Drone News Roundup: DJI Makes Time’s List of 100 Most Influential Companies, Drone Swallowed by Tornado, and More!

BY Zacc Dukowitz
7 May 2021

This week we’re covering DJI making Time’s new list of the 100 most influential companies in the world.

We’re also covering a drone video of a tornado taken moments before the drone gets swallowed up by the wind, a drone video of a huge formation of Manta rays, new data from DroneAnalyst that shows the sale of drones went up during the pandemic, and the announcement of dates and presentation topics for the 2021 FAA UAS symposium.

Now let’s get to those links!

DJI Makes Time’s List of 100 Most Influential Companies of 2021

Photo credit: DJI

This year Time has rolled out a brand new top 100 list: a list of the most influential companies in the world. And DJI is on it. In the short description of the company provided in the list, Time writer Charlie Campbell mentions DJI’s domination of 70% of the global consumer drone market and the fact that the company has helped put “high-spec drones within reach of every budding photographer.” The controversy over whether DJI is sharing consumer data with the Chinese government is briefly mentioned, but the focus is on the company’s creation story—how its founder Frank Wang went from tinkering in his dorm room to launching the biggest drone company ever.


Drone Video Shows a Tornado Just Before It Swallows the Drone

Losing drones while in the process of getting incredible footage seems to be happening more and more these days. Recent eruptions of the Fagradalsfjall Volcano in Iceland have led to several videos of drone pilots flying dangerously close to the plumes of lava and losing their drone, but getting the shot. The epic video featured above was shot in the same spirit, with the pilot flying so close to a tornado that he ends up losing the drone’s signal. A big difference between this video and the volcano videos is that the pilot seems to have been much closer to danger—flying that close while a tornado is snaking toward you had to have been pretty terrifying, and we’re glad he made it out in one piece.


Drone Shark App Captures Video of Huge Formation of Rays

It’s incredible to see what gets captured when you put a drone in the air and start looking down at nature. Before watching this video we had no idea that rays traveled in a pack (fun fact—the correct name for a group of rays is a fever). The video was shot by Drone Shark App off Bondi Beach, in Australia. The primary goal of the App and the drones it uses to collect aerial data over the waters of Australia is to “provide drone footage for surfers and shark alerts for beach-goer protection.” But it’s also been capturing some incredible footage of natural phenomena—watch the video to see how the rays move in formation, seeming to operate as a single unit, just like a school of fish or a flock of birds in flight.


COVID-19 Boosted the Sale of Drone Hardware

Image credit: DroneAnalyst

2020 was an incredibly tough year for many industries throughout the world. But the drone industry actually saw a surge in sales due to the pandemic. According to data from DroneAnalyst’s first-ever Hardware Sector Report, drone hardware sales went up in every part of the drone industry last year, with only one exception. That exception was drone hardware made for creative professionals—not much of a surprise there, given how hard the economy was hit by quarantines and shutdowns. But in Agriculture Spraying, Enterprise Imaging, and Consumer Imaging, hardware sales shot up. This seemed to happen not in spite of COVID-19 but because of it, with the increased interest in technology to support automation and social distancing driving the adoption of commercial drones.


Dates and Topics Announced for 2021 FAA UAS Symposium


Mark your calendars—the FAA just announced dates for the next two episodes of the virtual FAA Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Symposium–Remotely Piloted Edition. Both episodes will be hosted in partnership with AUVSI. Episode III is scheduled for June 9-10 and Episode IV is scheduled for September 14-15. These two episodes are the only ones planned for the year. The Symposium launched last year, with two episodes devoted to the theme “Drones. Here for Good.” This year’s theme is “Above and Beyond,” an allusion to the FAA’s BEYOND program, and has a list of presentations related to the new rules the FAA just rolled out about night-time operations, flying over people, remote ID, and safety.


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