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The World’s Smallest microLiDAR Could Give Drones the Eyes They Need to See Obstacles

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USA based LightWare LiDAR has announced the world’s smallest, lightest microLiDAR: the new SF45.  Lightware says that the SF45 microLiDAR could provide drones with the “eyes” they need to see obstacles and navigate safely beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS.) LightWare LiDAR “is taking autonomous machines to a whole new level by making them as invincible […]

The post The World’s Smallest microLiDAR Could Give Drones the Eyes They Need to See Obstacles appeared first on DRONELIFE.

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AgEagle CEO on the Biggest Challenges for the Drone Industry Right Now

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New BVLOS rules, autonomous flights at scale among industry’s biggest challenges, says new AgEagle CEO and industry veteran Brandon Torres Declet in this DRONELIFE exclusive interview. By Jim Magill Members from all segments of the drone industry should work together in concert with regulators to help craft rules to usher in the next phase of […]

The post AgEagle CEO on the Biggest Challenges for the Drone Industry Right Now appeared first on DRONELIFE.

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Best RC Boats Reviews of 2021

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Updated: June 7, 2021 RC boats are becoming one of the most popular categories of remote control vehicle. From serious professional racers to hobbyists, everyone with access to water can enjoy a radio controlled boat for sale. The gear available today is nothing like the old-fashioned versions that you saw at amusement parks during yesteryear, …

The post Best RC Boats Reviews of 2021 appeared first on Dronethusiast.

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Best cheap drone 2021: avoid sky-high prices with these top beginners’ drones

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Best cheap drone 2021: avoid sky-high prices with these top beginners’ drones

We rank the best budget drones UK, ideal for beginners and children

best cheap drone: Potensic A20
(Image credit: Potensic)

Thanks to tech innovation from the bigger drone brands, today’s best cheap drones  are better than ever before. These days, ‘affordable’ doesn’t have to mean a tiny, out of control drone that shoots across the room then explodes against a wall. Cheap drones are now more user-friendly than ever, and pack features like decent camera stabilisation, GPS locking, intelligent flight control and even 4K shooting.

If you want something more advanced and have cash to splash, head to our general best drones guide. Equally, if you want something super-basic, our best kids drone guide will sort you out. If not, all of the quadcopters featured in our best budget drones  guide present a great way to learn essential flight skills and control, and for exploring how to capture great aerial videos and stills, before progressing onto a larger drone with more advanced features.

Whether you’re just starting out or are looking to improve your skills before upgrading to a bigger and better model, rest assured there’s an affordable drone for you. Top brands you can expect to see cropping up time and again in this category include Ryze, Holy Stone, Syma, Eachine and Hubsan.

Before you take to the skies, there are a few bits of housekeeping you’ll need to take care of. Head to our drone regulations explainer or the CAA website for more info, and pay heed to these drone safety guidelines before you take to the skies.

How to choose the best budget drone for you

Budget drones cost a fraction of the big players from the likes of DJI and Parrot, but what do these reduced prices buy you? Up to £50, you’ll find limited features, a basic build and basic flight control. This means somewhat tricky flight without stabilisation.

Step up to the £50-£100 price bracket and features take a decent leap in quality. These drones may lack a controller, instead favouring the use of a mobile app, and the camera won’t produce the most cinematic footage you’ve seen, but flight features should be spot on.

Hit the £100-200 mark and you’ll get access to a higher resolution camera and a dedicated controllers to help you properly get to grips with essential piloting skills. The motors may also have a little more grunt and be better tuned for outdoor flight.

You’ll find more guidance if our article on what to look for in a toy drone. Ready to find the best cheap drone for your skill level and budget? These are our current top picks to get you flying today…

The best cheap drones to buy right now

best budget drone: Ryze Tello

(Image credit: Ryze)

1. Ryze Tello

The best cheap drone overall, thanks to flight tech by DJI

Specifications
Best for: Learning the ropes
Type: Mini drone/education
Weight: 80g
Reasons to buy
+Flight technology designed by DJI+Programmable+Lightweight

There are no drones in this price bracket that come anywhere near the specifications and flexibility of the Tello. Designed by Ryze and featuring flight technology from DJI, the comparisons with the larger craft are instantly apparent. If you own a DJI Mavic and are looking for a training drone, then look no further. The Tello is also fully programmable, so you can code in Scratch and then upload your own modes and flight characteristics, making it an ideal educational tool. The level of coding is aimed at teaching kids, but there’s plenty here for everyone, whatever the age, flight skill or coding ability.

For two years running, this quality quadcopter has picked up the T3 Award for Best Budget Drone. Head to our Ryze Tello review for more info, or see how it matches up against a similarly priced competitor in our Ryze Tello vs Potensic Elfin faceoff.

Best cheap drones for beginners: Holy Stone HS100 GPS FPV

2. Holy Stone HS100 GPS FPV

The best cheap drone for aerial photography beginners

Specifications
Best for: Filming in HD
Type: Camera drone
Weight: 700g
Reasons to buy
+1080p HD camera+15-minutes flight time+500-metre range

Designed to introduce aerial photography novices to the world of cinematic drone photography, at the front of the Holy Stone HS100 GPS FPV is an optimised 1080p Wi-Fi camera with 120-degree field of view and 90-degree adjustable angle, ensuring you can capture quality footage or stills and experiment with shots from multiple perspectives. The drone is also suitable for use with VR or first-person view goggles. Follow Me mode is on-hand to further boost the dynamic of your shots, enabling the drone to automatically follow a subject and keep it in the frame at all times – ideal for epic selfies or shooting fast-moving activity.

The Holy Stone HS100 also comes equipped with GPS precise positioning, ensuring smooth flight and the ability to return to the take-off point at the touch of a button, or as a safety measure if the battery or signal drops. Headless Mode and Altitude Hold take the stress out of flying so pilots can focus on getting their shots in the bag.

best cheap drone: Potensic Elfin

(Image credit: Potensic)

3. Potensic Elfin drone

A well-made and robust little drone that’s easy to fly

Specifications
Best for: Easy control
Type: Camera drone
Weight: 95g
Reasons to buy
+Rapid, responsive flier+Easy to control and good hovering+Decent battery life
Reasons to avoid
Very average cameraCan’t be flown in wind

The Potensic Elfin is a robust camera drone aimed at beginners. Potensic’s most advanced toy drone, it proves to be a rapid, responsive and highly manoeuvrable flier. We were impressed with how easy it is to fly, although you’ll only want to take it outside on very calm days – like many sub-250g budget drones, the Elfin does not like wind. If you attempt to fly it beyond its maximum range of 50m, it’ll attempt to land itself automatically, and there’s a ‘headless’ mode in which the drone will automatically align itself with the pilot’s position, no matter which way it is facing, and respond to control inputs accordingly. There are a few fun features to explore too: you can plot a course on your phone’s touchscreen for the Elfin to follow, and it will take a photo when you throw up a peace sign with your hand, or start video recording when you wave at its camera.

Where this drone falls short is in its photo and video quality. Although it’s in line with many budget drones, here the Elfin is clearly outshone by the similarly-priced Ryze Tello, with its in-built video stabilisation software. Head to our Potensic Elfin drone review for more info, or see how it matches up against a cheaper competitor in our Potensic Elfin vs Eachine E58 Pro showdown.

Best cheap drones for beginners: Potensic A20 Mini Drone

(Image credit: Potensic)

4. Potensic A20 Mini Drone

This budget option is a brilliant choice for kids

Specifications
Best for: Learning the ropes
Type: Toy
Weight: 191g
Reasons to buy
+Very easy to fly+From one of the world’s best drone manufacturers
Reasons to avoid
No photography or video capabilitiesToo lightweight to fly outside

The Potensic A20 is a great option for kids keen to try out their drone skills for the first time. As a beginner’s drone, it does what it says on the tin, with all the features you’d expect: well-protected propellers for those inevitable bumps and scrapes, an emergency stop button for those times when your little darlings fly a little too close to the dog/oven/baby and an un-ignorable low power alarm. It’s a breeze to fly, too – one-touch take off and landing controls allow kids to grasp the basics of drone flying in record time. It comes with two extra rechargeable batteries, which is good because you’ll only get around nine minutes of airtime on one charge (it’s advertised as 10-13 minutes). The main limitation is that while the A20 is robust enough to handle a few minor collisions without falling out of the sky, it’s really too lightweight to handle being flown outdoors. Head to our Potensic A20 mini drone review for more info.

