Back to Insights

CES 2017: The Next Wave of Drone Advancements is Here

CES 2017: The Next Wave of Drone Advancements is Here

Drones have certainly ‘taken off’ in a big way the past year.

If you’ve been following the CES 2017 coverage, you’ll know that drones and drone technology have made close to every ‘Top 5’ list of emerging or new technology to watch out for.

The Consumer Electronics Show (or, CES) hosted in Las Vegas at the beginning of every year is the world’s largest tradeshow for consumer technology. It’s a chance for gadget and tech enthusiasts to show off their wares and set the tone for innovation for the coming year. The show floor space at CES dedicated to drones has continued to grow year on year. With 44 exhibitors this time around, all eyes were on the sky (…at least, on the drone podiums).


So what stood out from the crowd? Well, as usual DJI still dominates the consumer market. The event saw the Chinese tech company launch two new Osmo product extensions, a prototype of their ultra bright CrystalSky monitor, as well as a new aerial mapping app and a limited edition of their Phantom 4 drone.

DJI Introduces New Products And Accessories At CES 2017

Hover Camera Passport

If you’re in the mood to be capturing ‘dronies’ (i.e. selfies taken by a drone device), the latest developments from Zero Zero Robotics’ may be of more interest. The company has unveiled a unique ‘Owner Mode’ function with the release of their new Hover Camera Passport. A function which cleverly allows their portable, propeller encased drone to use facial recognition to find and follow its primary user in a crowd.

Hover Camera Passport is a hit at CES 2017


Or how about a drone that can catch your dinner? Now it’s possible with the PowerVision PowerRay. Making waves as a UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle) the company claims the drone has the potential to “change the fishing world”. Packed with fish-hunting features, the PowerRay is capable of diving to depths of up to 30 metres. To lure the fish, the drone uses a sonar “precision remote bait drop” all while transmitting a live, full HD video feed to a paired smartphone app.

What if you’re left feeling a little redundant in your favourite hobby? Not to worry. PowerVision has also developed a pair of virtual reality goggles for live, VR viewing that can be used to control the drone with head movements for complete immersion.

CES 2017: PowerRay underwater drone makes angling easy

Commercial & Industrial

One major advancement we have seen at this years’ CES, lies in the increasingly professional nature of the drone industry. Breaking away from their ‘dronie’ taking counterparts, we are being shown the utility of drones for safely inspecting places and things like RTC incidents, farms, solar panels, wind turbines and wireless network towers.

According to recent reports by consulting firm PWC, the commercial drone industry is now valued at over $127 billion globally. Of the emerging market, the greatest increases are expected to be in infrastructure, agriculture, transport and security applications.

Clearly evident at CES, amongst the Star Wars Battle Drones and other drone toys, were a variety of commercial drones and technology that understand and comply with this growing sense of maturity. As a result, we’re seeing new possibilities, once thought of as too far-fetched, being put into practice and drones that can become a realistic and efficient way to innovate key industries.

Flir Thermal

One such example is a thermal camera for drones, a feature which has the potential for widespread applications across a variety of sectors. It’s manufacturer, Flir, has been making thermal imaging devices since the late-70’s and now after adding their technology to smartphones, among many other things, they’re entering the drone niche.

No bigger than a GoPro, the Duo is being described as “a compact, lightweight, dual-sensor thermal and visible light imager designed for drones”. Expect to see such camera adaptations being used to check irrigation piping and for finding lost livestock within the agricultural industry. Or, in a completely different capacity, fire services looking to assess a risky building and plan their best route, with search & rescue operations and law enforcement organisations using thermal to track down individuals in difficult circumstances. The possibilities are endless.

FLIR Launches Five New Thermal Cameras at CES 2017

BLOG: How the Use of Drones is Revolutionising the Emergency Services

Intel & Yuneec

Another interesting development comes in the form of computer giant Intel and their latest technology, RealSense. We were given a glimpse of the sonar sensors at CES 2016 when, together with Chinese drone maker Yuneec, they released their award-winning Typhoon H. As part of this years’ press conference, Intel and Yuneec showcased their latest model, the Typhoon H520. A high-powered industrial drone, the Typhoon H520 is being touted for everything from identifying problems with power lines to its ability to inspect giant wind turbines. The real innovation, however, lies in its increased ability to avoid collisions in real-time using the company’s RealSense sensors.

With this technology onboard, working drones such as the Typhoon H and the newer Typhoon H520 will create a number of new business opportunities – and should make using drones around other people and crucial infrastructure that much safer.

Yuneec Launches Industrial-Strength Typhoon H520 Drone

Overwatch: Komodo’s Enterprise Drone Management Platform


On the other end of the market, Mercedes-Benz is jumping on the bandwagon of drone deliveries. At CES the luxury automobile manufacturer presented a concept van (or as they’re calling it, a ‘Vision Van’) equipped with drones that will be able to gather and deliver packages while the vehicle continues to drive.

In partnership with drone tech startup Matternet, the van’s rooftop acts as a launch and landing pad for Matternet’s new M2 drones. These autonomous drones can pick up and carry a package of up to 4.4 pounds across 12 miles of sky, all on a single battery charge and in real world conditions.

The Vision Van can, for example, launch a Matternet M2 drone with a payload to a final destination that’s not accessible to a van or driver, whether that’s due to traffic in a populated urban area or a lack of safe roads in a more rural or disaster-stricken area.

Vision Van: A Logistics Centre on Wheels

What do these advancements mean for the future of drones in our Law Enforcement services? Stay tuned for Part 2 in our feature.

Drones catching your attention? Head over to our drone platform Overwatch. Developed with law enforcement agencies in mind, the platform is relevant to any industry or organisation that utilises SUAV footage to manage assets for infrastructure with a need for data security. Overwatch provides enhanced intelligence and evidence gathering capabilities to operators requiring secure integration with existing IT systems.