Drones show at CES
Interest in drones has been at an all-time high and the results could be seen at CES this year as several manufacturers revealed drones for every possible purpose. On a dusty stretch of Nevada desert, a quadcopter drone kicks up a small cloud as it takes off. It then trails its operator on a drive across the flat terrain, filming the motion from a short distance above. The AirDog drone was designed to capture the intensity of extreme sports that have been difficult to access ­ surfing, skiing, off-road biking and similar activities. “We felt we could change the way video is captured in action sports,” said Agris Kipurs, co-founder or AirDog, created by a group of Latvian engineers, which is starting beta-testing on its products later this year.

A woman holds up an Exom senseFly drone at the Parrot booth


Developer Christoph Kohstall shows the Nixie wearable drone camera powered by Intel's Edison kit during a keynote address by Intel Corp at the 2015 International CES (Source:CES)

AirDog, one of dozens of drones being shown at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) this week in Las Vegas, is aiming for “an unassisted experience, so all you need is the tracking device on your wrist,” Kipurs said during a demonstration outside Las Vegas. Drones are showing up in a variety of shapes and sizes at the huge electronics fair, which has for the first time a space dedicated to unmanned systems.

More than a dozen companies are displaying the flying devices, for uses ranging from remote-controlled toys to professional filmmaking to industrial and agricultural applications. The Hexo+ drone from FrancoAmerican Squadrone System is another drone that can be pre-programmed to follow and film a person or object from any angle using a phone.

In a similar category, the show got a look at the Nixie drone, a flying camera which launches from one's wrist and won a competition last year sponsored by Intel for wearable technology. “We think drones have a possibility to change our lives in positive ways,“ said Intel chief executive Brian Krzanich at a CES keynote speech where he demonstrated Intel-powered drones from Ascending Technologies that navigated obstacles on stage.

South Korean-based Byrobot is showing its “drone fighter,“ which enables its users to simulate aerial combat with infrared signals to fire at enemy aircraft. When one of the drones is hit, its lights flash and hand controller vibrates, signalling it is downed, according to the company, which offers an optional camera with the device. The Zano drone, a so-called nanodrone designed for aerial photography and selfies, weighs in at just 55 grams, said Thomas Dietrich, design director for the British-based Torquing Group.

“We've squeezed a lot of technology into a very small package,” Dietrich said. “It's a smart device. It's all gesture based and it has obstacle avoidance. The past year was very good” for drone sales, said Parrot marketing director Nicolas Halftermeyer. Parrot recently introduced its Bebop drone for the consumer segment, which can take high-definition video and be controlled from a tablet. “This part of the business is growing very fast,” he said. The Consumer Electronics Association, which organizes the show, said the market for these devices is hitting new heights as the technology previously used for military aircraft is adapted for consumer and industrial activities. 

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