Best cheap drones for beginners: Parrot Swing Quadcopter and Plane Minidrone

5. Parrot Swing Quadcopter and Plane Minidrone

Pull off barrel rolls and vertical loops with this dinky stunt drone

Specifications
Best for: Aerial maneuvers
Type: Stunt drone
Weight: 1,500g
Reasons to buy
+Easy-to-use controller+Looks super-cool

Though it’s no longer officially sold by Parrot, the Swing Quadcopter and Plane Minidrone proves eternally popular with beginners and younger drone pilots. It also means you can often find it on sale for a criminally low price. One of the coolest picks in our best cheap drones for beginner’s round-up, the Parrot Swing looks a little like something out of the Star Wars franchise, and is just as thrilling in the air. This dinky drone is made for performing aerial stunts, and loves nothing more than pulling off vertical loops, half loops and barrel rolls. It’s also capable of vertical take-off and landing.

Controlling this beginner’s drone is made easier thanks to the inclusion of a Parrot Flypad, which also extends the drone’s flight range up to 196ft. However, remember that you must keep the drone in sight at all times to fly in accordance with UK regulations. As for the top speed, the Parrot Swing Quadcopter and Plane Minidrone can reach up to 18.6mph in good weather. Basically, if you want a fun cheap drone for blasting around open fields and pulling off crazy aerial stunts, this little Parrot is a no-brainer.

Best cheap drones for beginners: Potensic D85

(Image credit: Potensic)

6. Potensic D85

An ideal camera drone for getting started with FPV

Specifications
Best for: Filming in HD
Type: Camera drone
Weight: 600g
Reasons to buy
+20-minute flight time+Dual GPS sensors+Comprehensive flight modes

The D85 drone is well-suited to those wanting to take some confident first steps in flying FPV (first-person view), or flying at speed. It’s easy to get started with and offers plenty of features for the low price. There are various flight modes, including Point of Interest, Return to Home and Follow Me. A futurist design instantly makes the Potensic D85 stand out among many of the others featured in our best cheap drones list. Featuring full dual GPS, this drone is ultra-easy to use and has an average flight time of 20 minutes per battery charge. An upgradable camera option enables you to swap the 1080p camera for your own GoPro, making the D85 a solid option for anyone looking to get some high-quality aerial footage from their action camera.

If it’s FPV flying you’re interested in the new DJI FPV drone is designed to be easy to fly for anyone (although it certainly can’t be considered a ‘cheap’ drone).

Best cheap drones for beginners: Syma X8 Pro

7. Syma X8 Pro

The best cheap drone for mastering aerial photography skills

Specifications
Best for: Exploring aerial photography
Type: Camera drone
Weight: 1.7kg
Reasons to buy
+Multiple shooting modes+720p HD camera+Novice mode for nervous flyers

The X8 Pro is a great cheap drone for learning the aerial photography ropes. As such, stability in the air is key. Thanks to built-in GPS, the drone is capable of holding its position, even if the wind picks up. The on-board 720p HD camera, complete with adjustable angle, is more than capable of producing quality footage and stills in the right conditions. A live feed from the camera is beamed straight to your smartphone to ensure you get your framing right.

Budding Spielbergs have a range of automatic video modes at their fingertips: ‘Orbiting’ flies the drone around the person holding the controller; ‘Follow Me’ tracks the subject and keeps them in shot wherever they move; and ‘Flight Plan’ enables pilots to tap any point on the map within the Syma Fly app and the drone will automatically fly to that position. If you’re a nervous flyer, the Syma X8 Pro offer two modes which limit the flying range of the drone. Novice Mode in particular is ideal, restricting the flight radius to 30-metres from the take-off point. As your confidence grows that can be bumped up to around 70-metres.

best cheap drone: Eachine E58 Pro

(Image credit: Rich Owen)

8. Eachine E58 Pro

This budget drone packs lots of features for the price

Specifications
Best for: Feature-packed
Type: Camera drone
Weight: 249g
Reasons to buy
+Lots of features+1080p camera
Reasons to avoid
Short battery lifeShaky video footage

The Eachine E58 Pro makes it into our best cheap drone roundup based on the features and extras you get for your cash. The lightweight, plastic body is more robust that it first appears, and it’s a speedy flier, even on it’s slowest propellor setting. You can plot a route on your phone for the E58 Pro to follow, and there’s a ‘headless’ mode in which the drone will respond in the direction of the inputs from the controller – regardless of its orientation. It also packs a 1080P camera (our #1 rated Ryze Tello only has 720p), and the image depth and colour saturation on video is pretty good, although the lack of camera stabilisation means footage is jerky.

On the down-side, it’s one of the harder beginners’ drones to fly, and battery life is on the short side – you’ll get around seven minutes of flight time per battery. Like most drones in this list, it doesn’t cope at all well with wind, and in fact has a tendency to drift even when flying indoors. Find out more in our full Eachine E58 Pro review, or see how it differs from our #1 cheap drone in our E58 Pro vs Ryze Tello drone comparison.

The best cheap drones for beginners: Hubsan H502S X4

9. Hubsan X4 H502S

The best cheap drone for GPS and stable flight

Specifications
Best for: Taking anywhere
Type: Outdoor flying/FPV
Weight: 155g
Reasons to buy
+Ultra-compact drone+GPS enables steadier flight

The original Husban X4 changed the microdrone market, and now several generations on the compact X4 H502S is still a formidable craft. It features full GPS which enables steady flight more akin to larger drones than one of this size. The GPS makes the X4 H502S incredibly easy to control outside. GPS also enables advanced features such as follow me where you can get the drone to track you autonomously. What makes this drone stand out for beginners is that it has an auto return to home feature, so if things do go astray or you lose control or sight of the craft then a quick push of the home button and the H502S will come back to its take-off spot.

Best cheap drones for beginners: Eachine E520S

(Image credit: Eachine)

10. Eachine E520S

Keenly-priced GPS-equipped travel drone with 4K camera

Specifications
Best for: Value
Type: GPS and 5G equipped
Weight: 780g
Reasons to buy
+GPS and 5G video streaming+Great price+Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
Hard to get hold of

This folding budget drone from Shenzhen, China is proof positive that you don’t need to spend a fortune on a drone with GPS, high-speed wifi technology and autonomous flight modes. The E520S looks like a mini version of the DJI Mavic while the hand controller (replete with a spring mount for an Android or iOS phone) is almost identical to that of the Mavic Air. Nevertheless, it’s a great low-cost, intermediate package for those on a learning curve towards a bona fide DJI model.

The E520S is about the size of a DJI Spark and comes equipped with GPS, 5G wifi streaming up to a distance of 250 metres and a USB-charged battery that lasts about 15 minutes. It also comes with a raft of automated features including return to home, auto take off and land, waypoint, follow-me and orbit. That’s pretty darn good for a drone for such a low.

Mind, the jury’s out on the quality of the front-mounted camera which supposedly shoots in 4K. Granted, the image quality isn’t terrible but it certainly isn’t up to the same level of 4K footage that the DJI and Parrot drones produce. Perhaps more importantly, the camera isn’t attached to a gimbal and that means any video you shoot will be quite jumpy and, well, unstable. You can, however, tilt the camera by hand before take off.

Despite being really noisy, the E520S flies amazingly well for a cheap drone – it’s stable in anything bar a stiff breeze and is great fun to fly. If you can’t afford to fork out on a DJI model or don’t wish to spend a load of dough on something that may eventually crash or end up in a tree, then put this one on the list.

Best cheap drones for beginners: Parrot Mambo

(Image credit: Parrot)

11. Parrot Mambo Fly

Stable indoor flight doesn’t come much better than this

Specifications
Best for: Indoor flying
Type: Toy
Weight: 64g
Reasons to buy
+Cheap and cheerful+Rock-steady indoor flight

In the pantheon of indoor toy drones, the acrobatic Parrot Mambo is a master of stability. Like the rest of Parrot’s Mini Drone roster, this little fella hovers in one spot so perfectly that you could pop off to put the kettle on and when you return it’ll still be in the same place. You fly it using the Freeflight 3 app (Apple and Andoid) which can take a bit of getting used to since there is no feedback when your thumbs are resting on smooth glass. But hey, this thing’s so easy to fly you’ll have it mastered in seconds.

