I just returned from CES2023 a few days ago, and it was a fantastic show. If you are unfamiliar with CES, it is the largest consumer electronics show in the world. Typically, the event takes place during the first week of January in Las Vegas.
CES is a huge show. This year there were over 3,200 exhibitors and in excess of 115,000 attendees from more than 140 countries. The show takes over most of the convention space in the city. If you have ever been to Las Vegas, you can imagine how much floor space that is.
Drones have been a part of the show for many years, although their footprint is pretty small compared to the size of the entire event. That being said, it is always cool to see new and exciting things coming out in the UAV world.
Surprisingly, DJI was absent at CES2023. In previous years, DJI has had one of the largest booths related to UAVs. While I don't have confirmation of this, the rumor was that DJI was banned from exhibiting at the event. You may remember that in 2020 DJI was placed on the U.S. Commerce Department's list of companies associated with human rights violations. It appears the people running CES will not let anyone on the list take part in their show.
The largest drone-related booth was for Autel Robotics. The company has been around for several years but often gets overshadowed by DJI. Over the last few years, their drones have improved and are starting to hold their own with the likes of DJI and Skydio.
Like DJI, Autel Robotics offers various drones to suit all types of customers, from small EVO Nanos costing a couple of hundred dollars to the Dragonfish, which will set you back six figures.
New additions at CES2023 included two drone-in-a-box systems and a new EVO series drone. The most exciting to me was a brand new addition to the EVO series of folding drones. Released to the public on the first day of CES, Autel Robotics presented the EVO Max 4T. This portable drone (similar in size to a Mavic series drone) included a wide-angle camera, thermal camera, 8K 10X zoom camera, and laser range finder, all on the same drone!
Skydio didn't have a display booth in the big halls like Autel Robotics, but they were present. During the show, CES presents numerous awards to exhibitors and presenters that stand out amongst their peers. Skydio's latest software update, Skydio Scout, was selected as an honoree for a CES2023 Innovation Award in the Drones & Advanced Air Mobility category.
The Scout update allows the operator to fly at a set distance and height from either the Skydio Enterprise Controller or the Skydio Beacon while on the move — all without manually operating the drone.
Sony was also present with their Airpeak drone and a new charging station. While the bulk of their booth was dedicated to the PlayStation and other products, the drone still held its own. The Airpeak is the smallest drone capable of carrying Sony’s Alpha series camera making it ideal for cinematographers.
If you didn't have a chance to attend CES, these were the most impressive drone products this year. There are several more drone-related shows and conferences throughout the rest of the year. Many of them, like the Comm UAV Expo, focus solely on drones. Check your calendar and see if you can attend one of them. You won't be disappointed if you do. I hope to see you all at one of the upcoming events. Until then, stay safe out there, and happy flying!
Article Written by David Daly
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