Parrot is creating a new ‘prosumer’ drone division after cutting a third of its workforce

With three new drones.

Parrot Disco-Pro AG
Parrot

French drone maker Parrot is starting a new division to bridge the gap between its extremely expensive commercial line, which cost upward of $11,000, and its extremely inexpensive consumer drones, which can cost as little as $100.

he new division, dubbed Parrot Professional, is now making drones that fall into the “prosumer” category, the $1,000-$5,000 price range. Drones in this new division are intended to support construction and agriculture with a new work tool without the need for a professional pilot.

Earlier this year, Parrot announced it was laying off nearly 300 employees, about a third of its entire drone operation, and reorganizing the company to focus more on aircraft for commercial applications.

Poor performance in the fourth quarter of 2016 caused the company to miss its sales estimates by 15 percent, and Parrot projected that sales in its consumer drone business were unlikely to improve enough to generate “profitable growth … over the medium and long term.”

The French drone manufacturer is one of the few companies that actually competes with China’s DJI, the biggest drone maker in the world. DJI holds about 50 percent of the market share for commercial and consumer drones North America, according to Colin Snow, founder of Skylogic Research, a firm tracking the drone industry.

Still, DJI is stiff competition. For drones in the $500 to $1,000 price range, DJI claimed about 36 percent of the market by units sold in North America last year. Parrot captured around 7 percent of the market in the same price range, Snow found.

To ring in the new division, Parrot is unveiling three new drones, all of which are basically souped-up versions of aircraft from its consumer line.

The Disco-Pro AG, for example, is a modification on the Disco drone, loaded with high-performance sensors and autonomous flight-planning software. That drone will be available for sale in June and will cost $4,500.

The other two drones are tweaked versions of the Bebop-Pro 3D, which provides aerial image capture for 3-D modeling, and the Bebop-Pro Thermal, which is equipped with a thermal imaging camera. The Bebop-Pro 3D will cost $1,100 and will be available in June. The price for the Pro-Thermal has not been released, nor has its availability date.

DJI has long made drones in the “prosumer” category, though until recently those have in large part catered to use cases in advanced camerawork and cinematography. The Chinese drone company does have a small line of aircraft it markets for things like power line inspection and crop spraying, and last year it hosted a conference in San Francisco, AirWorks, in an effort to engage deeper with the construction, agriculture and industrial inspection industries.

Parrot, on the other hand, has been serving customers in agriculture and construction for years, mostly through its commercial subsidiary Sensefly, which sells a wide range of aircraft that range in price between $11,000 and $25,000, according to a Parrot spokesperson.

The French drone maker’s new “prosumer” bridge between its super-high end and low-priced consumer products may give Parrot a leg up on DJI when it comes to serving new smaller agricultural and construction customers, since it’s already familiar with the needs of those industries with Sensefly.

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Ethan Hawke shot most of his forthcoming biopic with DJI gear

‘Blaze’ tells the story of a troubled country singer through the eye of drones and the DJI Osmo.

DJI

Ethan Hawke’s forthcoming biopic, Blaze, sees the actor make the move from center stage to the director’s chair. The movie tells the story of the late country and western artist Blaze Foley, and is being filmed in almost entirely with DJI products. That doesn’t mean most of the movie is filmed from the air, though. DJI drones are part of the production, but the company’s non-flying camera gear, including the Osmo RAW and the Ronin DSLR stabilizer, were used extensively throughout the production. DJI was at SXSW in Austin to talk about its involvement in the film — all part of its DJI Creative Studio initiative.

Foley’s story is peppered with misfortune and tragedy. Most notably, his untimely death at just 40 years old, after a neighbor’s son shot him in the chest. Couple this with a period in his life known as “the missing years” and a musical influence that reaches luminaries such as Willie Nelson, and you essentially have a biopic that writes itself. Except, this one was written by Hawke and Blaze’s former sweetheart, Sybil Rosen. Hawke approached Rosen about the project after reading her own telling of Foley’s story in the book “Living in the Woods in a Tree.”

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Drones Are Saving One Life Per Week, DJI Study Finds

DJI Technology Inc, the largest civilian drone maker, is claiming in a new study that “59 lives have been saved by civilian drones in 18 different incidents, with one life a week being saved by drones on average.”

The study was published on March 14, 2017, and is based on reports in the news. The majority of the rescues have occurred in USA and China, although instances have occurred in Canada and Turkey as well.

One third were saved by civilians using their hobbyist drones and not by emergency personnel, showing their far-reaching abilities. 31 lives were saved during floods, as drones spotted missing people and delivered rescue ropes and life jackets. 19 missing people were found on land, on terrain ranging from swamps to mountains to snow banks. 9 more people were rescued off beaches or in boats.

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China’s police are now shooting down drones with radio-jamming rifle

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Quad H2O WaterProof MultiRotors

The HexH2o Pro V2 is the latest in the fleet of waterproof drones from Quadh20.

Following the continued success of this UK based drone company Quadh20 has continued to push forward the boundaries in the ever demanding and technically advanced drone market and have now released their most powerful waterproof drone to date. Continue reading

Ever wanted carbon fiber folding propellers for your DJI Inspire 1? HeliEngadin has a solution

Swiss company HeliEngadin has launched a new range of Inspire 1 Carbon Fiber folding propellers. The propellers attach to the motors using mounts that are machined from 7075 aeronautical aluminum alloy, and are made with a 20 micron tolerance. The company claims that no prop will ever detach from its motor, even when the ESC is applying full breaking power in extreme flight conditions.

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