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

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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

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State Farm Granted First National FAA Waiver for Damage Assessment Drone Flights

State Farm Granted First National FAA Waiver for Damage Assessment Drone Flights

American insurance giant State Farm is flying into uncharted skies today after the company received the first-ever national drone-flight waiver granted to a corporation by the FAA.

The waiver will allow State Farm to fly drones over people and beyond visual line of sight through November 2022.

Last year, the FAA granted a similar – albeit temporary – waiver to deploy UAS in four states affected by Hurricane Florence, allowing the company to assess damage and provide faster claims processing for victims of the storm.

“It’s been a team effort to make drone technology a reality,” says Senior Vice President for Property and Casualty Claims Robert Yi. “The waiver will provide our claims specialists with another way to efficiently help customers. We can use drones to assess on-the-ground damage and deploy resources. This is a huge win for our customers and demonstrates we’re recognized as a leader in drone technology.”

State Farm launched its drone program two years ago, collaborating with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership at Virginia Tech on drone safety research.

“There are many possibilities for the use of drones, but FAA regulators need to be assured that operations can be conducted safely” said Partnership director Mark Blanks.

“State Farm had a compelling proposal for how drones could improve their customer experience and an unwavering commitment to safety. MAAP had the operational expertise and the research experience to help them navigate the approval process and collect supporting data. This success shows how powerful it can be when industry and academia collaborate to break new ground.”

Seeing a potential competitive edge, insurers worldwide have upped investment in drone technology:

  • New Jersey-based Everest Insurance has partnered with drone-analytics provider Airware, allowing the insurer to optimize and expedite claims during hurricane season via aerial data investigation.
  • In 2016, insurance giants Allstate and Travelers deployed several drones over parts of South Carolina and Georgia in the wake of Hurricane Matthew to assess damage, expediting claims for stricken policyholders more rapidly. Allstate’s quadcopters can capture 4K-resolution images and the company says this allows adjusters to zoom in for extreme detail on any individual shingle on a roof or a crack in a building. Travelers launched a UAV training program and deployed 60 FAA-certified adjusters to pilot drones that year alone.

Jason is a longstanding contributor to DroneLife with an avid interest in all things tech. He focuses on anti-drone technologies and the public safety sector; police, fire, and search and rescue.

Beginning his career as a journalist in 1996, Jason has since written and edited thousands of engaging news articles, blog posts, press releases and online content.

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TWITTER:@JasonPReagan

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Indemnis Parachute For DJI Drones Meets International Safety Standard

Indemnis Parachute For DJI Drones Meets International Safety Standard

Back in 2017, Alaska-based Indemnis partnered with DJI to develop parachute standards and systems that could be deployed in an instant, protecting valuable multi-rotor cargo and, of course, whoever or whatever is unlucky enough to be directly underneath should an issue occur.

Today, Indemnis and DJI have announced that the Nexus parachute system for the Inspire 2 drone has been validated as compliant with the new international standard for drone parachutes. The announcement follows a strenuous testing procedure at the New York UAS Test Site in Rome, N.Y. managed by NUAIR

On December 22, 2018 Indemnis successfully passed the ASTM F3322-18 standard testing matrix. The technical standard is designed to enable safe flight operations over people on small unmanned aerial vehicles while using a parachute as a risk mitigation device. The Nexus is the first and only parachute recovery system in the world to become certified and compliant in meeting the requirements of the standard.

The standard specification is made up of 45 functionality tests across 5 different failure scenarios. Each is designed to validate the system’s deployment and canopy inflation within the full flight envelope of the aircraft.

indemnis parachute system

Indemnis opens door to new possibilities for commercial operations

The work of DJI and Indemnis is arguably geared toward proving that drones can safely operate above people and sensitive locations.

A reliable, validated parachute technology like the Nexus, which initiates when flight anomalies are detected, could well become a necessary component of future waivers granted by the FAA. 

A statement from DJI says, “The Indemnis system is intended to be the core of a parachute-based safety mitigation plan for a waiver, and can also help provide one path forward for advanced operations as the FAA considers how to allow routine flights directly over people.”

“DJI is pleased to have contributed to the development of technologies and standards that will be used to support advanced, higher-risk operations,” said Brendan Schulman, DJI Vice President of Policy & Legal Affairs. “As the FAA works to open more of America’s skies to beneficial drone uses, the certification of the Nexus system on DJI’s platform is a significant step toward making flight over people and crowds routine, expanding the scope of vital applications such as search and rescue, newsgathering, and public safety.”

Read more: The UAS Integration Pilot Program is Underway: North Dakota Gets Started with Parazero Parachutes for Drones

“Indemnis has tested our parachute systems in thousands of real-world unplanned failure scenarios, and NUAIR’s validation of our work is an exciting step toward making professional drone operations over people safe, routine and productive,” said Amber McDonald, Indemnis President/CEO. “DJI’s drone platforms are the clear choice of professionals, and our turnkey packages make it easy for DJI customers to propose advanced, higher-risk operations to regulators around the world.”

Read more: Drone Parachutes Provide the Confidence Regulators Need: ParaZero Working With Multiple IPP Teams

How Nexus works

Nexus is a ballistic parachute launcher. It’s designed to trigger automatically if the drone begins to abnormally tilt or fall, as would happen in the case of a loss of power or malfunction. The Nexus system deploys the parachute within 30 milliseconds at 90 mph, through a tube that rapidly inflates to keep the parachute lines away from the drone body and propellers.

Although the system is currently designed to work with the DJI Inspire 2, Indemnis has confirmed plans to offer it for Matrice 200 series and Matrice 600 series drones by late 2019.

NUAIR Alliance, which manages one of the FAA-designated test sites for drone technologies at Griffiss International Airport in Rome, New York, put the Indemnis Nexus through 45 functionality tests across five different failure scenarios last month during four days of testing. DJI, Indemnis, the FAA and other industry stakeholders finalized the ASTM consensus standard late last year.

“The NUAIR Alliance is proud to have been a part of helping Indemnis’ transformative technology enter real-world deployment into the National Airspace System on a leading DJI drone platform,” said retired Air Force Major General Marke “Hoot” Gibson, President and CEO of NUAIR Alliance.

“New York is committed to generating growth, jobs and innovation through smart drone investments, and Indemnis’ successful testing process shows how New York plays a key role in accelerating this exciting technology.”

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.