CES 2016 Highlights: Obstacle Avoiding Yuneec Typhoon H Stole the Show

There’s no arguing that drone enthusiasts are more than willing to spend their savings on an show-stopping piece of equipment, and while that may be necessary in some cases, Chinese drone manufacturers aren’t as convinced. Their most recent hexacopter, the Typhoon H, boasts sense-and-avoid technology, six rotors, fully-retractable landing gear as well as a 360-degree gimbal camera. All this for $1,800.

Initially, Intel demoed this technology in an expensive prototype that didn’t catch the audience’s attention. However, for under $2,000, the Yuneec Typhoon H drone is well worth taking a closer look at. During Intel’s CES keynote, Brian Krzanich demonstrated the capabilities of the Typhoon H. He cleverly maneuvered the drone, which, to the audience’s delight, flawlessly navigated obstacle courses and avoided falling trees. So, let’s see what this drone is capable of doing.

Typhoon H Key-Features & Specifications

Drone enthusiasts look for several things when picking out a drone. Until recently, the DJI Phantom 3 was the drone to buy, both in terms of reliability, ease-of-use, power and low-maintenance requirements. Simply put, the Phantom captures breathtaking footage and generally encounters little to no problems. The professional version is priced at $1,250 and boasts a full 4k camera. DJI’s higher end drones (such as the Inspire One) sell for approximately $2,800. But the Typhoon H may finally prove to be the worthy contender that finally dethrones DJI as the lead drone manufacturer.

Much like DJI’s Inspire One, Yuneec’s Typhoon H has carbon fiber retractable landing gear and a 360-degree camera, but instead of only 4 rotors, it boasts six. According to Yuneec, the six rotors contribute to better drone stability and ensure that the aircraft can still land even in the event that one or two motors are lost. Its failsafe feature will ensure that the Typhoon H remains stable and lands even in case of motor damage.

Of course, DJI also features a six-rotor aircraft, however, it is nowhere near the price range of the Typhoon H (with a retail price of $3,400, the S900 may be a distant dream for some drone enthusiasts).

Higher-end models already feature certain safety standards that aren’t normally featured in drones that fit into the price category that the Typhoon H has been announced in. Geofencing, for instance, no-fly zones, dynamic and low-battery return to home are just some of these features.

Sense-and-avoid Technology

Perhaps one of the most attractive features of the Typhoon H is its sonar sensor technology, which ensures that the sleek drone doesn’t run into large obstacles. The sensor technology, alongside an additional sensor module located underneath the drone, allows users to fly the Typhoon H indoors even without GPS assistance.

Another great thing about the Typhoon H is the fact that it allows additional components to be installed for an even better experience. Currently, in addition to the proximity sensor it already features, the Typhoon H can also house Intel’s RealSense camera, which can further improve its avoidance capabilities.

Because of the Typhoon H’s modular build, Intel’s RealSense cameras are exceptionally efficient. They can be mounted just above the camera and ensure that this consumer drone surpasses the basic technology that’s already built in. Basically, the Typhoon H can dodge smaller objects too.

While this technology ensures that your precious drone automatically dodges large obstacles it comes across, it also comes with the added bonus of granting the aircraft additional lift, so that you can attach sophisticated camera equipment without having to fear that the drone can’t properly operate.

Here are some other specs you may be interested in:

  • Wingspan: 16.1 Inches
  • Maximum flight time: 22 minutes
  • Maximum video resolution: 4k
  • Maximum Operating range: 299 feet
  • Still Camera Resolution: 12 MP
  • Of Rotors: 6
  • Remote Control System
  • Body and rotor material: Carbon fiber
  • Foldable
  • Maximum Ascent Speed: 5m/s
  • Maximum Flying Altitude: 400 meters
  • Maximum Speed: 10.0 m/s

Yuneec Typhoon H: Strong Features

  • The Typhoon H is extremely lightweight and easy to carry. In fact, it can easily fit into a large backpack once the props are taken off and the arms are down (dimensions: 12.1×10.6×10 inches).
  • The controller allows users to prepare autonomous flight plans, use waypoints, see important flight details and even follow the user by using the controller as a tracking target.
  • The Typhoon H also boasts an impressive suite of autonomous features, including Orbit, Point of Interest, Curved Cable and Journey. Curiously enough, these autonomous features are arguably more refined than the current features that DJI drones currently have.
  • When it comes to video quality, the camera on the Typhoon H is capable of shooting 12 MP pictures as well as recording 4K HD video. Its retractable landing gear allows unobstructed photo and video capture.

Yuneec Typhoon H: Downsides

  • One downside to the Typhoon H is the fact that it doesn’t allow Bind and Fly controlling (for those unfamiliar with the term, certain drones are compatible with a wide variety of drone controllers so that multiple drones can be operated via the same controller simultaneously). Instead, the Typhoon H features a 7-inch, touch-screen display Android-based ST16 controller that allows the drone user to experience a first person view from the camera.

Yuneec Typhoon H: the Verdict

According to Yu Tian, Yuneec’s CEO, the team’s mission was to design a drone that was capable of offering consumers an unmatched creative opportunity that is financially accessible and high-quality.

In this sense, one of Yuneec’s main goas, Tian continued, was to redefine the prices that consumers should expect to pay for a drone that boasts so many of the professional features that were, not so long ago, inaccessible in this particular price range.

In fact, there is currently no other drone in the same price range that compares to Yuneec’s Typhoon H in terms of value, capability and professional features.

Though Yuneec hasn’t discussed an official release date, the drone is expected to be released within the second quarter of 2016.

About the author: Ben Sheppard is owner of Spider Aerial Filming who offers professional aerial filming with the use of drones. Interesting fact, Ben is the only person to have filmed inside of Buckingham Palace using a drone (as far as we know!).