Last week we attended InterDrone, and quite frankly, it was awesome. We had a great time at our booth, but also thoroughly enjoyed just chatting with a bunch of other people who love drones as much as we do.
We explored both the Hangar (startup area) and the main exhibition hall for all the coolest companies, and in no particular order, we came up with Flystro’s list of the 10 coolest companies at InterDrone.
While the big two names in drone manufacturing – DJI and 3DR – were also present, we were impressed with the offerings from Yuneec. They have comparable models for most of the lines of both DJI and 3DR, and often at more affordable prices. Their Phantom/Solo comparable, the Q500, is now available with a 4K model, and they offer a package that includes an aluminum case and 2 batteries for $1300USD. You also get a hand grip to which you can attach the gimbal and camera, and get a live view on your smart phone, allowing you to get stabilized footage from the ground.
The comparable Phantom 3 Professional with an extra battery and hardshell backpack comes in at $1519 USD, and that doesn’t include the hand grip.
Their professional model line, the Tornado series, was also on display, and showed impressive finish (carbon shell anyone?).
If you’re looking for a slightly more affordable alternative to DJI and 3DR, definitely check out Yuneec.
As their tagline states, “Botlink is a cloud-connected platform that lets you operate your drones simply, safely and securely.”
To date, many commercial drone manufacturers have built their own applications for flying your drone. Tower is used extensively with Pixhawk systems, and DJI has been building their own software. But it’s not hard to imagine why having a cloud-based platform to manage all your UAVs would be useful.
Botlink’s system is incorporating manned and unmanned flight tracks, allowing aircraft avoidance, and includes features to address regulation compliance, aircraft and pilot flight logs, photo stitching and cloud data storage. As regulations become more clear, there is no doubt that systems like Botlink will become invaluable.
If services like Botlink don’t quite fit your needs, there’s Altitude Angel. They’re building an API which supports any vendor or drone with route-planning services, hazard and collision avoidance, airspace management and en-route flight information.
Individuals and companies can use their API to build additional functionalities into their own ground-station apps, flight management systems and more.
No doubt as drones become more ubiquitous, their API will be important for many operators and companies.
If you haven’t heard of Precision Hawk yet, you probably should have. They deal with everything from their Lancaster fixed-wing UAV platform used for data capture, to their DataMapper platform, which is a cloud-based system designed to manage the aerial data you capture, to their TerraServer division, on which you can purchase “billions of satellite images & aerial photos”.
Basically, if you want to capture visual, multispectral, thermal, LiDAR or hyperspectral data at the enterprise level, PrecisionHawk will take care of everything from flight planning to fully processed data. Check them out.
Zeiss – VR One
This is more of a product than a company, but the VR One is a virtual-reality headset that uses your mobile phone. While certainly not the cheapest (see Google Cardboard), it is backed by the Zeiss name, and bills itself as being superior because of the Zeiss optical design and “precision optics”.
At $129 USD, it’s probably worth a shot to get a gorgeous, immersive first-person view from your drone. And then you can go watch some 360 degree YouTube videos once you’re done.
While EMAX is more of a retailer, they specialize in FPV racers, a rapidly growing category of UAVs. Their Nighthawk Pro ready-to-fly FPV racer sells for $258 USD, and they sell all the spare parts you’ll need when you crash it for the first time.
If you’re interested in getting into FPV racing, check out MultiGP, which is a competitive racing league with chapters all over the USA.
Altus Unmanned Aerial Solutions & UAV Solutions
These companies provide a wide range of services and awesome UAVs, and they are obviously deep in the enterprise-level drone industry.
Altus focuses on multi-rotors, and the top of their line is the Delta LRX, a truly massive multi-rotor that has an impressive claimed flight time of 30-35 minutes, and wind resistance of over 30 knots. They also offer UAV services, including everything from aerial filming to specialized forestry and agriculture data capture.
UAV Solutions focuses on building UAVs, and offers an even wider range of aircraft, including fixed-wing and heavy-lift multi-rotors. They also offer custom solutions, so your imagination is the limit.
Both companies are worth checking out if you’re interested in what is possible for both multi-rotors and fixed-wing UAVs.
While there are many options for post-processing of aerial photo and video capture, the segment is certainly still growing. Enter PixProcessing; they offer a desktop software application that performs 3D structure reconstruction from aerial and handheld imagery.
The uses for such technology range from mining, agriculture, and forestry to architecture and insurance investigations.
Next time you’re looking for alternatives to Pix4D, check them out.
The only company included here from the startup area – The Hangar – is a company born from the University of Nevada.
Their system connects drones via Android phones or Linux computers carried on board a drone to the internet through cell phone networks. With their technology, the controller can operate the drone through any web browser, mobile or desktop computer, with the end goal of creating custom flight plans that aren’t limited by controller range, and include integration with the national Unmanned Traffic Management system currently being developed.
While the technology to allow fully autonomous, navigating delivery UAVs isn’t here yet, this company is definitely one to watch as it develops.
Flir – Vue
Flir has long provided leading products in the thermal imaging market, and their latest development, specifically for Commercial sUAS use, promises to be no different.
The Vue is a small, affordable (relatively) thermal imager designed to be compact and light for use on Commercial UAVs. The two models available for purchase are $1499 and $2999 USD.
Thermal imaging on a UAV is about as cool as it gets.
We had a tough time picking just ten (well, eleven) companies. Let us know if you have any comments, or think others at InterDrone should have made the list!