Consumer Electronics Show 2015 – Drones

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ACDi CEO, Bill Hornbaker attended The Consumer Electronics Show 2015 (CES) recently, an internationally renowned trade show for electronic products.   There were many creative products showcasing new technologies, including the ever headline present “drones”, so we wanted to give you the run down on what you missed if you couldn’t attend.

It’s sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and is held in Las Vegas, Nevada during the first week of each year. The 2015 CES was the largest to date, with more than 3,600 exhibits and 170,000 attendees. Drones were one of the most easily identifiable products at this CES, which had over 20 companies exhibiting drones. These devices will become very popular with consumers in the near future, and prospective owners need to consider a number of issues with drones, including government regulations and battery power.

Overview

The companies demonstrating drones at the 2015 CES included Nixie, Parrot, Qualcomm, and ZANO. Nixie used its self-named model to win the Make it Wearable contest sponsored by Intel. The Nixie is a wearable drone that unfolds on command and takes photographs while in flight. Other drones offered additional capabilities such as control via mobile devices like tablets and smartphones. These models included the Airdog, EHang Ghost, Hubsan Q4 and X4, Maxaero X-Star, and Micro Drone.

Predictions

Drone technology for individual use is still in its infancy, but the CEA estimates that consumers will spend $103 million on these devices in 2015. This figure will be an increase of $69 million over the previous year, and global spending on drones is expected to exceed $1 billion by 2020. This rapid rise in popularity should be accompanied by an equally dramatic increase in capability as manufacturers began to realize the potential that drones have as a product for the mass market.

Manufacturers still need to overcome the barriers of cost and design feasibility to make drones attractive to potential consumers. The devices demonstrated at the 2015 CES aren’t yet available for sale, primarily because the designs are still being perfected. In addition, the least expensive drones currently cost about $400. This price point is generally considered too expensive to penetrate the mass market.

Regulation

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had a booth at the 2015 CES, primarily for the purpose of providing safe methods of operating drones. Congress has set a deadline of 2015 for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to legalize the use of privately owned drones within U.S. airspace. In February of 2015, the FAA released their proposed regulations surrounding the operation of drones.  The proposed regulations take into consideration licensing, certification, and size of drones, as well as time of day they can fly and visual proximity required by the operator.  The FAA will also need to regulate commercial drones, given the expectation that 7,500 of these devices will be in use by 2018.

Power

Battery power is a critical design consideration for drones, given their requirements for light weight. The average flight time for drones is about 20 minutes, although some models at the 2015 CES could only stay in the air for 10 minutes. However, flight time should increase quickly as manufacturers begin competing for market share.

Marketing

The prospect of selling drones to the mass consumer has attracted attention from major retailers such as Amazon and Google. These companies don’t yet provide delivery for these devices, primarily due to the regulatory scrutiny that would result from the sale of unmanned aircraft.

Looking Ahead

While regulations have only been proposed so far, it can be expected that there will be significant changes in the drone industry over the next few years.  With companies such as Amazon looking to take advantage of drones for their deliveries and movie makers looking to gain new vantage points while filming their productions, the options are endless in the ways we may see drones incorporated into our everyday lives.

Sources:
 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/innovations/wp/2015/02/15/heres-what-drone-advocates-love-and-hate-about-the-faas-proposed-rules/?tid=sm_fb
Articles published on ACDi’s site are a compilation of various authors, from employees to professionals in the industry that come from a range of backgrounds and skill sets to provide you the most reading satisfaction.
 

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