2022 Consumer Electronics Show in Review
With 2021 behind us, the UAV industry looks to continue its path of growth and innovation in 2022.
With a push into greater automation and expanded use cases, drones are more intertwined with your daily life than ever before.
While it is difficult to predict how the industry will look at the end of 2022, one of the industry’s best indicators of future success is the annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
This year, the CES 2022 was originally scheduled for Las Vegas, January 5-8.
Like many events, the ongoing global pandemic significantly changed what would be seen in a typical year at the show.
In addition to social distancing and mandatory vaccinations for all attendees, the show decided to close a day early – Jan 7 – out of an abundance of caution in the face of rising covid numbers worldwide.
In addition, just days before the event, tech giants like Google, Amazon, LG, IBM, GM, and more pulled out of in-person participation. With pre-pandemic attendance numbers of over 170,000 people, this year’s show brought in just over 40,000 attendees.
To address health concerns, the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show was both in-person and virtual.
Even with lower turnout, however, there were some incredible innovations on display.
From head-turning exhibits like BMW’s color-changing car to John Deere’s fully autonomous tractor, drones still held their own. In fact, they shined.
With so much going on at the CES 2022, it’s not easy to pinpoint one single highlight. However, one theme that touched nearly every UAV exhibitor was the move towards greater autonomy, and a focus on artificial intelligence (AI).
As the drone ecosystem continues to evolve, more manufacturers recognize the need for enhanced autonomy in all applications.
Skydio’s Latest Edition: The Skydio 2+
One of the first exciting announcements of the show was the introduction of Skydio’s newest platform: the Skydio 2+.
Building on the successes of the Skydio 2, the plus model boasts an improved range of up to 6km, extended flight times of 27 minutes per battery, and a slew of preloaded cinematic flight patterns known as Skydio Skills.
When partnered with Skydio’s superb autonomous capabilities, Skydio Skills allows pilots of all skill levels to capture stunning content with ease.
One skill introduced during CES 2022 is known as Keyframe. This new function allows users to define complex camera movements and angles to obtain incredible cinematic effects.
For real estate photography or infrastructure inspections, it’s perfect.
Keyframe uses complex tracking and obstacle avoidance technology to plot a path for your drone that keeps it safe, all while capturing amazing content – with a simple push of a button.
Skydio 2+ can be flown short distances with your smartphone, up to 3 km using the Skydio 2+ Beacon (a small remote), and up to 6km with the controller.
Combined with 360-degree obstacle avoidance, flying in even the most challenging environments is a breeze.
With the ability to capture 4K60 HDR content, the Skydio 2+ is sure to become a favorite among drone pilots everywhere.
Autel Robotics Wows at CES 2022
Autel Robotics arrived at CES 2022 to showcase their consumer and enterprise UAV solutions.
The company creates drones for every experience level, from hobbyists to professionals needing commercial-grade optics and exceptional performance.
On display at their booth, (which included an indoor flying area!), were the EVO Nano, EVO Lite, EVO II series, and the Dragonfish.
If you’re just flying drones for a hobby, then the Nano or Lite are fantastic, fun option.
The Nano is a small drone, weighing less than 250g – the cut-off weight many countries require for drone registration.
It’s comparable to DJI’s Mavic Mini., while the Lite can be compared to the DJI Air 2S. Additionally, the Lite uses an RYYB color filter array design, which absorbs 40% more light than RGGB setups.
What does that mean for you? The Lite’s color filter makes it ideal for low light conditions.
Originally launched in Jan 2020, the EVO II series is now available in multiple variations.
Along with the standard version, you can choose a pro model with 6K Ultra HD & a 1-inch sensor, an RTK model (Real-Time Kinetic) with centimeter-level positioning, a dual model with a radiometric 640×512 thermal sensor, and several other models.
Autel Robotics made full use of the Consumer Electronics Show, proudly showing off their EVO II enterprise with modular attachments, a 16x zoom, and a 20MP 1″ CMOS Sensor for enterprise clients.
The folding drone packs a lot of power in a small package, capable of centimeter-level positioning with RTK.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is the largest drone in their fleet: the Dragonfish series, available in lite, standard, and pro models.
With its tilt-rotor design, the Dragonfish can stay in the air for 180 minutes with one of its interchangeable payloads. It can reach speeds of reach speeds of 180 km/h (111 mph), and only takes three minutes to assemble.
