Me and Mr. Cheng with the Phantom 3 – April 6, 2015

The New DJI Phantom 3Screenshot 2015-04-08 15.58.00

I had the distinct pleasure on Monday to spend the day with DJI’s Director of Aerial Imaging, Eric Cheng. With their new product debut a couple of days away, I was tasked with sourcing a private flying locale and aiding in press demos.

Eric is shown above piloting the new Phantom 3 – click on the image to see our very special “dronie”

Below, Eric is speaking with Alex Fitzpatrick of Time Inc. about the new features of the Phantom 3 and below that a screengrab of the aerial “etch a sketch” feature of the new DJI Pilot Tablet App. Just kidding – the Phantom will trace its route in an inset window that you can enlarge to show its flight path. Eric skillfully flew the Phantom 3 to spell the word “Time” for Alex.

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What an impressive piece of equipment. You’ll no doubt read much more extensive reviews so I will boil it down to the most salient features:

4S Battery with more powerful motors makes this the fastest and most responsive Phantom yet. The enhanced GPS capability makes GPS lock very fast and very stable. I mean like you are parked in the air stable. In the wind. No drift at all.

Borrowing many features from the Inspire 1 such as built in Lightbridge technology, bottom facing sonar for super stable flight without GPS, and sonar based landing assistance with absolutely no ground effect perceived at hover inches above the ground.

Price points are as incredible as the performance – the Phantom 3 Professional has a 4K video camera and captures high quality stills in DNG Raw format – priced at US$1259.00. The Advanced version has a camera capable of 1080p 60fps and the same quality stills at US$999.00. Both use an aspherical fixed focal length lens that boasts distortion free imagery, it will live stream to YouTube, log flights, and features Director- an automatic video editing system based on moments you mark in real time.

The democratization of the skies continues as operating one has never been easier. This copter is stable, fast, and fun!

Thanks so much to Eric and DJI for giving me the opportunity to see it in action (and fly it like I stole it!) and to provide support in the NYC area leading up to the product launch.

NYCDUG in The Epoch Times – The Community is the thing

Although a bit heavy on tales of crashing, this is a pretty balanced and positive take on our group.

Fact is that we are at a place in sUAS development for civil and commercial use where manufacturing is done in factories making toys and consumer electronics. The reliability and durability, ie., the service life is short and the intended user is underserved and underestimated.

In the years I’ve been involved in UAS, I’ve seen a progression from those that became interested in it as a DIY endeavor because it’s fun, to users with real problems to solve. That embrace of the technology and the realization of what is ever more possible and practical is what will drive this forward and keep it safe.

Our consumer culture expects a product to work as promised with little fuss. When you pick up any smart phone, there is the expectation of functionality – it does what it says it will do. The need to become familiar with the interface is the only obstacle to successful use.

Currently, carrying that expectation when it comes to consumer drones will likely cause frustration in those unaccustomed. Outside of researchers and developers, the two main user segments that have adopted drone use with open arms are those best suited for its vagaries and shortcomings. The first group is radio control (R/C) enthusiasts; these are the people that are accustomed to building and tinkering and learning from failure. The second group consists of visual artists – photographers, filmmakers. Creative people think outside of the lines and see possibilities in things others may not ever consider. Visual Artists are accustomed to trying and failing as part of their process. What the two groups have in common is a passion for learning.

What I’ve witnessed as leader of NYCDUG is that creating and maintaining a community that shares successes and failures makes us all better at what we do with sUAS. It’s been said that the internet era has caused a lack of human connection for many, I must disagree. Without that broad reach we would not be able to pool so much experience and enable learning as we have. 2015-01-18 13.46.59

Sunrise to Sunset with The Aries Drone

What a fun day today! I had the pleasure of working with National Geographic contributor, George Steinmetz, shooting dusk and dawn exteriors with the nice folks from Aries Drone.

The photo below shows us putting the Aries Blackbird X10 through it’s paces, flying at dawn to capture an architectural exterior in New Jersey, then it was off to participate in a Fly-in with the New York City Drone User Group, followed by dusk shooting in Staten Island.

As much fun as one can have at 6:15a on a cold December Sunday morning!


Innovative Business Design Awards

Fast Company Magazine and their client/sponsor Sauza 901 Tequila, contracted me to design, build, and fly 2 multirotor serving trays for a media event last month.

The cocktail party was the final event of a day long awards ceremony heralding the best in business design for the prior year.

here’s a link to the landing

and my besty, Justin Timberlake, tweeting about it.