A Vegas Drone Rodeo In The Rain

Just like last year, we paid a visit to the annual Drone Rodeo in the Nevada desert ahead of the first day of CES this year.

Unlike last year, though, the weather was horrible. As we arrived at the Clark County Shooting Complex (and no, drone shooting wasn’t on the program), it was already windy and miserably cold. After about ten minutes, it started raining. Unsurprisingly, drones don’t like rain and even though 3DR, DJI, Parrot and a number of other drone manufacturers were on hand, we barely saw any drones flying for the rest of the afternoon. I really hoped Parrot would fly its new Disco drone, but it wasn’t meant to be.

Instead, we headed inside and had a good chat with the organizer of the Rodeo and a couple of the vendors who were exhibiting inside the heated, welcoming tent the team had thankfully set up. Here is what we saw.

First off, we chatted with Drone Rodeo organizer Matt Sloan about this year’s event.

We then went on to talk to the makers of the Nixie drone, which bills itself as the “first wearable camera that can fly.” Nixie co-founder and COO Jelena Jovanovic from Nixie explains the company’s unconventional drone to us.

Drones and wearables apparently go together rather well. The FlyPro team built a follow-me drone that comes with a (large) smartwatch-like controller that allows you to control the drone using voice input.

And drones don’t have to be complicated. What if you could just add a motor and a controller to a paper airplane? That’s exactly what the PowerUp FPV paper airplane does — and it even allows you to use a smartphone and a virtual reality viewer to see your flight from the perspective of the paper airplane. The team just finished a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Just as we were about to leave, Parrot CEO Henri Seydoux also walked into the tent (only to find that his team had already fled the cold to head back into the warm embrace of Vegas’ casinos). So we grabbed him for a brief interview about the state of the drone industry.

And because we couldn’t experience it ourselves, here is what the drone race course would’ve looked like if it hadn’t rained…

CES Drone Rodeo track test. Simple layout, lots of room. Amazing location.

Posted by Marque Cornblatt on Monday, January 4, 2016

CES 2016