Aside from the drone-only option, the Mambo also comes with clip-on fittings that allow it to shoot tiny balls at a target or pick up items the weight of a sugar lump. Mate it to the optional Parrot Flypad hand controller for an even more accurate flying experience or grab the FPV pack for the full immersive monty.

Best cheap drones for beginners: Yuneec Breeze

12. Yuneec Breeze

A compact beginner’s drone for capturing life on the go

Specifications
Best for: Selfies
Type: Personal drone
Weight: 385g
Reasons to buy
+Capture high-quality stills and videos+Perfect for taking selfies
Reasons to avoid
 

The Breeze has been around for a while and although ageing still offers exceptional value for money. It packs in-flight features that will be familiar to all drone pilots with advanced options such as Selfie mode, Orbit and follow me. You can even program the Breeze through the app to follow a set route guide by its integrated GPS system. The Breeze is ideal for use almost anywhere, it’s great fun to use to shoot selfies with friends and the orbit and follow modes are fun additions. If you want a good quality drone that’s easy to fly, at this price you can’t go wrong with the Yuneec Breeze.

Best cheap drones for beginners: Nikko Air DRL Race Vision 220 FPV Pro

13. Nikko Air DRL Race Vision 220 FPV Pro

Take pole position with the best cheap drone for racing

Specifications
Best for: High speed flight
Type: Racing drone
Weight: 2,180g
Reasons to buy
+Immersive FPV experience+25mph top speed

If you have your eyes set on a future career as a high-flying racing drone pilot, the Nikko Air DRL Race Vision 220 FPV Pro is a great place to start. Designed in collaboration with the Drone Racing League, the Nikko Air is made to fly at high-ish speeds – up to 25mph – and can be piloted using a controller with integrated colour LCD screen, or via the included FPV goggles to give you a truly immersive drone racing experience. Granted, the view through the goggles is pretty poor but it’s good enough to see where the drone’s going.

Three flight modes limit the speed to help pilots master the controls gradually and propeller guards are supplied for complete newbies, while 16 pre-programmed stunts can be performed at the touch of a button. Up front is a 130 degree adjustable wide angle camera lens which gives you a wider field of view when racing or maneuvering around tricky obstacles.

New consumer drone regulations

Given the regularity of news about wayward drone operators flying their craft in an irresponsible manner, it was only a matter of time before the authorities considered ramping up the regulations. As a result, all owners of drones weighing between 250g and 20kg (that’s basically all the drones on this page bar the Ryze Tello, Parrot Mambo and possibly the Zerotech Dobby) are, by law, required to register online as a drone operator, and take and pass an online education test. Registration costs £9 and must be renewed annually.

Here’s the full brief from the Civil Aviation Authority’s website:

The UK’s new Drone and Model Aircraft Registration and Education Scheme went live on 5 November 2019. There are two elements to the online system.

  • Anyone responsible for a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg will need to register as an operator. The cost for this will be £9 renewable annually.
  • Anyone flying a drone or unmanned aircraft (including model aircraft) weighing between 250g and 20kg will need to take and pass an online education package. This is free and renewable every three years.

Both of these requirements became law on 30 November 2019. You can register your details at register-drones.caa.co.uk.

Drone flying safety tips

  • Never fly your drone above 400ft. This isn’t an issue for some of the lower altitude drones in our selection, but don’t be fooled by the size and price, as these drones are still very advanced!
  • Don’t fly your drone over properties or people. Ensure you keep a distance of at least 150m.
  • Always keep line of sight with your drone. In fact, this is the most important rule of drone flying. This is particularly important with small drones as they can easily be lost.
  • If you fly too close to an airport it’s likely you’ll run into trouble with the law and possibly even end up in the news! Make sure you’re at least 1km away from the outer boundary, and use common sense when it comes to flying your drone near flight paths.
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Best drone 2021: fly the sky, shoot 4K video and grab hi-res photos with the best drones

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Best drone 2021: fly the sky, shoot 4K video and grab hi-res photos with the best drones

The best drones for aerial video and photography, from pro UAVs to options for beginners

DJI Air 2S drone
(Image credit: PowerVision)

Trying to figure out the best drone to buy right now? We’ve got good news and bad news. The good news is that in recent years, drones (or unmanned aerial vehicle/UAV, as absolutely no-one outside of the military calls them) have evolved beyond all recognition. The bad news is that there are now so many to choose from that finding the right one can be a bit of a minefield.

This is precisely why we’ve put together this guide. Read on for our pick of the best drones available right now – or more specifically, the best camera drone. This guide is focused on the best models available, but if you’re looking for lower-priced options, head to our best cheap drones guide instead. If you’re new to the drone world, jump to what to know before buying a drone (or check out our drone flying regulations guide) first.

What is the best drone 2021?

When it comes to the best drones, specifically camera drones, the brand that stands far above the rest is still DJI. This is reflected by the fact that DJI fills numerous positions in our list below, and markedly most of the top spots.

The best drone right now is the new DJI Air 2S. It’s everything a camera drone should be – compact, light, quiet and packing some outstanding onboard tech. However, it’s a very close-run battle with the tiny DJI Mini 2, which offers incredible features for an eminently affordable price. For the ultimate in both video and image quality, no consumer drone holds a candle to the class-leading DJI Mavic 2 Pro and, to a high degree, its stablemate, the DJI Mavic 2 Zoom.

However, our list also includes drones that let you experience the thrill of first-person flight (the new DJI FPV, which is easy to use and flies like the clappers), drones that let you take off and land on water (the PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard) and compact ‘toy’ drones (the Ryze Tello is easy to fly, shoots decent video and you can even program it yourself). In short, there’s something for every type of flier and every budget here. Let’s take a look at the best drones around.

The best camera drones to buy now

best drone: DJI Air 2ST3 Award Winner sponsored by Wiggle

(Image credit: DJI)

1. DJI Air 2S drone

The best drone – and a T3 Award winner

Specifications
Battery life: 31 mins
Transmitter range: 12km
Max camera resolution: 5.4K / 20MP
Reasons to buy
+Sensational camera and shoots in 5.4K+Four-sided obstacle avoidance+Lightweight and compact+Quiet to fly
Reasons to avoid
Fiddly licensing required

Released April 2021, the DJI Air 2S is a sensational camera drone in every respect. It’s so good, we gave it the T3 Award 2021 for Best Drone. Despite being lightweight and very portable, this foldable drone packs some incredible onboard tech, including a 1-inch CMOS sensor that enables you to capture unbelievably sharp images and video. The air 2S will shoot 5.4K video at 30fps or 4K at 60fps and 150Mbps, as well as 20MP stills (by comparison, the Mavic Air 2’s half-inch CMOS sensor can manage 4K/60fps at 120Mbps and 12MP stills). It also flies absolutely beautifully (and quietly), comes with four-way sensors to help you avoid collisions, and boasts some impressive advanced in-flight features. Head to our DJI Air 2S review for more of what we thought of it, or see how it matches up against its predecessor in our DJI Air 2S vs DJI Mavic Air 2 comparison.

While the DJI Air 2S is very hard to find fault with, if you’re looking for something smaller, cheaper and easier to license, the Mini 2 at number 2 on our list, is also absolutely superb.

best camera drone: DJI Mini 2T3 Award

(Image credit: DJI)

2. DJI Mini 2

The best small drone offers incredible value for money

Specifications
Battery life: 31 mins
WiFi range: N/A
Transmitter range: 6.21 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/12 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Foldable and palm sized+Shoots superb 4K video and 12mp stills+Improved video transmission+Excellent price

Despite sitting at number 2 in our ranking, the pocket-sized DJI Mini 2 will still be the best drone for many people’s needs. This titchy bird is so small when folded you can hide it behind an iPhone, and weighs a floaty 249g fully loaded. What’s especially impressive here is how DJI has managed to instal a 4K-spec camera and 3-axis gimbal in such a tiny craft and equip it with a rocksteady video transmission distance of up to 10km (6.21 miles). For the record, the camera shoots 4K at up to 30 frames per second, 2.7K up to 30fps and 1080p up to 60fps and beautifully detailed 12mp stills in both RAW and JPEG.

Despite the size and low weight, the Mini 2 is equipped with Level 5 wind resistance and that means it’ll hold its own in a stiff breeze. It will also fly for up to an amazing 31 minutes on a single charge. There are further surprises buried in the DJI Fly app, including a raft of autonomous quick-shot functions – Dronie, Circle, Helix, Rocket, Boomerang, 4K Hyperlapse and three types of panorama. Granted, the Mini 2 doesn’t have obstacle avoidance but we don’t think this is a deal breaker if common sense prevails.

