DJI announce new cinematic drone

You can certainly shoot movies with drones right now, but that doesn’t mean drone cameras are ideally suited to movie-making. They seldom have the resolution and image quality of the pro movie cameras you see on the ground, let alone the high-quality lenses.

DJI is trying to fix that — it’s introducing the Zenmuse X7, billed as the first Super 35 digital camera tuned for pro drone cinematography. Its large sensor lets you shoot 6K RAW video (in CinemaDNG format) with 14 stops of dynamic range, promising crisp, editing-ready video with plenty of detail in low light. And like any good movie-grade camera, the glass plays a prominent role.

The X7 relies on a dedicated mount system built for carrying prime lenses. You have choices of 16mm, 24mm, 35mm and 50mm lenses, all of which have a maximum f/2.8 aperture. You should get a shallow, film-like depth of field for closer shots regardless of which lens you use. The 16mm lens has an ND 4 filter, while all the other lenses tout mechanical shutters.

Software may play as much of a role as the optics themselves. There’s a Cinema Color System to offer more flexibility in the editing booth, and a new mode imitates the behavior of film cameras to help preserve info.

To no one’s surprise, airborne cinematography won’t come cheap. The base Zenmuse X7 costs $2,699 by itself, while every lens save for the 50mm costs $1,299 (the long-ranged lens costs $100 less). Completists will probably want to buy a four-lens bundle at $4,299. At least you won’t have long to wait before you can start on your aerial magnum opus, as the X7 and its lenses start shipping in early November.

Mercedes trials van-drone delivery system

While plenty see drones replacing certain delivery methods, the idea that they could simply complement them is also beginning to gather some momentum. Mercedes-Benz flagged its intentions in this area last year when it unveiled a concept van that incorporates delivery drones to handle some legs of a journey, and has now taken another step forward by kicking off trials of the technology in Switzerland.

Mercedes kicked off trials of its drone-van delivery service last week
Mercedes-Benz originally teamed up with drone company Matternet to explore how drones could be combined with…
As part of trials underway in Switzerland currently, Mercedes-Benz Vito vans will serve as connected, mobile…
Swiss online retailer siroop is taking part in drone delivery trials with Mercedes and drone company…
Mercedes-Benz originally teamed up with drone company Matternet to explore how drones could be combined with vans for more efficient deliveries, and it is now joined by Swiss online retailer siroop to carry out some real-world testing. Mercedes-Benz Vito vans will serve as connected, mobile landing platforms for Matternet’s M2 drones, which can carry packages up to two kg (4.4 lb) over distances of up to 20 km (12.4 mi).

So rather than the drones carrying out the final leg of the journey, they will instead bring items ordered by siroop customers from the merchant’s warehouses to the Vito vans parked at one of four pre-defined “rendezvous points” around the city of Zurich. There, the driver collects the package and completes the last-mile of delivery as normal, while the drone returns to the warehouse.

This is similar to the system tested by UPS earlier this year, but in that case drones would launch from trucks to act as a last-mile delivery platform for out-of-the-way stops while allowing the truck to continue making deliveries by road. So where the UPS system would save the truck from heading off the beaten path to make deliveries, the Mercedes/Matternet system would prevent the truck from needing to run back to a warehouse to stock up on deliveries.

While plenty see drones replacing conventional delivery methods, a the idea that they could simply complement…
“We believe that drone-enabled logistics networks will transform how we access goods every day – we will be able to order something online, and like magic, receive it within minutes, for a fraction of the cost and energy expended today,” says Andreas Raptopoulos, Founder and CEO of Matternet. “Switzerland is at the forefront of this technological revolution – this is the first time that a drone delivery network is operating in a major European city and the first time a van and drone network is operating anywhere in the world.”

The trials kicked off last week and will run seven hours a day, five days a week, over a period of three weeks, weather permitting. It is hoped that further down the track this kind of system could take the form of a fully automated e-commerce drone network, which would help ease traffic in urban environments and cut the cost and time of on-demand deliveries.

Soldier uses drone to assist with Hurricane Harvey relief effort

By now, most people are acutely aware of how Hurricane Harvey plowed through the coastal region of Texas Aug. 26. In the wake of his path, the hurricane left a tremendous amount of destruction and devastation to the lives and cities of those most directly affected.

As a result, Texans from all over the state stepped up to offer their assistance through an outpouring of supplies, living essentials and time.

Out of thousands of volunteers in the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts, a major assigned to U.S. Army South, found a unique way to offer his support through a special skillset.

Maj. Michael Stump, U.S. Army South fire support officer, received a call and was personally requested by the Guadalupe Valley Electric Cooperative, or GVEC, to assist in the small town of Ezzell, Texas.

The GVEC learned Stump is licensed as a drone pilot with the Federal Aviation Administration and flies drones during his spare time. Stump was contacted by GVEC a few days after the hurricane disaster and asked to fly his drone in areas where they could not assess the condition of potential downed power lines.

After hearing reports of elderly citizens being stranded in the town with no electricity for more than five days, Stump immediately volunteered his services and spoke with his military leaders about taking personal leave.

“I was glad they called me and heard I had the special skill and means to help out,” Stump said. “I wanted to do what I could and help them get to where they needed to go to restore power for the people who needed it, especially for medical reasons.”

The aerial survey Stump was able to conduct also provided observation to identify any signs of citizens needing assistance and confirm which power lines remained intact. Stump’s support also allowed an aerial survey for route options of an area deemed unsafe for vehicles and personnel to travel.

“I’m happy to have been able to help,” Stump said. “I also volunteer for Comal County Search and Rescue, so this was just another way I could give back and help the distressed people in our state.”

It was later found out that because of Stump’s support, the electric company was able to enter the area safely and efficiently repair and restore electricity to approximately 147 isolated civilians that had been without power or main road access for several days.