CES (Consumer Electronics Show) is a massive tradeshow.
In 2019 the conference had over 180,000 attendees and about 4,500 exhibitors. CES 2020, which just wrapped up in Las Vegas, NV, was just as big.
Compare that size with the drone-focused InterDrone, with a typical showing of 2,000 attendees and 135 exhibitors—which is not to say that InterDrone is small, but that CES is HUGE.
The size and mainstream reach of CES are reasons why many drone companies choose it as a forum for announcing their latest and greatest technology, because it’s a place to reach not just those already interested in drones but also those who are interested in new gadgets in general.
The entire tech ecosystem is here at CES 2020, and the products and technologies launching this week will inspire, connect and change lives for the better.
– Gary Shapiro, President and CEO of the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)
One of the biggest surprises at CES this year might have been DJI’s small showing. Instead of a product release, DJI showcased it’s “wide product portfolio.” Meaning, they shared all the drones they already make.
To be fair, the drone giant did have a company it backs make a big showing on the LiDAR field—check out the news about Livux at #4 below to learn more.
And either way, DJI isn’t the only drone company out there, right? As you’ll see, plenty of other competitors stepped in this year to fill the void DJI may have created.
So without further ado, here are our picks for the top drone-related launches at CES 2020.
1. Sunflower Labs Home Awareness System
Sunflower Labs’ Home Awareness System is a home security system that uses drones to patrol your property, sensors designed to mimic garden lights, and a central processor (housed in the drone’s charging station, called the Hive) to store and process all the intel being gathered by the drone and sensors.
The drone part of the security system is the Bee, an autonomous drone that can deploy and fly on its own, with cameras onboard to live-stream video.
But all of this comes at a steep cost—the system starts at $9,950 and can be even more expensive depending on your specific property’s custom needs.
2. Doosan’s Hydrogen Fuel Cell Powerpack for Drones
Doosan is one of the leading producers of hydrogen drones, with a drone that can charge in ten minutes and fly for two hours.
This year at CES they were demoing what they claim to be the world’s first commercial hydrogen fuel cell powerpack for drones, the Doosan DP30 Powerpack, which won a CES 2020 Innovation Award in the Drones & Unmanned Systems category.
The DP30 powerpack comes in a modular package that includes a lightweight hydrogen fuel cell system and a drone frame.
3. Autel’s EVO 2
Autel released their Evo drone in at CES 2018, where it immediately drew comparisons with DJI’s Mavic Pro. At the time, some even called it a “potential Mavic Pro killer” but the Mavic Pro is still alive and kicking.
Like the EVO, the EVO 2 looks similar to the Mavic Pro, but outpaces the Pro in some key areas.
At an impressive 40 minutes, the EVO 2 has the longest battery life of any foldable drone. It comes in three different variations to accommodate different use cases, which include an 8K video and a thermal camera option.
The EVO 2 also has brand new bells and whistles, like an all-new sensor and storage package, omni-directional obstacle avoidance with 12 computer vision sensors, 2 sonar sensors, and 2 LED landing lights, 8GB of internal storage, and the ability to accept SD cards up to 256GB, and the ability to follow subjects autonomously around obstacles at high speeds.
4. Livox’s 2 New LiDAR Sensors
DJI’s biggest news at CES 2020 came not directly from it but from Livox, a company created through DJI’s Open Innovation Initiative.
Through the Initiative, DJI provides promising startups with guidance, resources, and financial support to solve industry challenges with new technology.
Livox’s big launches at CES 2020 were two new LiDAR sensors, called the Horizon and the Tele-15. The company claims that the sensors use a new method of lidar scanning, which is called a Non-Repetitive Scanning pattern and produces a more robust image than the Repetitive Linear Scanning pattern commonly used.
Livox sensors increase the environment scanned, generating a larger scanning pattern to create a 3D image of the surrounding environment, as shown in the side-by-side comparison above.
Not just are these sensors more powerful than traditional methods, they’re also a lot cheaper. According to Livox, their scanners will only cost “1% of the price of current market alternatives.” The goal for Livox’s new sensors is to make LiDAR accessible to more customers, and to create sensors that can be used not only for drones but also to support autonomous driving to smart cities, mapping, and mobile robotics.
5. PowerVision’s PowerEgg X Drone
PowerVision’s PowerEgg X is a smaller version of their PowerEgg drone. It still looks like an egg, but it also looks a little more like a traditional quadcopter than the original.
The X is waterproof (as you might have noticed in the photo above), and is described by PowerVision as a three-in-one camera because it can be used as an autonomous tabletop selfie camera, a drone camera, or a handheld camera.
Using what PowerVision calls a “proprietary AI algorithm” the PowerEgg X can recognize faces and track subjects to keep them focused in the center of the frame, and track subjects even as they move in and out of its field of view.
The X’s 4K camera sits on a three-axis motorized gimbal, which allows for shooting smooth, continuous shots whether the drone is being flown or held and used as a camera.
6. DroneDek’s Drone Mailbox
DroneDek’s new drone mailbox is a ‘smart delivery receptacle’ made to receive drone deliveries.
The mailbox is a fully autonomous, sensor-equipped landing pad that is also a receptacle for drone-delivered packages built to protect them until they can be collected.
7. Phantom 4 Pro V2 back in production
Production on the Phantom 4 Pro V2 was halted indefinitely back in March but DJI used CES 2020 to announce that they’re making this prosumer favorite again.
At the time of the production halt, it was variously speculated that a Phantom 5 might be just around the corner, or that a case of widespread fraud at DJI had hindered the production of the Phantom 4 Pro’s parts. It could also be that U.S. tariffs contributed to the production halt.
Whatever the reason, the Phantom 4 Pro V2 is back—you can shop for it now on the DJI site.