CES (formerly the Consumer Electronics Show) 2018 is in full swing in Las Vegas, and there are some big, interesting releases on the drone front this year.
So far DJI’s launch of the Ronin-S has snatched up most of the headlines (although no new Mavic was released, despite some buzz about that being a possibility).
But there are several other releases at CES this year that are noteworthy, not just because of the tech involved, but because they indicate a strong trend in the drone industry toward niche applications.
Let’s take a look.
DJI’s Ronin-S and Osmo Mobile 2
DJI’s new Ronin-S is its very first one-handed stabilizer, or gimbal, for high end DSLR and mirrorless cameras. It’s not too complicated, and relatively light weight, which means it’s not too bulky to set up.
The fact that the Ronin-S can be operated with just one hand is a big deal. The original Ronin system required users to build potentially complex rigs to mount their cameras, but not so with this one, which is essentially an Osmo Mobile built for bigger, higher end cameras and lenses.
The Ronin-S is compatible with a range of cameras, including the Panasonic GH series, Olympus OM-D series, the Canon 5D series, the Nikon D series, and the Sony Alpha series.
The Osmo Mobile 2
The Osmo Mobile 2 was built to turn your smartphone into a stabilized camera.
DJI’s new version of the Osmo Mobile features an integrated battery with up to 15 hours of shooting, which is three times as long as the original’s battery life. It’s also lighter than the original, and comes with a new button layout that looks like it should be easier to control and aim from your phone while shooting.
Nuaviation’s Hyperlift 200E
The Hyperlift 200E is designed for a very specific purpose: to carry incredibly heavy objects.
This drone can lift a payload of up to 200 pounds (91kg) while flying at high speeds, and seems targeted specifically at niche applications in the construction industry, where the ability to move heavy pieces of equipment quickly from one location to another could be highly valuable.
The 200E can stay in the air from 20-45 minutes, which means that it could make deliveries in fairly large construction areas, or over large farm fields.
“To build a UAV that operates safely and dependably over great distances and can be manufactured by the hundreds is extremely difficult, expensive, and time consuming. No one is doing that presently and we intend to be the first.”
– Mark Boyd, President of Nuavitation
In addition to construction and deliveries, Nuavitation’s website also lists agriculture and ice rescue (talk about niche!) as some of the other use cases for their heavy lift drone.
It’s worth mentioning that Nuavitation has been very secretive about their heavy-lift drones.
The only images available on CES are somewhat vague artistic renderings, and there aren’t any images of their drones posted on their website. Their site does feature the image shown below, with a note that explains they are “prohibited from showing this exciting new concept in heavy lift UAVs”, but they can show the shipping crate it comes in to give you an idea of how big the drone is.
Well, our interest is certainly piqued.
Thunder Tiger’s Sirius CX-180
The Sirius CX-180 features two powerful LED lamps, and is designed for use in night-time search-and-rescue missions.
One of the specific proposed use cases for the Sirius CX-180 is as a safer alternative to sending helicopters to rescue mountaineers in the dark.
The Sirius CX-180 can fly up to 30 minutes with a 33 pound (15kg) payload.
SwellPro’s Splash Drone 3
Unlike the Thunder Tiger and Nuavitation releases above, which are built for professional applications, SwellPro’s Splash Drone 3 is made for serious fun.
This drone is designed to help fishing expeditions catch tuna, sharks, and other large sea life by dropping bait from above. According to SwellPro, the Splash Drone 3 is the first fully integrated modular amphibious flying platform, which means that it can be operated both in the air and underwater just fine.
It comes with a waterproof 4k camera and all in one remote controller, and has a payload release feature that allows for fishing bait to be dropped into the water at a long distance from the boat.
Looks like SwellPro is angling (get it?) to corner the high end fishing drone market—yet another example of how niche applications seem to be the major focus at CES this year.