One of the biggest technology trends of 2015 was (again) the rise of the drone industry. With commercial drones becoming more and more robust, the innovations in the industry are trickling down into consumer drones faster than ever. DJI has established itself as the leader of the pack in that space. Many of the best drones released in the past 3 years have come from DJI, and it’s stock has skyrocketed in the past 18 months, with the company recently rumoured to be valued at around $10 Billion.
However, a new competitor emerged at CES 2016 that could potentially threaten DJI’s vicegrip on the consumer drone market. Yuneec is, like DJI, a Chinese drone manufacturer. They have traditionally built light aircraft and electric paragliders, but they’re now dipping into the drone market, and the reception has been good.
It’s first foray into droning, the Typhoon 500, was reviewed positively last year. However, the company made a much bigger splash at CES 2016 with the Typhoon H, which delivers a high-end ‘prosumer’ drone at just two-thirds of the price of DJI’s Inspire 1 (the Typhoon H is expected to retail for $1,799, while the Inspire 1 costs $2,600).
A Potential DJI Killer?
Like the Inspire 1, its main competitor, the Typhoon H boasts a camera that can pan 360 degrees and retractable landing gear, but it surpasses the Inspire 1 in rotor count, with 6 rotors rather than the 4 found on the Inspire 1. Yuneec claims that the additional rotors will provide increased stability and will enable the drone to keep flying even if two of them stop functioning. The Typhoon H is also a very portable product which should be able to fit in a backpack. Once the arms are down and the props are detached, the body measures just 31x27x25cm.
Despite the maturity of the Inspire 1 and the wealth of accessories available for it, the Typhoon H appears to give consumers more features out of the box. Its impressive sense and avoid technology uses “ultrasonic proximity detection” to locate large objects and maneuver around them in real time. In its demo of the feature, Yuneec showed a Typhoon H dodging a falling tree whilst following a cyclist live on stage. It’s certainly worth taking a look.
If the Typhoon H can stand up to the rigors of real-world use impresses consumers, DJI may well have a solid competitor on its hands, which can only be good for consumers and the industry in general.