Remember Prime Air? Amazon’s grand plan to deliver packages via drones with a promise of deliveries in 30 minutes or less. The vision was unveiled by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos with much fanfare way back in December 2013, but has since remained one of those big ideas that has failed to lift off, literally.
More than two years later, Amazon Prime Air is still stuck in legal limbo with regulators in a bind over safety concerns. Until specific regulations for commercial use of “small unmanned aircrafts” are finalized, commercial drones cannot take to the sky.
But for Amazon Prime Air to become a reality, there are other challenges that need to be addressed. One specific shortcoming is a problem that rival Google seems to have found an answer to.
Amazon’s concept requires that you are at your delivery address at the time the drone is about to drop of your package. Meaning, forget about a change in schedule or friends inviting you out for drinks last minute. Unless you want to risk someone else walking away with your package, you’ll have to stick around until the Amazon drone shows up with your order.
Google recognized this and has come up with an idea that would allow you to order goods online and have it delivered to your doorsteps even without anyone being home. Just days ago, the US Patent Office granted Google a patent that provides us with a unique insight into how Google is planning to win the drone delivery war.
So how is Google planning to solve the Amazon Prime Air dilemma?
The answer is simple and brilliant at the same time.
The basic idea involves a “mobile delivery receptacle” developed to work in tandem with delivery drones.
Details on the receptacle are still somewhat murky. The image filed with the patent shows a box on wheels. But to spark your imagination, just think of the delivery receptacle as an R2D2-like droid from Star Wars.
You keep the droid at home. After the droid is notified of a pending delivery, it would move outside to communicate with the drone in mid air. Infrared beacons would then be used to guide the droid to a precise meeting point for the drone delivery. After the package is received, the droid would then transport the package to a secure location, such as your garage. Safe and sound while you are out enjoying the evening with friends.
Both inventions are part of an initiative codenamed Project Wing, the latest project to come out of X, Alphabet, Inc.’s top secret research and development facility.
Alphabet is Google’s parent company and X is essentially a high-tech lab setup to develop and test all their new cool and groundbreaking technology gadgets.
Other top secret X projects that have come out of the shadows include, “Glass” for augmented reality, “Loon” for Internet-by-air-balloons, and “Driverless Cars”.
Like Amazon, Google is keen on getting a head start in the drone delivery business. It has ambitious plans of getting from concept to reality by 2017.
The company has been working on Project Wing for two years already, its existence confirmed by no less than Google Cofounder Sergey Brin in August 2014. Brin also confirmed a drone-testing facility in the Australian Outback with a hybrid drone that can take off vertically (like a rocket) and then rotate mid air to a horizontal position to fly around.
Why Australia, you may ask. The answer is simple. The Outback is a big empty place, except for some kangaroos and the occasional tourist. This allows the Australian government to be way more relaxed around unmanned aircrafts in its airspace.
[irp posts=”10750″ name=”Drone assists in 2017 NBA All-Star Dunk Contest”]
DJI Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro officially launch in the Philippines
The best compact drones in the market right now
Less than a month from its official announcement, DJI’s Mavic 2 Zoom and Mavic 2 Pro have officially arrived in the Philippines through ICT company MSI-ECS. These drones offer the latest technologies seen in a quadcopter and aim to bring aerial videography to new heights.
As a quick recap, both new drones shoot 4K video at up to 100 megabits per second — meaning it can capture high-quality footage. DJI also equipped the Mavic 2 with its own 8GB internal storage in case you forget your memory cards at home. They have more sensors for obstacle avoidance and boast improved battery life (31 minutes versus the older 27 minutes). They’re also a lot quieter than previous models.
The Mavic 2 Zoom is the world’s first foldable consumer drone with optical zoom capabilities. This way, you can get up close to your subject (like wildlife, for example) while maintaining your distance, so you won’t disturb them in their habitat.
It can also perform a dolly zoom by flying backward while zooming in. This produces a vertigo effect that renowned filmmakers use in movies.