The 249g weight means the DJI Mini 2 is one measly gram shy of the CAA’s new 250g December 2020 regulation (read more on that) for camera-carrying drones. However, while that means you don’t need to pass an online exam, you do now need to register it, stick an ID number on your drone, and pay £9 every year to the CAA for the privilege.

If you’ve always hankered after a top-quality camera drone but didn’t fancy the idea of splashing out a fortune, then this marvel of technology is the model for you. Head to our DJI Mini 2 drone review to find out more (or our DJI Mavic Mini review for a look at the – very similar – previous iteration). Alternatively, so how it compares to a larger option in our DJI Mini 2 vs DJI Mavic Air 2 drone faceoff.

Best drone: DJI Mavic 2 Pro

3. DJI Mavic 2 Pro

The best professional drone delivers a complete cinematic experience

Specifications
Battery life: 31 mins
Transmitter Range: 5 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/20 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Excellent Hasselblad camera+Stunning 4K video and 20-meg stills+It folds for portability+Rock solid flyer
Reasons to avoid
Heavier than other modelsMore expensive too

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is our pick for the best professional drone. It’s almost impossible to crash given that it has 10 obstacle sensors facing in every direction. That’s reason one to buy one. The second reason is the stunning three-axis gimbal-mounted Hasselblad camera, which comes fitted with a one-inch CMOS sensor – like that in the Sony RX100 and RX10 series – and an adjustable aperture that goes from f/2.8 to f/11. This is an exquisite piece of kit capable of shooting in several video resolutions, including 4K at up to 30 frames per second, 2.7K at up to 60fps and 1080p at up to 120fps. It also takes strikingly sharp 20 megapixel RAW stills.

Flight wise, the Mavic 2 Pro is as rock solid and confidence inspiring as we’ve come to expect. With larger motors fitted to its four arms, the drone is capable of hitting 44mph in Sports mode and – with the aid of a larger battery – able to remain aloft for up to 31 minutes at a time. Its Occusync 2.0 transmission, meanwhile, offers crisp 1080p live streaming from up to five miles away.

Like most Mavic models, this one also comes with 8GB of onboard storage along with the obligatory Micro SD card slot. Heading over to the DJI Go 4 app, the Mavic 2 Pro comes with a cluster of intelligent flight modes, plus the addition of a Hyperlapse function that captures stop-frame visuals over a wide area before stitching it all together within the app.

If high-end cinematography or aerial landscape photography are your main prerequisites when considering a drone, then this one ticks every box under the sun. Find out more in our Mavic 2 Pro review.

best drone: DJI Mavic Air 2

(Image credit: DJI)

4. DJI MAVIC AIR 2

Best value drone for hi-res images and videography

Specifications
Battery life: 34 mins
Transmitter Range: 6 miles
Camera resolution: 4K/48 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Takes amazing 48MP stills+Shoots 4K at 60fps+Three-way obstacle avoidance+Faster than a squirrel up a tree
Reasons to avoid
Not as good as the Air 2S

Despite being firmly outshone by its successor (the Air 2S at #1), the DJI Mavic Air 2 is is still a great drone. The camera is a cracker and sports a half-inch sensor capable of shooting 4K footage at 60fps. The Mavic Air 2’s stills taking capacity is even more impressive – up to 48mp resolution for unprecedented sharpness, clarity and detail. It also comes with a smorgasbord of extra photo and video enhancement tech, including Scene Recognition, Spotlight 2.0 which locks the camera on a subject while the pilot does the flying and the obligatory ActiveTrack for following moving subjects.

The completely redesigned hand controller is another major improvement. Yes, it’s larger than before but it’s really comfortable in the hand and it has a phone mounting system that is way better than the earlier model’s. The Mavic Air 2 has a long battery life too (34 minutes) and in Sport mode it rips across the sky at up to 42.5mph – that’s fast! It also features three-way obstacle avoidance and APAS (Advanced Pilot Assistance System) for smoother manoeuvrability around obstacles. Head to our Mavic Air 2 review for more info, and see how it compares to our #1 pick in our DJI Mini 2 vs DJI Mavic Air 2 faceoff.

best drone: PowerVision Power Egg X Wizard

(Image credit: PowerVision)

5. PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard Version

The great-looking weather proof drone even lands on water

Specifications
Battery life: 30 mins
WiFi Range: N/A
Transmitter Range: 3.5 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/12 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Lands and takes off from water+Good range of autonomous modes+Handles very well+Also serves as a stabilised land camera
Reasons to avoid
Camera not up to DJI specNot as portable as the DJI Mini and Air 2

The PowerVision PowerEgg X is a do-it-all drone you can fly safely in inclement weather and over water without fear of going missing. If there was an award for best looking drone, the PowerVision PowerEgg X would walk it – it looks simply fantastic when airborne. Nevertheless, with a feature set that goes beyond any other model on the market, the PowerEgg X isn’t just smart looking, it’s pretty clever too. It performs most of the aerial tasks of the DJI roster – including front obstacle avoidance and autonomous flight modes like return-to-home, follow-me, orbit and timelapse – but goes two stages further by transforming into a hand -held stabilised camera and a tripod-mounted video recorder with motion tracking ability.

The PowerEgg X is as stable in flight as the majority of DJI drones we’ve tested and it will stay in the air for up to 30 minutes which is excellent. Its top speed, meanwhile, is a commendable 40mph and its video transmission range around 3.7 miles. It comes with a fixed focus 4K camera with a 1/2.8 inch CMOS sensor and on paper that sounds grand. However, while the footage it produces is undeniably very good, it’s still not up to the benchmark set by DJI; there’s a strange softening at the edges of the frame that becomes most noticeable when videoing foliage from higher altitudes.

It’s true to say that the Holy Grail of drone flying is probably some kind of waterproofing and floatation device because flying over water normally requires balls the size of Mars. Although most modern drones are exceedingly reliable in flight, there’s no telling what may happen when over water – bird strike, motor failure, exhausted battery, heavy rain, etc. Well the Wizard version we’re reviewing here comes with two robust strap-on floats and a fully waterproof housing that protects the entire body and camera. It can even land and take off from calm water and fly in both rain and snow, wind speed permitting. So, if flying over water scares the life out of you then a drone of this nature could well be your lifeline. For more info, head to our full PowerVision PowerEgg X Wizard Version review.

best drones: Ryze Tello

6. Ryze Tello

This budget camera drone is a sky-going bargain

Specifications
Battery life: 13 mins
WiFi Range: 100 metres
Max camera resolution: 720p/5 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Compact size+Steady flier+You can program it
Reasons to avoid
No GPSDoesn’t fold

Next up in our best drone ranking is the Ryze Tello. If you’re looking for a titchy but very well equipped ‘selfie’ type drone that stays in the air for 13 minutes at a time, comes with digital image stabilisation, shoots video in pretty decent 720p, snaps 5mp stills and hovers on the spot without the aid of GPS, then consider this remarkable little contender from Ryze.

The Tello weighs just 80 grams and measures 98mm at its widest point. In other words, it’s small enough to tuck in a jacket pocket despite not being foldable like the DJI Mavic range. Although designed for indoor flying, this little craft is also adept at flying outdoors, as long as it’s not too windy (without GPS on board, it could drift with the breeze and may not make it back to you).

Using the separate Tello EDU app (iOS and Android), it’s also possible to program the Tello to perform a series of manoeuvres with no real-time input from the pilot. Just drag a series of named colour-coded ‘blocks’ (‘take off’, fly forward’, ‘land) into a specific order and the Tello will follow the commands. This is an incredible development because it’s actually teaching kids (and adults) the basics of robotics in an easy and fun way. Find out more in our Ryze Tello review.

best drone: DJI MAVIC 2 ZOOM

7. DJI MAVIC 2 ZOOM

Best drone for shooting long-range video

Specifications
Battery life: 31 mins
Transmitter Range: 5 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/12 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+2x optical zoom+Lush 4K video+Obstacle avoidance
Reasons to avoid
Lower resolution stillsYou may not use the zoom much

DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom has the same DNA as its stablemate the Mavic 2 Pro. Both birds are the same size and pretty much the same weight, and  they’re both equipped with the same multi-directional obstacle avoidance systems and the very same internals. In fact, the only difference  between the two is the camera they’re equipped with.

