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Best drones 2018 - Tech Advisor

Drones are undeniably cool, but unless you have the necessary know-how making an informed purchasing decision is virtually impossible - there are so many options, from cheap quadcopters to expensive professional drones for which you'll probably need to justify spending that much on a 'toy'.

If money is going to factor heavily in your buying decision, you should also check out our guide to the best cheap drones . If you're more interested in having the best drone we've some options below.

There are laws on flying drones, though, so read up on the rules for flying drones in the UK and also where you're allowed to fly .

Your Buying Guide for the Best Drones in 2018

What is the difference between a drone and a quadcopter?

In the majority of cases you can think of a drone and a quadcopter as the same thing, though you'll often find more expensive devices are marketed as drones and cheaper toys as quadcopters.

In truth, a drone is any unmanned aerial vehicle, while a quadcopter is any drone controlled by four motors.

How much should I spend on a drone?

At the entry level, toy drones start at just £10, but you won’t get a camera unless you pay around £40-50. Increase your budget towards £100 and you should expect to get live video (first-person view) on your smartphone via a free app, or even a colour screen on the remote control.

None of these will shoot good-quality video, though. For that you will need to spend £300+.

Although some manufacturers claim a range of over 100m for cheap drones, it’s best to assume you’ll never get more than about 50m. By law in the UK, you must keep drone in your line of sight at all times, anyway.

Small and light drones will be blown around in the wind, so warm, windless days are the best times to fly, although the smallest micro drones can be flown indoors.

For bigger drones, such as DJI's Phantoms, expect flight times around 20-25 minutes and a range measured in miles, not metres. These use big batteries but are of course bigger and heavier than toy drones. Even the most expensive consumer drones (and we're talking £2,000) don't fly for longer than 30 minutes.

Spares - and the availability of spares - are essential

You will crash your drone and you will break things, usually propellers. Almost all drones come with a full set of spare rotors, but as two rotate anti-clockwise and the other pair clockwise, you’ve got only two spares for each pair of spindles.

Check first if spare parts are easy to obtain for a particular drone, and also their prices.

Cameras

Not all drones come with cameras. You don’t need a camera, since you should always have the drone in your line of sight while flying it. And even if a drone has a camera, it may not offer FPV (First Person View, a real-time video stream) which you need in order to fly it without line-of-sight.

At the cheaper end of the price scale you’ll be lucky to get even 720p (1280x720) video, but if you want a drone for aerial video go for at least 1080p (1920x1080). Bear in mind that - as ever - you can't trust specs alone. Read our reviews to find out how good each drone's camera is.

However, you’ll only get great quality footage if you buy a drone with a gimbal. This is a stabilised mount for the camera which keeps it steady when the drone tilts or moves around. Parrot's Bebop 2 has a fixed wide-angle camera that does a decent job without a gimbal, but the quality from DJI's drones is generally noticeably better.

Some drones record video directly to a microSD card but others record from the remote control, or even over the air to a smartphone. Direct recording is usually more reliable and better quality as the video doesn't have to be transmitted before being recorded.

Also check out our best drone photography tips.

... Source: www.techadvisor.co.uk

A DJI Bug Exposed Drone Photos and User Data - WIRED

of the most popular quadcopters on the market, but its products have repeatedly drawn scrutiny from the United States government over privacy and security concerns. Most recently, the Department of Defense in May banned the purchase of consumer drones made by a handful of vendors, including DJI.

Now DJI has patched a problematic vulnerability in its cloud infrastructure that could have allowed an attacker to take over users' accounts and access private data like photos and videos taken during drone flights, a user's personal account information, and flight logs that include location data. A hacker could have even potentially accessed real-time drone location and a live camera feed during a flight.

The security firm Check Point discovered the issue and reported it in March through DJI's bug bounty program. Similar to the issue that resulted in this fall's massive Facebook breach , the researchers found that they could compromise the authentication tokens that allow DJI's users to move seamlessly between the company's various cloud offerings and stay logged in. In this setup—known as a single sign-on scheme—an active token is essentially the key to a user's entire account .

"This is a very deep vulnerability," says Oded Vanunu, head of products vulnerability research at Check Point. "We're drone fans and fans of DJI, but we want to bring awareness about account takeover vulnerabilities in big vendors' systems. In order to let users access different services without having to enter a username and password all the time, companies use one-time authentication to make a user token that's valid across everything. But that means we're living in an era where a targeted attack can become an extensive compromise."

Vanunu says that many of DJI's product security protections are very strong, but its ecosystem of services and third-party apps—meant to expand the functionality of its drones—left room for potential intrusions.

