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DJI and Parrot boost drone line ups

Camera Drones

Parrot Disco fixed wing camera drone

In flight: Parrot’s new Disco is a fixed wing drone aimed at beginners

Drone makers DJI and Parrot have both announced new and upgraded hardware at the 2016 Consumer Electronics Show (CES ) in Las Vegas.

DJI is offering two new drones, the Phantom 3 4K, and the Inspire 1 Pro Black Edition.

The Phantom 3 4K upgrades DJI’s popular Phantom 3 line to include a more powerful, 4K camera similar to the unit fitted to Phantom 3 Professional models.

The Phantom 3 4K camera has a 94-degree field if view, equivalent to a 20mm lens on a 35mm camera, with a widest aperture of f2.8. The camera can record video at both Cine 4K and UHD resolutions, at up to 30fps in 4K. HD filming is available up to 60fps.

The drone includes a number of features developed by DJI to make it easy to fly, and a WiFi link, which can carry a live video feed. The Phantom 3 4K can stay the air for 25 minutes, and has the same positioning system as the Phantom 3 Professional and Advanced models.

The Inspire 1 Pro Black Edition is functionally identical to the company’s existing Inspire 1 Pro drone, which comes with a Zenmuse X5 camera module, based around a Micro Four Thirds chip. The shell, controller and battery of the new drone will be matte black, in a move DJI says it took, in response to requests from film makers.

Parrot, for its part, is taking a very different approach to the camera-equipped drone market with its Disco model. Unlike earlier models such as the Bebop and Bebop 2, which are based on quadcopter designs, the Disco is a fixed-wing aircraft with a nose-mounted camera.

Using a blended, swept delta-wing design, reminiscent of the Cold War Vulcan bomber, the Disco weighs under 700 grammes and Parrot claims a flight time of almost 45 minutes.

Due to an autopilot system, Parrot says the Disco is the first fixed-wing drone that users can fly without any training. Take off is by throwing the aircraft, in the manner of a paper dart, and then the autopilot takes over until the craft reaches the required altitude. The autopilot prevents users from giving the Disco commands which could cause it to crash.

The aircraft’s design means it can reach speeds of 80 km/h. As yet there are few details on the front-mounted camera, although Parrot says it will be capable of 1080p video. The Disco is expected to go on sale later this year; no price has been announced as yet.