Elevation.2 – Tracking how civilian drones are taking to the skies

Latest posts

The 7% solution that will save us from boring drone videos

Aerial video is an exhilarating opportunity. With video cameras mounted on drones, many of us can now capture footage from angles that would previously have required a helicopter or a dolly-mounted jib, and perhaps a film crew. How come then that most drone videos are so boring? Sure, we all started out newbies. If you fly a drone with a video camera on it, you have probably shared something like this of which there are ubiquitous examples on YouTube:
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A saunter through Amazon’s Drone Store

Earlier this week, Amazon, the online retailer, launched a “Drone Store“. It is another example of how drones are becoming mainstream consumer devices. The Amazon Drone Store features DJI and Parrot prominently on the main store page. The DJI section offers links to the four Phantom models (see my comparison of the DJI Phantoms). The Parrot section features the Parrot AR.Drone 2.0 Elite Edition as well as “Rolling Spider” and &
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Amateur 3D mapping by drone

Before my GoPro camera arrived, I did a little experiment with my Y6 hexacopter from 3D Robotics: I repurposed a pocket camera for aerial images, set the drone to fly in a survey pattern over a limited area and processed the resulting photos using a free cloud app. As a result, I was able to produce a partial 3D rendering of the area I surveyed. The camera The Canon S90 is a fabulous camera, and Canon has kept improving it in successive updates. The p
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The civilian drone inflection point is near

People almost always come over and chat when I fly one of my hobby drones. It used to be that I had to explain what the thing was up in the sky and the reaction was almost always oohs and aahs that technology has come that far. That was half a year ago. This past weekend I was in a parkland area with almost no people around. The only two people in the general area both stopped by to chat; but this time the conversation had changed. Instead of asking w
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Travel with your cameradrone, shoot a film

London-based filmmaker Philip Bloom recently published a dreamy, captivating five minute film shot on the Thai island of Koh Yao Noi. He then wrote a piece about every aspect of the production: Packing for the trip, gear details, engaging the local kids, safe flying, post production. There is a lot to learn from his account for budding aerial videographers like myself. I have highlighted some of the learning points below but read the article for the f
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An introduction to precision agriculture

When reading about civilian use of drones, it is only a matter of time before one is confronted with heaps of references to precision agriculture. Chris Anderson, co-founder of 3D Robotics, says drones play a big part in the future of farming where the focus is on reducing inputs while improving yields. Precision agriculture has been around roughly since the military encryption was removed from GPS satellite signals, providing free access to location
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Something to avoid: Crashing an expensive drone and getting in trouble with the authorities

A DJI S1000 octocopter $4,000 A DJI Zenmuse Z15 gimbal $3,000 A Canon 6D body $1,700 A GoPro $300 Canon lens $? A 6-cell battery pack $400 This appears to be the equipment damaged in a crash on Friday 9 May in Nice, France. The multi-rotor copter crashed on a beach then burst into flames, according to beachgoers interviewed by Nice Matin, a regional newspaper. Luckily the beach was sparsely populated at the time and no-one was hurt. Not only was the e
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3D Robotics limits exports in an ‘abundance of caution’

3D Robotics, a drone manufacturing company based in California and Mexico, is sending emails to its international customers that they won’t be fulfilling orders outside of the US and Canada. Vu Tran, Director of Support, posted to a thread in the 3D Robotics forum on Tuesday: “We appreciate your patience while we work through some complex export control issues that affect the US flight controller industry. We have reduced our international
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An in-app reminder of geopolitics

Utter the word ‘drone’ and some may immediately think of geopolitics and extrajudicial reach. There are other ways the two topics are connected. The smartphone app that comes with a DJI Phantom has a nifty feature that allows you to see a map of where you have flown and the images your quadcopter drone has captured. When you use the feature, however, the map will remind you that DJI is a Hong Kong based company: The choice of mapping servi
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