Where the Pro comes with a Hasselblad camera replete with one-inch sensor for professional, high quality aerial photography, the Zoom forfeits image resolution in favour of a 2x optical zoom with a 35mm format equivalent focal length of 24-48mm.  However, when it comes to 4K video, both models boast the same rosy specs (4K at up to 30fps, 2.7K at up to 60fps, 1080p at up to 120fps), so this is the model to buy if you plan to shoot far more video than you do stills.

You might not use the zoom facility much, mind, but it certainly comes into its own when you want to shoot animals without scaring them or getting closer to an interesting subject without straying into private airspace. The zoom function also allows pilots to recreate the DollyZoom effect as used by Hitchcock, Spielberg, et al.

If you’re more likely to shoot aerial video than still images, then this keenly-priced option is a winner. Head to our DJI Mavic 2 Zoom review for more info.

best drone: DJI FPV

(Image credit: DJI)

8. DJI FPV

The best FPV drone for wealthy beginners

Specifications
Battery life: 20 mins
Range: 10 km
Max camera resolution: 4K/12 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Highly immersive and loads of fun+Incredible speed+Steers like a wasp+Excellent safety features
Reasons to avoid
Requires balls of steelNot cheap (and expensive to repair)

Now for something a bit different: the DJI FPV is the world’s first fully-fledged, ready-to-fly 4K-quipped FPV racing drone for newbies. Unlike other FPV drones on the market, the DJI FPV is equipped with a wide range of safety measures, including smart Return-to-Home (RTH), low battery warning, an auxiliary LED light and forward and downward obstacle sensors that will bring the drone to a halt in an emergency. Being of FPV origin, this drone comes with a pair of goggles that produce an exquisitely sharp image of what the drone’s front camera sees. The ultra wide 150-degree field of view is another major plus that gives the flyer full confidence when darting in and around tight, tricky spaces. It also ships with a beefy hand controller, or you can stump up for an optional Motion Controller that lets you control the drone using hand motions alone.

The DJI FPV’s 1/2.3” CMOS camera is mounted to a two-axis gimbal that keeps images rock steady no matter how shaky the drone may be in flight. Like any camera drone, you can also record video up to 4K resolution and take aerial photographs. However, being of FPV origin, the gimbal’s lack of a horizontal axis means that when the drone banks to the left or right, the image follows suit – a characteristic that’s part and parcel of all FPV flying.

The DJI FPV is equipped with three main flying modes. Normal is the ideal mode for beginners and boasts a top speed of around 33mph. Sport mode (60mph) is the option to go for once you’ve got a few hours of flying under the belt, and Manual mode (86mph) is like a fully-fledged FPV racer, replete with ultra tight turns and aerobatic flips and spins. A full charge will provide up to 20 minutes of frenetic flying.

Be aware that you will likely crash this drone from time to time and any repairs undertaken by DJI won’t be cheap. But if you’ve ever tried other FPV systems, you’ll really come to appreciate just how easy this package is to get in the air and fly almost immediately. Head to our DJI FPV review for more info.

best drone: Autel Drones Evo

(Image credit: Autel)

9. Autel Evo

Excellent quality prosumer drone at a tempting price

Specifications
Battery life: 30 mins
Transmitter range: 7km
Max camera resolution: 4k/21 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Hi-tech drone+Integrated OLED screen means no need for a mobile device
Reasons to avoid
Pricey

The feature-packed, hi-tech Autel Evo drone does it all, although it’s certainly been designed with intermediate-advanced photographers in mind – the drone’s camera, mounted on a 3-axis stabilising gimbal, records video at 4k resolution up to 60 frames per second (up there with the new DJI Mavic Air 2) and has a recording speed up to 100mbps in an H.264 or H.265 codec. The camera’s one of the best we’ve seen on a drone at this price point, making it easy to catch more detail and colour, even when filming at high speed, and a generous number of sensors help you avoid other objects while also making it wonderfully easy to land.

We’re also particularly impressed with the 3.3-inch OLED screen which has been integrated into the controller. This, coupled with the drone’s compact, foldable design makes it ideal for those who love to dash out the door with their drone at a moment’s notice. While it’s not cheap, the large number of accessories it comes bundled with means this prosumer drone is excellent value for money.

best drone: DJI Mavic Air

(Image credit: DJI)

10. DJI Mavic Air

The best value camera drone for 4K video

Specifications
Battery life: 21 mins
WiFi Range: 80 metres
Transmitter Range: 2.48 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/12 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Excellent 4K video and 12-meg stills+Eminently portable+Brilliant little flyer+Affordable

Although you’ll find its successor reviewed higher up this list, the DJI Mavic Air drone is still a true pocket rocket that excels in every department. It’s a lot lighter and smaller than the DJI Mavic Pro 2s and not much bigger than its smaller sibling, the Mini 2. The 4K video quality from the Air’s robust 3-axis camera system is very impressive and its 12mp photos are highly detailed for such a small camera. It can also take four styles of panorama images.

The Air can be controlled with palm gestures or a mobile phone; handy additions for those times when you can’t be bothered to dig out the supplied hand controller. That said, flying with the hand controller is far and away the most satisfying way to operate it. It also lets you fly much further – up to 4km (2.48 miles) away and back again on a battery that lasts around 21 minutes. Believe us, that’s more than enough time to film an opus.

The element we love most, though, is the addition of obstacle avoidance sensors on the rear as well as to the fore and below the craft; having so many safety features makes flying confidence inspiring, especially in confined areas. Overall, a reliable travel package that’s fun to fly and very well equipped. Head to our full DJI Mavic Air review for more.

Best drone: Parrot ANAFI

(Image credit: Parrot)

11. Parrot ANAFI

Almost as good as the outgoing Mavic Air, and a tad cheaper

Specifications
Battery life: 25 mins
Range: 2.4 miles
Max camera resolution: 4K/21 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Great 4K video and 21-meg stills+Very portable+Stable flyer+Excellent camera zoom
Reasons to avoid
Slow battery chargingNo obstacle avoidance

Like the Mavic series, the Parrot ANAFI drone collapses for easy transport but it’s not quite as pocketable due to its 244mm length when folded. Still, it comes in a great transport case that’ll easily fit in a small shoulder bag. At just 320 grams, the Anafi is 110g lighter than the Mavic Air. Should it ever fall out of the sky, it is less likely to sustain major damage.

Despite it looking like a dragonfly, the Anafi was apparently inspired by the humble bee. Accordingly, it has its three-axis gimbal and 4K/21 megapixel camera mounted directly in front of the drone. This means the props will never appear in shot when the drone is moving forward at high speed. It also means the camera can be pointed 90-degrees upwards for a unique perspective that few other drones offer. In flight, the Parrot ANAFI is not as confidence inspiring as the Mavic Air 2 – it loses quite a few points straight off by not having any obstacle avoidance. Nevertheless, it’s easy to control and stable in flight, even in a stiffish breeze. It’s also so quiet you can hardly hear a thing while it’s hovering just 20 metres above your head. At 33mph, it’s pretty sprightly, too, while its battery lasts an impressive 25 minutes.

Both video and photo quality seem on par with the Mavic Air 1 and in low light shooting it’s arguably a bit better. It doesn’t offer as high a frame rate as the Mavic Air but the 4K video and 21 megapixel images its 1/2.4-inch Sony CMOS sensor produces are tack sharp, with excellent detail and contrast.

Overall, the Anafi isn’t up to the benchmark set by DJI, but Parrot’s competitive pricing makes this an affordable entry into the wondrous world of aerial cinematography. You’ll find more info in our full Parrot ANAFI review.

best drone: parrot anafi fpv

(Image credit: Parrot)

12. Parrot ANAFI FPV

Enjoy a bird’s eye view and unbeatable responsiveness

Specifications
Battery life: 25 mins
Range: 4 km
Max camera resolution: 4K/21 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+A decent enough intro to FPV+The ANAFI is a rocksteady flier
Reasons to avoid
Can be disorientatingGoggles may make you feel nauseousScreen visuals not very sharp

If you’re looking to get into FPV (First Person View) flying but can’t stretch your budget to the DJI FPV reviewed above, then you might want to give this package a whirl. The ANAFI FPV package includes the drone itself (reviewed above in case you missed it), a Skycontroller 3 hand controller and a pair of Parrot’s Cockpitglasses 3. All three items come neatly packed in a small and stupendously well designed grey herringbone backpack.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, FPV is a bit similar to normal flying where the images from the drone’s front-mounted camera are streamed live to a mobile phone. However, in this instance, the phone is clipped into the supplied goggles which you obviously wear on your head. This means you cannot see anything other than what the drone’s camera is pointing at. It’s a very strange, disorientating sensation at first but once you get used to it, it’s probably the closest you’ll get to feeling the experience of actually flying – without killing yourself in the process.