For those that need maximum performance, it’s the perfect platform for inspections, public safety, and agricultural applications.
Although Sony focused its CES 2022 presentations on many of their more mainstream electronics and gaming products, the Airpeak drone was still a part of their product line on exhibit at the show.
This drone was a highlight of Sony’s display last year, and pre-orders were first taken in December 2021.
Although it’s pricey ($9,000 without the gimbal), it still has attractive features for cinematographers.
The drone is designed to use a Gremsy T3 gimbal ($2,200), and can carry numerous Alpha series mirrorless cameras or the FX3 full-frame cinema camera and lenses.
Airpeak can operate with a single pilot controlling both the drone and the camera, or divide the responsibility between two separate people.
If you’re a professional cinematographer, it’s an ideal setup. You can focus on getting that shot you need, while someone else takes care of the flight.
If it’s speed you’re after, Airpeak has you covered – reaching 50 mph in 3.5 seconds. Whether flying in winds up to 44.7 mph, or cruising indoors, Sony’s flagship UAV is up to the task.
An array of multicamera and multisensor vision systems allow for obstacle avoidance & flying where GNSS reception is blocked. And, the drone’s cloud-based web app (Airpeak Base) helps you maximize control of the creative process.
Although it is too early to tell if pilots will think these specifications are worth the cost, it’s still an impressive UAS.
XDynamics Continues to Grow
While you may not hear as much buzz about this company compared to DJI, Skydio, or Autel Robotics, XDynamics has a growing presence in the UAV Ecosystem.
The company released its latest drone, the Evolve 2, in 2021, introducing two new cameras and a handheld gimbal at CES 2022.
Though these cameras can be mounted onto the Evolve 2, they’re not quite ready yet for the marketplace.
The original setup for the Evolve 2 had a micro 4/3 camera system, interchangeable gimbal, dual touch screen controller, 33 minute flight time, and 11km range.
Without an optical zoom, the camera left some pilots wanting more. XDynamics listened, and responded with the Alpha 10x Optical Zoom.
The new camera now allows for expanded use cases, from cinematic applications to industrial projects – like utility inspections.
It also shoots in 1080p/60fps, with a 1/3″ CMOS sensor and boasts an IP 54 rating. Essentially, it’s a major upgrade for their systems.
Keeping with the theme of moving beyond cinematography, is the first thermal camera from XDynamics: the Vega Dual Thermal Camera.
With a thermal resolution of 640X512, this 4K camera has a 6mm wide-angle lens and 8x digital zoom. The Vega is rated at IP 44, enabling it to resist solid particles over 1mm in size and low-velocity sprays of water from every direction.
With plans for a release date sometime in 2022, XDynamics even developed their own handheld gimbal, the LIBRA m 4/3, perfect for capturing footage from the ground.
This 3-axis gimbal operates with brushless motors and interchangeable lenses. There’s even a built-in mini screen on the handheld for use when a smartphone isn’t connected.
As of CES 2022, no price tag has been announced.
Women to Watch Global Awards
In addition to showcasing the technology and innovations of the UAV industry, the Consumer Electronic Show 2022 helped highlight some of the fantastic people changing the drone ecosystem for the better.
Shows like these are about more than just showing off the latest tech. It’s about highlighting some of the key people that shape the industry.
This year’s CES served as the host venue for the 5th annual Women To Watch Global Awards. This outstanding event honors the women and teams making a positive difference in the UAS/UAM/AAM industries.
Since 2017, the awards have “recognized the trailblazers, innovators, mentors and business leaders making significant contributions to the industry. These individual awards are designed to acknowledge and inspire women who are driving change and shaping the drone industry.”
This year’s awardees include Bronwyn Morgan (Founder of Xeo Air), Madison Jeffery (manager at Swoop Aero), Karen DiMeo (CEO of AERODiMEO), and April Lanotte (STEM lead for NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate).
Even though CES 2022 was significantly downsized due COVID, it was still an excellent opportunity for the UAV industry to shine.
Manufacturers stepped up, with innovations focusing on improved autonomy and platform capabilities.
If you ever have the opportunity to attend, don’t hesitate! With so much to do and see, you’re guaranteed to find something you like.
All in all, the CES 2022 was a great start to what is hopefully successful year for our community.
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