On the other hand, the Mavic 2 Pro is the first drone with a camera co-engineered with Hasselblad — a leading brand in medium format photography. It carries a 1-inch CMOS sensor with a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile which translates to a professional-grade image with a lot of tweaking possibilities during post-production.
The Mavic 2 Pro shoots 20-megapixel photos and 4K UHD videos, has support for 4K 10-bit HDR, and can switch between f/2.8 to f/11 apertures depending on the lighting condition. Think of it as your professional aerial equipment that folds up and can fit inside a small bag.
Pricing in the Philippines will start at PhP 76,300 for the Mavic 2 Zoom and PhP 98,800 for the Mavic 2 Pro. Going for the Fly More bundle which includes extra batteries, propellers, and other accessories will come at an extra cost just like the previous iteration.
DJI’s Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom reinvent aerial storytelling
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The release of DJI’s Mavic Pro back in 2016 opened fresh opportunities for videographers as it was able to combine professional-grade output with portability — two elements that usually don’t go together in the filming world.
There have been other iterations that followed suit; mostly improving image quality and making the blades quieter. Although after two years, a fitting follow-up has been released. They come in two forms: the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom.
Apart from shooting 4K video at up to 100 megabits per second, these two models now have a built-in storage of 8GB and are, of course, expandable via a microSD slot. They are equipped with more sensors than the first generation for more accurate obstacle avoidance and have improved battery life (31 minutes versus the older 27 minutes).
The drones also have new tricks up their sleeves in the form of intelligent features. One feature to look forward to is Hyperlapse. You can choose from among its different modes like Free, Circle, or Course Lock and you’ll be able to capture a cool time-lapse (as seen above) ready for sharing on different platforms.
Mavic 2 Pro
The Mavic 2 Pro is proud to hold the title as the world’s first drone with a camera co-engineered with Hasselblad, which is the leading brand in medium format photography.
For a more detailed look, it carries a 1-inch CMOS sensor with a 10-bit Dlog-M color profile and with that tandem, DJI claims it can capture four times as many levels of color per channel compared to its predecessor. The new drone can shoot photos and videos with a promise of churning out utmost color accuracy thanks to Hasselblad’s Natural Color Solution technology.
It shoots 20-megapixel photos and 4K UHD videos, has support for 4K 10-bit HDR, and can switch between f/2.8 to f/11 apertures depending on the lighting condition. Think of it as your professional aerial equipment that folds up and can fit inside a small bag.
Mavic 2 Zoom
On the other hand, the Mavic 2 Zoom sports a smaller 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor but is the world’s first foldable consumer drone with optical zoom capabilities. This was made possible by combining two times optical zoom (24-48mm) with two times digital zoom to simulate a 96mm telephoto lens.
It only shoots 12-megapixel photos like the first Mavic Pro, but it has a fresh new feature called Super Resolution that we’ve seen in smartphones. It captures and stitches nine photos to produce a detailed 48-megapixel image.
If that still doesn’t impress you, one feature exclusive to the Mavic 2 Zoom is the Dolly Zoom mode. It basically creates a vertigo effect that filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock popularized.
The Mavic 2 Pro starts at US$ 1,449 for the basic package while the Mavic 2 Zoom comes as a more affordable option at US$ 1,249.
Paradise captured by the DJI Mavic Air
Many consider Baler to be paradise. A haven for those jaded by city life, the place offers a quiet escape for people who want to dip their toes in sand and sea or a chance to conquer the waters by learning to ride the wave. What better way to capture it than through the bird’s eye view of the DJI Mavic Air.
The DJI Mavic Air was officially launched a few months back but has only made its way to the Philippines recently. Compact but not lacking in features, it’s the perfect companion for travelers who want to capture the beauty of the archipelago. In a DJI Mavic Air bootcamp, members of the media learned that flying this drone is relatively easy but it does require some practice — just like learning how to ride waves in the beaches of Baler. You’ll need patience and perseverance but there’s nothing stopping you once you figure it out.
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