The ANAFI FPV offers pretty good value for money, but the jury’s out on the quality of the visuals the camera ports to the screen – they were bit too fuzzy and pixilated in our opinion, and that was using an iPhone 11. FPV flight is an acquired taste and this package makes a very fair fist of it. However, you do need to be aware of the pitfalls lest you spend the extra outlay only to abandon the goggles after your first few flights.

best drone: DJI Inspire 2 drone

13. DJI Inspire 2

The best drone for pro-grade cinematography

Specifications
Battery life: 27 mins
Transmitter Range: 4 miles
Max camera resolution: 5.2K/24 megapixels
Reasons to buy
+Sensational camera system+Dual controller option+58mph top speed
Reasons to avoid
Heavy for trekking withInevitably expensive

When it comes to producing the very best cinema-quality aerial footage, there is simply nothing out there to touch the Inspire 2. In fact, the only reason this drone isn’t higher up our chart is because it is pricey with a capital P and large with a capital L. It also weighs a hefty 4.25kg, so you can forget about sticking it in your hand luggage.

The Inspire 2 is made from carbon fibre and magnesium and its dual battery system, four huge motors and 13-inch propellers will take it to a top speed of 58mph and a flight time of up to 27 minutes. The landing gear is retractable, allowing pilots, or a second camera operator, to shoot a full 360º panorama. It also comes with forward, downward and upward-facing obstacle avoidance sensors for extra confidence when flying in tricky locations. The Inspire 2’s pro-spec CineCore 2.0 image processing system is housed in the nose of the craft which means only the camera’s lens and sensor are attached to the gimbal.

This reduces weight and allows for easy camera swapping. And speaking of cameras, the Inspire 2 comes with a choice of five different models, from the compact Micro 4/3 Zenmuse X5 to the ultra high-end Zenmuse X7, which features a Super 35 Sensor capable of shooting in 5.2K Apple ProRes. Needless to say, the imagery this stunning cinematic system produces is of the very highest order. But, phew, it sure is costly.

Buying a drone: what you need to know

In order to figure out which is the best drone for you, it really helps to understand a bit about how different types of drones work. In a nutshell, drones rely on rotors for propulsion and control. The faster these rotors spin, the greater the upward lift. The movement of a drone can be changed by altering the speed of one or more of its rotors.

These rotors are powered by motors which can be ‘brushed’ or ‘brushless’. The difference? Brushed motors use a mechanical process (a ‘commutator’) to move the magnetic field that turns the rotors. Brushless motors, which are usually found on more expensive drones, are generally preferable, and rely more on electronics, rather than additional physical parts such as the brushes in the commutators, to generate power. This means they generate less friction (and bear in mind that friction slows the motor down), produce less heat and provide better all-round performance.

Another important factor to take into consideration is skill level. Beginners should look for more rugged models, as well as features such as rotor protectors and one-touch recall controls. But don’t make the mistake of assuming smaller, lighter drones are better for beginners – these drones are often designed for those keen to perform complex aerial maneuvers, and might well be trickier to control.

Finally, remember to look for drones with the features you’re specifically keen on, and no more. Opting for a drone which  boasts features you don’t need and won’t use, will mean you’ll spend more on a drone which will weigh more and won’t perform in the way you want it to.

Want to know more, a lot more? Check out our separate guide to how to buy a drone.

Drone regulations: what you need to know

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has some new regulations regarding drone ownership and flying. In a nutshell, as of 31 December 2020, all owners of drones fitted with a camera (even those under 250g like the DJI Mini) are, by law, required to register online as a drone operator. Registration costs £9 and must be renewed annually. Pilots of camera drones weighing 250g or more will also need to sit a new 40-question online education test (pass mark is 30).

For even better flying opportunities, we would suggest going for an A2 Certificate of Competence, which allows all pilots to fly in areas used for recreational, industrial, residential or commercial purposes.

Read the full guidelines, and register as a drone operator, at register-drones.caa.co.uk.

So you don’t get yourself into a pickle in a public place, there’s also some basic rules you need to follow:

  • Don’t fly near airports or airfields
  • Remember to stay below 400ft (120m)
  • Observe your drone at all times – stay 150ft (50m) away from people and property
  • Never fly near aircraft
  • Enjoy responsibly

We’d like to think that nobody needs to be told any of the above. And in truth, anyone who does fly a drone near aircraft probably deserves to go to prison. Sure, we don’t know that a drone can bring down a 747, but we are very sure that we also don’t want to test the theory. Ever.

If you’re in doubt about drone regulations and are confused about where you can and can’t fly your drone, head to the Civil Aviation Authority website and gen up on the current drone regulations. You can also check out Drone Code UK, which has a handy downloadable PDF with essential information regarding drone flying rules.

Now, with those stern words out of the way, you can head back to our expert guide to the best camera drones available right now, listed in order of excellence. Or simply peruse this handy list of the cheapest prices on those drones.

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Bristow Helicopters Sacks 100 Pilots www.boe.i.ng is for sale rent or lease !

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Iran Confesses It Unintentionally Shot Down Ukrainian BOEING Airliner … www.boe.i.ng is for sale rent lease on dotifi.com

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“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” President Hassan Rouhani said, as Iran reversed its claims that mechanical failure was to blame.

 

Collecting bodies after the crash on Wednesday in Tehran.
Credit…Arash Khamooshi for The New York Times

Iran’s military announced early Saturday that it had accidentally shot down a Ukrainian passenger jet, blaming human error because of what it called the plane’s sharp, unexpected turn toward a sensitive military base.

After days of tension since the jet crashed near Tehran on Wednesday, the same day that Iranian missiles struck American bases in Iraq, the admission was a stunning reversal. Iran initially maintained that mechanical issues had brought the Boeing airliner down, killing all 176 people aboard.

“The Islamic Republic of Iran deeply regrets this disastrous mistake,” President Hassan Rouhani said on Twitter soon after the military released its statement. He offered condolences to the victims’ families and said investigations were underway. The military said the person responsible would face legal consequences.

International pressure had been building on Iran to take responsibility. American and allied intelligence assessments had already concluded that Iranian missiles brought down the plane, Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, most likely by accident, amid the heightened tensions between the United States and Iran.

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“The little credibility that the Islamic Republic had among its supporters suffered a major blow tonight,” said Rouzbeh MirEmbrahim, an independent Iran analyst in New York and a consultant with the United Nations. “This tragedy undermines the image Iran has cultivated as a military power and weakened it significantly both regionally and internationally.”

Flights In and Out of Tehran Continued After Missile Strikes and Plane Crash

Planes took off after Iran’s missile strikes on bases in Iraq, and even after a Ukrainian plane crashed shortly after takeoff.

On social media, Iranians began expressing anger toward the military soon after the announcement, many of them using the term “harshest revenge,” which officials had repeatedly promised in the wake of the American drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, a powerful Revolutionary Guards commander, last week.

“They were supposed to take their harsh revenge against America, not the people,” wrote Mojtaba Fathi, a journalist.

The Iranian military’s statement said the plane “took the flying posture and altitude of an enemy target” as it came close to an Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps base. It said that “under these circumstances, because of human error,” the plane “came under fire.”

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The military said it would undertake “major reform in operations of all armed forces” to make sure that such an error never happened again. It said Revolutionary Guards officials had been ordered to appear on state media and give the public a full explanation.

In a statement of his own, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, tried to place some of the blame on the United States, saying on Twitter that the disaster was “caused by U.S. adventurism.” The military’s statement said there had been information suggesting the United States was “preparing to aerially target sensitive defense and key sites and multiple targets in our country, and this led to even more sensitive defense posture by our antiaircraft units.”

The State Department had no immediate comment late Friday about Iran’s admission of responsibility.

