The system uses drones to collect aerial footage over several highly-trafficked sections of Australia’s beaches, which is then processed using AI to detect the presence of sharks or other marine wildlife. SharkSmart has proved effective at keeping people safe from sharks, but it has an added benefit—keeping sharks safe from people. By spotting sharks and keeping people out of their path, drones present a non-lethal solution for shark control. SharkSmart is currently being expanded to include other beaches in Australia, with the ultimate goal of using it for all of Australia’s beaches. The expansion means more safe beaches for people, and more safe areas of the ocean for sharks.


Drone Video of Iroquois Steeplechase

We’ve seen race cars by drone, but this was the first video we’d ever seen of a horse race captured by drone. The Iroquois Steeplechase is a race that takes place in Franklin, TN, not too far from UAV Coach’s headquarters in Nashville. The video was shot by drone pilot and videographer Bobby Blevins, who works as a professional drone pilot capturing aerial shots for real estate marketing, promotional videos, and a whole lot more—click the link below to see more of Bobby’s work.


Boston Dynamics Releases Video to Mark Acquisition by Hyundai Motor Group

OK, OK, there are no drones in this video. But Boston Dynamics has been incredibly active in developing autonomous robotics solutions for commercial situations, which has a clear overlap with similar work being done in the drone industry. Further, this video was released to mark Boston Dynamic’s recent acquisition by the Hyundai Motor Group, which has been investing heavily in taxi drones. Spot is Boston Dynamic’s flagship robot, and the video features seven Spots dancing to the song “IONIQ: I’m On It” by BTS. Take a look to see how they were able to make seven robots “dance” in a choreographed routine.


Wing Launches Free App for Drone Pilots

Image credit: Wing

Drone delivery company Wing recently launched a free app for drone pilots called OpenSky. The app’s primary goal is to help both commercial and hobbyist drone pilots fly legally. In the app, pilots can see color-coded information that shows where you can and can’t fly—green means it’s ok to fly, yellow means use caution, and red is a no-go for flying. In addition to this information, drone pilots can use the app to get instance airspace authorizations via LAANC, log flight information, and plan future flights. Wing’s motivation for making the app is tied to wanting to make it easier for drone pilots to operate safely, which will in turn increase compliance and ultimately help efforts to expand new types of drone operations—like drone delivery. The U.S. is the second country to get the OpenSky app (it’s been available in Australia since 2019). The app is available on both iOS and Android.


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