CES 2016: Drones


(Las Vegas) Needless to say, Drones was definitely THE hottest robotic products in 2015. Drones, or more accurately, UAV (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) generated a multi-billion dollar industry starting with the likes of Parrot AR Drones, DJI Phantom Drones to the many variation brands in between.

Just like in any other industry, this success has attracted many manufacturers, mostly from China, to show off their latest drone products in CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

From the size of a few feet wide to a few meter wide, there were many me-too products, some only differ in size, while others not even in size.

Yet, from time to time, we do see true innovations, and thanks to the development of Intel® RealSense™ Tech solution, Drones can now “see, think and adapt” according to the surroundings, especially in low-light environments.

Drones using RealSense, like the Firefly, support Companion Fly, Self-Navigation, Automatic Obstacle Recognition System, making drones more intelligence than ever.

However intelligent these drones become, they still require human staying on the ground to control the take off and navigate, right?

How about a drone that can carry “you” and let you explore the world with your own eyes! This is precisely what EHANG came up with. The EHANG 184 is the first one to build a drone that can carry one passenger.

In fact, this make the EHANG not a UAV, as it’s no longer Unmanned.

Safety concerns aside, this development is quite significant in that it breaks the boundary of drone from aerial recording, into the realms of transportation. This used to something inside a Sci-Fi movie. In fact the EHANG184 feels a bit like the BubbleShip Tom Cruise flies in the movie Oblivion (2013).

The EHANG184, if or when it’s ready for the market will create a lot of concerns. Safety, licensing, regulations...etc, but it will also open the door to the possibility of people owning a driveable-drone just like owning a car today.

When that day arrives, road systems will no longer be flat and 2D but truly 3-dimensional with vertical paths that we’ve only seen in the movies.

Buildings can be even higher, and elevators will not be the only way to get to your floor. Parking space are no longer on the ground or underground, instead on the balcony. Instead of a large drive-way and front door, your home will need a bigger window as entrance.

The dream of personal aerial travel has long been a science fiction. It is one of the biggest remaining “futuristic dream” yet to be met. Go watch Back to the Future II again, and you’ll see what I mean.

Last but not least, Nokia is making a come-back with drones?? What’s that all about?? Who are they designing it for? We will take a look at it next time.

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