The Check Point researchers found two bugs that worked together to create the account takeover vulnerability. First, some DJI sites implemented the single sign-on scheme OAuth in a way that could allow an attacker to easily query for information about a user and their authentication token. But an attacker would still need a special cookie to use this for full account takeovers. Enter the second flaw, in DJI's customer forums platform, which would allow an attacker to craft a malicious but legitimate DJI link that could automatically steal victims' authentication cookies. And since DJI's customer forums are very popular and active, the researchers say it wouldn't be difficult to distribute one of the malicious links through the forums and trick people into clicking.

Using these issues in tandem, an attacker could identify victims and gain information about them, steal the cookie needed to complete the authentication, log into their own DJI account, and then swap in a victim's token and cookie values so the attacker takes on the persona of the victim and suddenly has full access to their account.

DJI said in a statement that the findings "understandably raised several questions about DJI’s data security." The company noted, though, that it classifies the flaw as "high risk—low probability," because "the user would have to be logged into their DJI account while clicking on a specially-planted malicious link in the DJI Forum." DJI says it doesn't see evidence that the flaw was ever exploited.

It took months for DJI to resolve the issues, and the researchers say that the company didn't just push simple fixes. Instead, Check Point's testing shows that DJI fundamentally reworked some elements of how its systems manage trust and user authentication to fix the bugs the researchers found, while also improving security more deeply.

In light of its problems with the US government and other entities, DJI has worked to bolster its security reputation through initiatives...

Source: www.wired.com

Skydio's R1 is the self-flying camera (drone) we've all been waiting for - TNW

Skydio’s R1 quadcopter is one of the most interesting gadgets of 2018 . I spent some time with a review unit and, even after falling in love with it, I’m still not sure what to call it.

Describing the R1 as a “drone” is like calling the iPhone a “rectangle.” Both terms are correct, but neither are really accurate. The R1 is an autonomous robot. No, it’s not fully-autonomous , but if you’re expecting a quadcopter that can fly itself without your help: you will not be disappointed.

The R1’s big selling point is that it’s not just self-flying, it’s a “self-flying camera.” It mostly delivers in that department. I was a bit shocked to learn it doesn’t take still images, but once I spent some time with a review unit it made more sense.

This isn’t a toy or the evolution of the selfie stick or something “cute” like that. Its potential is probably better described as “your own personal film crew” than “a selfie drone.”

The R1 has an onboard Nvidia computer that processes images from 13 cameras mounted on the device’s body. Through the use of computer vision , it navigates its environment in the same way a self-driving car would. It can avoid obstacles, follow a target, and capture stable footage even under less-than-optimal conditions.

The short way to put that is: it uses AI to fly itself.

It doesn’t come with a remote control. The Skydio app does have some limited controls, you can rotate it, move it closer to or further from a subject, and change the height it hovers at. But if you try to run it into a tree or make it slam into the ground, it’ll defy you.

And that’s a good thing. Its instinct for self-preservation means you won’t destroy an expensive gadget that I can only describe as “sexy.”

Let’s get into some specs before we dive too deep:

Drone:

  • Style: quadcopter
  • Size: 13”x16”x2”
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Battery: 2x — 16 minutes each
  • Top Speed: 25 mph
  • Ceiling: 65 feet
  • Communication: GPS, Wifi
  • Navigation: 12x navigation cameras, computer vision

Main Camera:

  • Resolution: 4k, 30fps / 1080p, 30, 60fps
  • Sensor: Sony IMX377 — 1/2.3″
  • FOV: 150°
  • Storage: 64GB onboard, 1.5 hrs @ 4K, 4.5 hrs @ 1080p30
  • Stabilization: 2 axis mechanical gimbal, 1 axis flight control

Computer:

  • GPU: 256-core Nvidia Jetson
  • CPU: Quad-core 64-bit ARM
  • RAM: 4GB

Skydio’s literature says you shouldn’t operate the R1 near power lines or thin branches. The company says its cameras may not be able to see those kind of tiny, moving objects and could result in damage to the device. Skydio also says you shouldn’t use it in very windy weather.

During my testing I accidentally broke both of those rules. I was so excited to test the R1 that I ended up walking past several trees with tiny branches and a couple of sets of power lines within a few minutes of putting it in the air. Since it was in “follow” mode, it zoomed right along behind me. Worse, the weather conspired against me and, as you’ll see in my videos, the wind whipped up a frenzy that should’ve had me grounding the R1.

Luckily for me, the R1 handled these conditions – which, again, you shouldn’t operate one in – without a single hitch. In subsequent flights, under the proper conditions, it’s continued to function perfectly.

Note: the videos used in this review were filmed under less-than-optimal wind conditions which caused them to be slightly blurrier than average footage from the R1, keep that in mind as they still turned out pretty good compared to any other drone footage I’ve seen.

It’s designed to operate in sunny weather (so the cameras can see) and low wind, but it does have a gimbal to keep the 4K video camera steady during flight. I was consistently impressed with the footage it took, no...

Source: thenextweb.com









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