Suspicions that an Iranian missile had brought down the plane were raised immediately after the crash Wednesday morning — just hours after Iran fired missiles at two bases in Iraq housing American forces.

The Iranians asked the National Transportation Safety Board to help with the investigation, and the State Department granted waivers to allow the American agency to help. A senior administration official said Friday that he thought the Iranians wanted American investigators there to keep up the appearance that they did not know what had caused the crash.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss these matters publicly, said the Iranian military had poor command and control, and that this was reflected in what had happened with the airplane. Communications among officials and between units are often lacking, he said, and confusion can be the norm. Western analysts often overestimate the capability of parts of the Iranian military, he said.

State television in Iran aired footage that it said showed two flight recorder units recovered from the crash site. Processing their data could take more than a month, and the investigation could take up to two years, Hassan Rezaeifar, the head of the Iranian investigation team, said Friday.

The military announcement came as something of a surprise. As late as Friday night, officials were weighing whether to blame faulty jet equipment in acknowledging that Iranian missiles brought down the jet, according to four Iranians familiar with the deliberations.

Video verified by The New York Times and published on Thursday appeared to show a missile fired from Iranian territory hitting the plane. The video showed a small explosion as the plane flew above Parand, a city near the airport — where it stopped transmitting its signal before it crashed. The plane turned back toward the airport before it exploded and crashed, other videos verified by The Times showed.

When Iran began firing missiles early on Wednesday in retaliation for the killing of General Suleimani by the United States in Baghdad, international airlines rerouted flights away from Iran, and the Federal Aviation Administration barred American carriers from the airspace in the region.

After the crash, experts raised questions about why the Iranian authorities had not stopped flights in and out of Tehran.

In Iran, a debate over how much blame the government bears threatened to destroy the national solidarity that followed the country’s conflict with the United States. Many Iranians said that their anger over the lack of accountability at the highest levels of government had quickly returned.

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On Friday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States and its allies had intelligence showing that the passenger jet had been shot down. He was the first American official to publicly confirm the intelligence assessments.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, citing a preliminary review of the evidence, called for a full investigation “to be convinced beyond all doubt.” The jetliner was carrying 57 Canadians among its 176 passengers and crew.

“We recognize that this may have been done accidentally,” Mr. Trudeau said at a news conference in Ottawa. “The evidence suggests very clearly a possible and probable cause for the crash.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine made clear on Friday that Western governments had not initially shared the evidence underpinning their assessments that Iran had brought down the Ukrainian jet, though later a spokeswoman said that American officials had handed over more information.

Ukrainian officials also analyzed the plane’s flight pattern on Friday and determined it had stayed within the normal corridor for flights out of Tehran’s Imam Khomeini International Airport, Ukraine’s foreign minister, Vadym Prystaiko, said at a news conference.

“Our goal is to ascertain the undeniable truth,” Mr. Zelensky said in a statement on Friday. “We believe this is the responsibility of the whole international community before the families of the dead and the memory of the victims of the catastrophe.”

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Boeing to Temporarily Shut Down 737 Max Production . boe.i.ng is for sale buy it cheap sell make huge profit ! dotifi.com domain apps market

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Halting production of the plane will most likely hurt parts suppliers and could have a broader effect on the American economy.

A 737 Max at Boeing’s assembly plant in Renton, Wash. People working on the Max will be reassigned, the company said.

Boeing next month will temporarily stop making the 737 Max, its most popular passenger jet, the company said on Monday.

The decision, after a two-day board meeting, is the culmination of the worst crisis in the company’s 103-year history and follows two crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing had repeatedly signaled that the plane would be cleared to return to the sky before the end of the year.

Boeing’s decision could ripple through the American economy. The company is America’s largest manufacturing exporter and it views the 737 Max as critical to its future.

This new model of its workhorse 737 was begun under pressure in 2011 as the company sought to fend off competition from its European rival, Airbus. But after the two crashes, prosecutors, regulators and two congressional committees are investigating whether Boeing overlooked safety risks and played down the need for pilot training in its effort to design, produce and certify the plane as quickly as possible.

One focus for investigators is a software system known as MCAS, which was created for the Max and was found to have played a role in both crashes. Shortly after the first crash, off the coast of Indonesia in October 2018, Boeing promised a fix to MCAS. Then the second crash happened in March, in Ethiopia.

The plane was grounded days later, and Boeing has still not delivered a software fix for MCAS that has met federal approval. And there is still no timeline for the plane’s return to the air.

Boeing’s reputation and stock price have been battered, with shares in the company falling 25 percent since March. The company has already announced more than $8 billion in charges related to the crisis, a figure that is expected to rise significantly.

With the company still unable to win approval from global regulators to let the plane fly again, executives and board members have made, in halting production, one of the most consequential decisions in the manufacturer’s history, one that will also affect its hundreds of suppliers around the country.

Shutting down the factory “emphasizes the uncertainty of getting Max back in the air,” Jonathan Raviv, an analyst at Citi, wrote in a note on Monday.

Boeing has only rarely stopped production of its airplanes, most recently in 2008. But the company has never faced a situation like the one it now confronts. Boeing has sold roughly 5,000 of the jets, making it the best-selling aircraft in its history, and it has built nearly 400 Max jets that it has not yet delivered.

“It will have enormous ripple effects,” said Susan Houseman, director of research for the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research. “It will have very real effects on many people’s lives, and it’s never good for this to happen right before the holidays.”

Boeing said it intended to redeploy the roughly 12,000 workers building the Max in its factory in Renton, Wash., to other projects, avoiding layoffs or furloughs for the time being.

It will try to manage the disruption to suppliers, though it did not give details. It may continue to accept parts from major suppliers, so that when the company restarts the Max line production can be quickly ramped up. Other suppliers are likely to endure significant financial pain if Boeing’s shutdown halts part of their assembly line for a period of months.

“Our objective continues to be ensuring supply chain health and production system stability, including the preparedness for seamless transition in the future,” a Boeing spokesman, Gordon Johndroe, said in a statement.

Boeing’s shares were down more than 4 percent before the announcement. Shares of Spirit AeroSystems, which makes the fuselage of the Max, fell nearly 2 percent on Monday.

But because Boeing is not planning significant layoffs and its suppliers are distributed around the country, the overall effect on the broader economy will depend on how long the stoppage lasts.

“It’s a blow to the collective psyche,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “But the American economy is performing well, job growth is strong, and the stock market is near a record high. If there was a time when the economy could digest something like this, it is now.”

Boeing had already slowed production at the factory after the crashes. In April, the company said it would reduce the number of 737 planes it produced each month to 42 from 52.

It was not clear how long the Max factory will be shut down. Boeing continues to encounter hurdles with the Federal Aviation Administration and other global regulators as it works to return the plane to service.

The delays have varied from the technical to the procedural, and have now made it likely that the Max will be grounded for a full year, if not longer. Boeing has still not completed all the steps necessary to satisfy regulators.

As a result, Boeing has repeatedly pushed back the projected date of a return to service for the Max. Dennis A. Muilenburg, Boeing’s chief executive, said in October that he expected the planes to be approved to fly this year. But last week, Stephen Dickson, the administrator of the F.A.A., said the Max would not fly until 2020.

Southwest Airlines and United Airlines had already postponed Max flights until March, while American Airlines has said it won’t fly the Max until April.

The production shutdown adds to the pressure facing Mr. Muilenburg. Among his challenges: the company’s fraying relationship with the F.A.A., which has become more willing to openly question Boeing in recent weeks.

In a meeting at F.A.A. headquarters in Washington last week, Mr. Dickson told Mr. Muilenburg that it would be impossible to get the plane flying by the end of the year, despite Boeing’s previously rosy predictions.

“Boeing continues to pursue a return-to-service schedule that is not realistic,” an F.A.A. official wrote in an email to Congress before the meeting. “More concerning, the administrator wants to directly address the perception that some of Boeing’s public statements have been designed to force F.A.A. into taking quicker action.”

The board stripped Mr. Muilenburg of his title as chairman in October, saying the move would allow him “to focus full time on running the company as it works to return the 737 MAX safely to service.” David Calhoun, who became chairman of the board, has expressed confidence in Mr. Muilenburg.

But in an interview on CNBC last month, Mr. Calhoun did not offer a clear answer when asked whether the company would keep Mr. Muilenburg in his role as chief executive after the Max returned to service.

