Here Are The Winners Of Dronestagram’s 5th Annual International Drone Photography Contest

Here Are The Winners Of Dronestagram’s 5th Annual International Drone Photography Contest

Aerial photography social media platform Dronestagram has today announced the winners of its fifth annual Drone Photography Contest.

Previously the competition has been split into multiple categories, but this time around the organizers decided to simplify the process and award a simple 1st, 2nd and 3rd ranking to the best three entries.

The images are once again a testament to the creativity that drones enable and the passion and skill of aerial photographers around the world.

Despite the regulations and constraints that increasingly weigh on recreational drones, creativity has not been curtailed and the unique worldview allowed by drones continues to make us dream.” – Eric Dupin, founder of Dronestagram.

Here are the winners.

1st Place

The winner of Dronestagram’s International Drone Photography Contest was HUNGRY HIPPOS by zekedrone. You can view the author’s profile here. 

hungry hippos drone shot

2nd Place

The runner-up was this magnificent shot, FISHING NET IN VIETNAM by Trung Pham. See the author’s profile here.

2ndin dronestagram photography contest 2019

3rd place

3rd place went to 2 PEOPLE, 2 DOGS & 4 SHADOWS by qliebin. You can see the author’s profile here.

third place in dronestagram contest

Thoughts from the Dronestagram founder

2018 didn’t end well for the drone industry, with plenty of coverage for all the wrong reasons following the fiasco at Gatwick airport in London. However, it’s nice to be able to give some publicity to Dronestagram’s community, which relentlessly shows the positive potential of drone technology.

”This year we decided to simplify the rules of the contest in order to give the greatest freedom to our community of drone photography enthusiasts. We were not disappointed with the result: thousands of amazing pictures among which it was extremely difficult to make a choice,”  said Eric Dupin, the founder of Dronestagram.

“Despite the regulations and constraints that increasingly weigh on recreational drones, creativity has not been curtailed and the unique worldview allowed by drones continues to make us dream. A big thank you to all the participants, we look forward to the next edition!”

Malek Murison is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for tech trends and innovation. He handles product reviews, major releases and keeps an eye on the enthusiast market for DroneLife.
Email Malek
Twitter:@malekmurison

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Has The Mota Group Quietly Shut Down? The Curse Of The Lily Drone Strikes Again

Has The Mota Group Quietly Shut Down? The Curse Of The Lily Drone Strikes Again

In October we published a brief investigation into goings on at the Mota Group, the company that purchased the marketing and branding rights to the original (and doomed) Lily Drone project.

As part of the Mota Group’s marketing efforts, the company used its newly acquired list of let down Lily backers to help fund and sell a new but limited version of the drone the original project had intended to take to market. The Mota Group was able to directly target the very people who had received refunds from the original Lily project and offer them discounts on the new drone.

It came to our attention that there were plenty of unhappy customers who felt mistreated by the Mota Group for a variety of reasons. The company website itself was also riddled with fake reviews and fishy marketing practices, while several buyers had problems with their shipments and felt let down once again.

As well as a discount, many backers of the original Lily project were offered share options ahead of the company’s purported IPO if they made a purchase.

The new drone did hit the market and get out to customers. But the San Jose company was later found to have overstated revenue for 2016, before agreeing to a settlement with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and withdrawing its IPO registration statement.

Read more: Fake Reviews and Lily Next-Gen No-Shows: Is the Mota Group Letting Customers Down?

To this day, DroneLife is still getting messages from disgruntled Mota Group customers.

So what’s the latest? Well, it looks like big (and bad) news.

Has the Mota Group Shut Down?

A quick browse of the Mota Group’s social media channels and the official Lily Camera’s social media pages show that all have been untouched since before the turn of the year.

The Mota Group website is also blocked or disabled. As well as that, the official Lily Drone website (http://www.lily.camera), part of the branding package bought and run by the Mota Group, is also unavailable to access.

This would chime with reports we’ve been getting of annoyed Lily customers who are having their support tickets ignored completely, as well as stories that the customer phone number is no longer operational.

It would also suggest that the Lily Drone has struck again, once again leaving unlucky customers out of pocket and in search of answers.

We’ve attempted to contact members of staff at the Mota Group and are yet to receive any replies. It’s not looking good.

Malek Murison is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for tech trends and innovation. He handles product reviews, major releases and keeps an eye on the enthusiast market for DroneLife.
Email Malek
Twitter:@malekmurison

Subscribe to DroneLife here.

DJI Unveils Smart Controller With Built-In Monitor at CES 2019

DJI Unveils Smart Controller With Built-In Monitor at CES 2019

DJI has launched a new remote controller for its drones at CES 2019. The Smart Controller combines an ultra-bright display with all of the usual controls, in a move that the Chinese manufacturer will be hoping appeals to pilots who want to fly without having to bring along a phone or tablet.

DJI Smart controller for mavic 2
DJI Smart Controller: An Upgrade on CrystalSky?

