GAME OF DRONES

The mar­ket is boom­ing for these

Business Traveler (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Craig Bright

Drones have swarmed the mar­ket in re­cent years, and there’s now a drone to suit ev­ery type of con­sumer: would-be film­mak­ers can cap­ture stun­ning panoramic videos, mak­ing them ex­cel­lent hik­ing and ad­ven­ture com­pan­ions; sports en­thu­si­asts are tracked by slimmed-down ma­chines de­signed for speed and agility; while drone rac­ing has be­come so pop­u­lar that in 2016 Dubai hosted the World Drone Prix with a prize pool of $1 mil­lion.

In the world of avi­a­tion, how­ever, the emer­gence of drones has been a lit­tle less wel­come. Nu­mer­ous air­ports, from Gatwick to Dubai In­ter­na­tional, have en­coun­tered dis­rup­tions from fliers op­er­at­ing drones within re­stricted airspace, and last year the Bri­tish pi­lots as­so­ci­a­tion BALPA, cit­ing safety con­cerns from po­ten­tial col­li­sions, called on the UK govern­ment to crack down on the use of drones near air­ports. Other Euro­pean na­tions, in­clud­ing France and the Nether­lands, have taken to train­ing ea­gles to hunt and bring down drones that stray too close to air­fields.

On the other hand, last year Ed­mon­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port be­gan us­ing de­fen­sive drones to com­bat the prob­lem posed by men­ac­ing birds, us­ing “Ro­birds” de­vel­oped by Clear Flight So­lu­tions to scare birds away from run­ways.

While drones were once a rel­a­tively niche sec­tor, they have now be­come one of the tech­nol­ogy world’s most com­pet­i­tive, with the pack lead­ers al­most all based in China. (From our list, Par­rot is the only non-Chi­nese brand to make the cut). In­tense mar­ket com­pet­i­tive­ness has even seen high-pro­file com­pa­nies such as GoPro, renowned for its durable ac­tion cam­eras, be­ing forced to an­nounce the clo­sure of its en­tire Karma drone di­vi­sion af­ter strug­gling to gain a foothold.

With so many op­tions avail­able these days, know­ing which drone to buy can be a daunt­ing task. We’ve se­lected six of the top per­form­ers to help you with your de­ci­sion.

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