“Why speculate on that?” Mr. Calhoun said in the interview. “If we successfully get from where he started to where we need to end up, I would view that as a very significant milestone and something that speaks to his leadership and his courage and his ability to execute and get us through this.”

Mr. Calhoun added that “the board deliberates, every single meeting, on the subject of our leaders and how well they’re doing, and do they have our confidence.”

Boeing’s board was in Chicago on Monday as the company decided between reducing Max production or temporarily halting it. Though shutting down the line rather than further reducing the rate of production is a drastic step, it could help the company in some ways.

The process of delivering the Max jets it has already built but not delivered will take at least a year, and reducing the backlog would simplify that process. It would also reduce the time the newly built planes sit idle.

But the task of delivering its growing backlog was made more complicated last month, when the F.A.A. took control of issuing certificates of airworthiness for each airplane. That decision means Boeing won’t be able to deliver planes as quickly as it had hoped.

Boeing first suggested it might halt production of the Max in July. Last week, Boeing reached a partial settlement with Southwest Airlines to compensate it for some of the costs it has incurred as a result of the protracted grounding of the Max.

“Boeing still has credit lines and probably the ability to incur new debt,” said Scott Hamilton, managing director of the Leeham Company, an aviation consultancy. “Even so, at some point, Boeing — even with its financial resources — has to stop the cash bleeding.”

At the very moment Boeing announced it was ceasing production of its most important product, the company took steps to meet Wall Street’s expectations. As it announced the shutdown on Monday, it sent a simultaneous news release announcing a regular quarterly dividend for shareholders.

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Walgreens Targets Small Virginia Town For Drone Deliveries

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walgreens drone delivery virginia

A small town in Virginia will the site of the newest program to use drones for a delivery service. The town of Christiansburg Virginia is the site of program which is being put on by a partnership between Walgreens, the Aviation Tech company Wing, and Fedex. Through it residents will be able to have all their essentials from the drugstore as well as other items from local shops delivered directly to their doors in a matter of minutes.

drone delivery walgreens and wing

The program will initially launch with over 100 products available, including many popular medical products like cold and flu medication. They also plan to offer specialty “packs” in certain categories like snacks or pain relief.

Walgreens might not seem like the first company you think of when talking about drone delivery[1], but from a business standpoint it makes sense. According to Vish Sankaran, chief innovation officer at Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc, “approximately 78 percent of the U.S. population living within five miles of a Walgreens store…”. That’s a very sizeable part of the population, and puts them in a great position to benefit from the advancement of drone delivery technology. Having drones operating out of each store would give them a huge advantage over their competition for the convenience factor alone.

This also looks to be a smart move for a drugstore, as many of the products they sell are for people who probably don’t really want to be leaving the house. Imagine having a bad flu and needing medication, but instead of having to drive to the store a drone delivers it shorty after ordering. Drone delivery technology looks to be a smart move for consumers as well as business.

Walgreen’s partner, Wing[2], has also been involved with other businesses in the area. The local business Sugar Magnolia has also been working with Wing in order to provide delivery services with drones. This is interesting as Sugar Magnolia is not a huge, household name company, but a smaller on likely only known in the area. This shows that drone delivery technology is advancing to the point that even smaller businesses are able to get involved.

Looking at Wing, we see they’ve been busy for the last couple years building up to this. They’ve built out speciality drone and navigation software to achieve their goal of making delivery, quicker, easier, and cheaper. Backed by Alphabet, the company is in good hands and looks poised to continue their research and development towards their goals.

In terms of customer logistics, everything is controlled through their app. Customers simply make a few taps to select their products, and a drone is dispatched to pick up the products and then deliver to the customer. It really couldn’t be easier, and promises to be the most convenient way to shop if adopted on a larger scale.

The city of Christiansburg itself was chosen due to its proximity to Virginia Tech. Virginia Tech has already been in collaboration with Wing for over 3 years as part of a Department of Transportation pilot integration program. If all goes well, though, the obvious next step is to expand to other markets. Hopefully, some larger cities will begin to see the service in the next few years, although there are a myriad of legal issues in terms of drone operation that need to be settled first.

While completely autonomous delivery is still likely a few years off, it’s exciting to see the advancements in the field. With lots of big players looking to make it a reality, the future looks bright for delivery drones. Let’s hope that business keep looking to fund these types of projects, and hopefully one day soon your next package might be delivered by drone.

Dronethusiast Team. Kennedy Martinez

Kennedy Martinez

kennedy@dronethusiast.com[3]

Kennedy Martinez is a resident writer who joined Dronethusiast at the beginning of 2019. She has years of experience reviewing drones and other tech products. When it comes to flying drones, Kennedy loves the ability to create artistic videos from a unique point of view. Kennedy enjoys researching new drones and other exciting products that are available to consumers which is why she is committed to creating the best buyer’s guides for our readers.

Other Interesting articles in “News

References

  1. ^ drone delivery (www.dronethusiast.com)
  2. ^ Walgreen’s partner, Wing (medium.com)
  3. ^ kennedy@dronethusiast.com (www.dronethusiast.com)

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They Equipped a Drone With a Nail Gun? Here’s Why

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drone is equipped with a nail gun

Last month we wrote about a ban from the FAA on attaching weapons to drones[1]. With that in mind, it would seem crazy to attach a nail gun to a drone, something that could pretty easily be argued falls into their definition of a weapon. Before we start shielding ourselves from the onslaught of weaponized drones let’s take a look at exactly what’s going on here, and why it’s important.

The drone in question is actually part of a research project out of the University of Michigan[2]. In it, they attached a nail gun to a drone, and then have the drone nail shingles to a roof. Using a ground based systems they are able to track the position and movement of the drone. Then, using cameras on the drone are able to pinpoint the exact location where the nail needs to be driven through.

drone with nail gun

This allows the drone to work as a roofer, and actually shingle a roof. There’s still some problems to solve before it starts replacing humans, but it looks to an interesting take of autonomous drone work that promises to make a very dangerous job safer. Using drones to help with dangerous jobs and keep people safe is always a plus in our book.

They’ve also dealt with some difficult problems like keeping the drone from recoiling and getting the nail in exactly the right spot. These can be particularly difficult, especially considering the drone is hovering in the air; even the smallest movements could throw the whole process off. It really is a feat of engineering that something like this is even possible at all.

The big draw here for continued research is safety. Roofing can be a dangerous job, and only more so when you’re lugging a nail gun up two or three stories. Replacing this type of work with drones will make the whole process safer for all involved. This is really the appeal of a lot of this drone technology, making work safer and taking over more dangerous jobs. This is a particularly interesting case as it’s one of the first instances where manual work has been taken over by a drone. In many other cases we saw drones being used for things like their camera or with attached sensors, so seeing a new take on autonomous work is always interesting.

It’s not all good news though, in terms of real roofing work there’s two main problems facing the drone. The first is battery life. As of right now, the drone used in the experiments only has a 10 minute flight time. There’s some ideas about a ground tethered generator to provide more power, but this idea hasn’t been tested yet. With only a 10 minute flight time there’s a very limited amount of work the drone can do before it needs to recharge.

The next is simply the speed; the drone is significantly slower than a professional roofer. Using a fleet of drones might be an option, but then there’s still the concern of battery life and powering all those drones. As of right now, the drone is only able to handle small sections of a roof before needing to recharge which is not practical for actual work at this point.

These pose a bit of a problem together, and show that we’re still a bit far off from drones taking all of the roofer jobs, that’s also not considering all the new jobs created for operating and managing the drones.

Overall, while the idea is still far from practical, the work being done is certainly exciting. While drones have been used a lot for simple tasks, this is one of the first instances where drones are taking on more skilled tasks. A few more years of development on this technology and who knows where drones will be!

Dronethusiast Team. Kennedy Martinez

Kennedy Martinez

kennedy@dronethusiast.com[3]

Kennedy Martinez is a resident writer who joined Dronethusiast at the beginning of 2019. She has years of experience reviewing drones and other tech products. When it comes to flying drones, Kennedy loves the ability to create artistic videos from a unique point of view. Kennedy enjoys researching new drones and other exciting products that are available to consumers which is why she is committed to creating the best buyer’s guides for our readers.

Other Interesting articles in “News

References

  1. ^ FAA on attaching weapons to drones (www.dronethusiast.com)
  2. ^ University of Michigan (news.umich.edu)
  3. ^ kennedy@dronethusiast.com (www.dronethusiast.com)

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