The DJI Smart Controller is the latest product to join the company’s ecosystem of accessories.  The 5.5” screen is built into the controller itself, giving pilots one less thing to worry about having to carry around, potentially lose or need to attach before taking off.

The Smart Controller is compatible with DJI’s newest drones: The Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro. The Mavic 2 Enterprise series will be supported in future updates. The screen displays flight video in Full HD resolution.

The Smart Controller’s ultra-bright display offers an output of 1000 cd/m2, equivalent to twice the brightness of standard smartphones.

The controller comes pre-loaded with an Android dashboard that supports the DJI GO 4, and DJI Pilot applications. The DJI GO 4 app also has been revamped to include SkyTalk, a feature that allows pilots to livestream the drone’s camera feed to social channels including Facebook, Instagram and WeChat.

The Smart Controller also features a number of third-party apps to help with editing and data management.

The DJI Smart Controller offers 2.5 hours of battery life and the ability to operate in temperatures as cold as -4°Fahrenheit and as hot as 104°Fahrenheit.

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As we expected, DJI used their platform and the publicity around the annual CES event in Las Vegas to share the news.

“CES features the newest and smartest tech innovations from around the world, and that makes it the perfect place for DJI to launch our Smart Controller,” said Mario Rebello, Vice President & Country Manager, North America.

“The Smart Controller is DJI’s latest tool to allow anyone to capture incredible perspectives from the sky, and we are excited that CES attendees can experience it first-hand. We invite everyone at CES to try it at our booth, which features our latest innovations in the drone and imaging field and demonstrates how DJI has established itself as a global technology leader.”

DJI Smart Controller: Price and Availability

The new Smart Controller will be available for purchase beginning in early 2019 for $649 USD, slightly more than a 5.5″ CrystalSky monitor.

DJI has confirmed that combo packages that bundle the new Smart Controller with Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom will be available as well.

Malek Murison is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for tech trends and innovation. He handles product reviews, major releases and keeps an eye on the enthusiast market for DroneLife.
Email Malek
Twitter:@malekmurison

Subscribe to DroneLife here.

Apparent Drone Sighting Halts Departures at London Heathrow

Apparent Drone Sighting Halts Departures at London Heathrow

A matter of days after London Gatwick was shut for 36 hours following reports of drones flying above the airport, reported drone sightings have halted departures at Heathrow, London’s busiest airport.

The situation does not appear to be as serious as that which unfolded at Gatwick in late December. We understand that there was only an hour or so during which flights were delayed. It’s thought that around 40 flights were disrupted.

Read more: What Can We Learn From The Drone Disruption at Gatwick Airport?

According to a BBC report, the Metropolitan Police received reports of a drone sighting near Heathrow at about 17:05 GMT.

The BBC has reported that the broadcaster’s own cameraman, Martin Roberts, witnessed the drone in flight. He claims he was driving on the M25 – a highway that encircles the capital – and past Heathrow airport at about 17:45 GMT when he saw what he believes was a drone.

“I could see, I’d say around 300 feet up, very bright, stationary flashing red and green lights, over the Harmondsworth area,” he said.

“I could tell it was a drone – these things have got quite distinctive lights – not a helicopter. The lights were very close together. It was a very clear night and the object was stationary, it was turning very, very slightly. I could see it very clearly, I’d say for about four to five minutes.”

Take Drone ‘Sightings’ With A Pinch Of Salt

It’s understandable that there’s heightened awareness around any kind of light in the sky close to London airports. Following a chaotic few days at Gatwick in December, we can expect more incidents like this as the year goes on. Particularly as we don’t appear to be any closer to understanding what actually happened at Gatwick.

Let’s hope this latest incident is a false positive rather than something more sinister.

A spokeswoman for Heathrow Airport said: “We continue to work closely with the Met Police to respond to reports of drones at Heathrow.

“Based on standard operating procedures, working with Air Traffic Control and the Met Police, we have resumed departures out of Heathrow following a short suspension. We continue to monitor this situation and apologise to any passengers that were affected by this disruption.”

Malek Murison is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for tech trends and innovation. He handles product reviews, major releases and keeps an eye on the enthusiast market for DroneLife.
Email Malek
Twitter:@malekmurison

Subscribe to DroneLife here.

UK Government Releases Report on Drone Regulation Consultation, DJI Responds

UK Government Releases Report on Drone Regulation Consultation, DJI Responds

The UK Government has announced its intention to move forward with plans to extend existing regulations around drone use. The report, published in response to a consultation with various industry stakeholders in 2018, outlines new police powers to tackle drones misuse and more.

You can read the consultation report in full, here.

The main headlines from the report are as follows:

  • UK police are set to be given additional powers to land, seize and search drones
  • The UK government will work on expanded use of technology to detect and repel drones at sites such as airports and prisons
  • The exclusion zone around UK airports is to be extended
  • From November 2019, UK drone operators will be required by law to register and pass an online safety test

It’s important to emphasize that these proposals do not come as a result of what happened at Gatwick Aiport before Christmas. They are the result of a consultation process after the UK government made its initial proposals last year.

