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These Underrated Drones Could Give The DJI Phantom A Run For Its Money

14 January 2016, 6:52 pm EST By Kyle Nofuente Tech Times
There's more to drones than DJI's Phantoms. These underrated drones could give the Chinese drone making company a run for their money especially with their more innovative, and personalized designs.  ( PowerUp Toys | YouTube )

If 2015 was supposed to be the year of the drone, then we ain't seen nothing yet.

Last week's CES 2016 gave us a sneak peek into the future of drones, and it looks like things are really about to take off in the coming months.

Despite the government cracking down on drones by mandating that all drone owners be registered in the Federal Aviation Administration's database, drones big and small are hitting the market in droves.

In fact, while the biggest and most popular drones will probably catch most of the attention (such as DJI's iconic Phantom line), 2016 might be the year small becomes the new big (especially since "nano drones" would be well out of the reach of the FAA).

These are our picks that may just give DJI a run for its money if it doesn't innovate further beyond its bestselling Phantom lineup of drones.

Mota JetJat Nano

The world's smallest drone can fit in the palm of the hand with some room still left to spare. It may be easy to miss because of its size, but your eyes will lock in on the Mota JetJat Nano drone once it starts pulling off some daredevil maneuvers.

Equipped a 2.4GHz wireless signal and 4-channel controller, the bite-sized drone that's barely bigger than a large paper clip is just like any other quadcopter. Due to its miniature size and nimble weight, however, we wouldn't suggest taking this baby up too high especially in bad weather. You may have a really hard time looking for it.

Ehang 184

From one extreme to another, a drone the size of the Ehang 184 would be tough to miss. Unlike the Mota JetJat Nano above, you won't be making any flips with the Ehang 184 but you will be flying in it.

A fully automated, "driverless" AAV (autonomous aerial vehicle), the Ehang 184 can carry a payload of one full-sized human being. Equipped with a 142-horsepower engine, the Ehang 184's eight rotors can take its passenger 11,000 feet up into the sky and cruise to a destination at 62 miles per hour.

But with a battery that can power the drone for only up to 23 minutes, passengers shouldn't expect to get too far in the Ehang 184.

Lily

The next stage of the selfie-ing and YouTubing one's life as an entire channel online will arrive when Lily hits the market.

The company that makes Lily says it's the easiest drone to set up because there is no set up required. All that Lily needs to get going is a quick toss in the air and that will signal the drone to get its four rotors moving.

In fact, Lily doesn't need you to control it all. There is no controller that comes in the package. Instead, Lily flies itself, using a tracking wrist piece, GPS and computer vision to follow its subject around even in water.

The Lily is waterproof and shoots up to 1080p video and 12-megapixel still photos. What's even cooler is that it not only follows its subject, but Lily can even lead to stay ahead of its subject as well as circle, zoom in, and zoom out to it, too.

PowerUp FPV

Another world's first coming out this year is the PowerUp FPV. It is the world's first and only paper airplane drone.

This is not like the paper airplanes we played with as kids that were made out of scratch paper, folded up and thrown into the air for a few seconds of hang time. The PowerUp FPV comes with a livestreaming camera and even its own head mounted display so pilots see what their advanced paper plane sees, too.

The PowerUp FPV can be controlled by tilting the head in the direction the pilot wants it to go or by using the accompanying "gamepad" app on a smartphone. It can even fly in an autopilot mode, too.

As the main body of the PowerUP FPV is made of paper, different designs can be created to allow for either more control or aerobatics. By partnering with Parrot, the makers of the Bebop drone, the PowerUP FPV has become quite a hit success on Kickstarter.

Disco

Speaking of Parrot (the next best known name in drones besides DJI), it's bringing Disco back into the mainstream.

Disco, of course, is the company's next drone and it is like no other. So far, we've grown accustomed to seeing drones equipped with motors and blades hovering in the sky. The Disco is different because it has none – it's a fixed-wing drone.

Like the Lily above, the Disco is simply thrown into the air and from there it takes off all on it's own. Like Parrot's Bebop, the Disco can be controlled with the Skycontroller or Flightplan app. Unlike the rest of Parrot's drone lineup, the disco can fly up to a speedy 50 miles per hour.

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