Unsurprisingly, the issue of drone legislation has been heavily politicized in the UK, with the Labour party in opposition using the fiasco at Gatwick to attack a Conservative government already under pressure and busy dealing with another fiasco. That is perhaps the reason that this report has been so heavily linked to what happened at Gatwick.

Read more: What Can We Learn From The Drone Disruption at Gatwick Airport?

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Read more: Apparent Drone Sighting Halts Departures at London Heathrow

A lack of input from commercial UK drone pilots?

There were 3,957 responses received via the consultation online survey, and a further 1,104 replies which were received by other means by the Department for Transport. The total number of responses was 5,061.

Of those who responded to the online survey, 3813 represented individuals and 144 represented organisations.

Of those individuals, 2310 used drones for leisure; 1947 were model aircraft flyers; 165 were general aviation pilots; 265 flew drones for commercial reasons and 187 classified themselves as “other”.

Of the organisations, 73 were businesses that use drones; 22 were membership or representative organisations; 12 were airports or airlines; 4 were drone manufacturers or vendors; 4 were research institutions or universities; 10 were local authorities or statutory bodies; 2 were businesses considering using drones and 17 were in other groups.

The fact that fewer than 300 commercial drone pilots took part is surprising to say the least, particularly as they stand to be most affected by any changes. Model aircraft pilots were able to mobilize and respond in force.

Liv Sugg, the UK’s Aviation Minister, said:

We received over 5000 responses, a substantial increase from our last consultation, indicating the increasing interest in this emerging technology.

Responses reflected a broad range of views and positions on drones, but a common feeling shared by respondents was that the communication and enforcement of regulations to guarantee safety is of paramount importance. The Government shares this view and continues to work with the CAA to build on the ‘Drone safe’ campaign particularly in the run up to registration and competency testing becoming legal requirements in November
2019.

The vast majority of drone users fly safely and responsibly, and adhere to the rules and regulations that are in place. However, if a drone is used illegally we must ensure that the police have the powers to enforce the law, and that the most up to date technology is available to detect, track and potentially disrupt the drone.

The new measures proposed in the consultation, such as giving the police the power to request evidence from drone users where there is reasonable suspicion of an offence being committed, were met with strong support from respondents. These new powers will also include giving the police the option to issue fixed penalty notices for minor drone offences, to ensure effective enforcement and an immediate deterrent to those who may misuse drones or attempt to break the law.

The Government is finalising a Draft Drones Bill which will give the police these powers and we intend to bring this Bill forward in 2019.

DJI Responds to UK Government’s New Measures

Given the infamy now associated with drone technology in the wake of whatever the hell happened at Gatwick and the media response, you might expect that usually-vocal industry stakeholders would be eager to point to the possibility that there may never have been a drone disrupting London’s second airport.

However, comment of that sort hasn’t been forthcoming. There are a few reasons why that might be. First of all, it’s not a good look for a PR team to publicly go against conclusions drawn by police and airport security, particularly over an incident that’s made international headlines.

What is disappointing is that a middle ground wasn’t found. There is certainly room for doubt in scenarios like Gatwick and, just yesterday, Heathrow. Particularly given past confusion: plastic bags, bats and everything but have been mistaken for drones in recent times.

Instead of wading into those admittedly murky waters, DJI welcomed the UK Department for Transport’s new regulatory measures.

“The amendments to the Air Navigation Order strike a sensible balance between protecting critical infrastructure such as airports and allowing British businesses and the public at large to enjoy the benefits of drone technology,” said a company statement.

The new rules thoughtfully reflect input on the government’s prior proposals that were provided by many stakeholders, including DJI.

The vast majority of drone pilots fly safely and responsibly, and isolated drone incidents, such as the one at Gatwick, must not be the basis for unnecessarily restricting the legitimate use of this emerging technology. – DJI

“We are pleased to see that the new rectangular restriction zones around airport runway approach paths address the risk at airports in a way similar to the latest version of DJI’s geofencing technology,” said Christian Struwe, Head of Policy at DJI EMEA. “This will provide smarter protection for airplanes in critical areas during takeoff and landing and is in line with established aviation practices.”

DJI also responded positively to the UK government’s decision not go forward with previously proposed age restrictions on remote pilots.

“As an advocate of education in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) fields, DJI appreciates that the UK government does not propose an age restriction for pilots of unmanned aircraft as it supports young people’s early use of technology that can build vital skills for later life,” said DJI.

Malek Murison is a freelance writer and editor with a passion for tech trends and innovation. He handles product reviews, major releases and keeps an eye on the enthusiast market for DroneLife.
Email Malek
Twitter:@malekmurison

Subscribe to DroneLife here.