Sorry for the delay in posting my recap. I recorded just over half an hour of interview with Brian Grant from Yuneec at CES. It took longer than expected to go through it and write up the highlights. I focused mainly on the Typhoon H and H520. Not much on the new cameras as they were covered elsewhere.
Yuneec at CES 2017
Brian Grant, Yuneec USA Inc.
Yuneec at CES 2017
Brian Grant, Yuneec USA Inc.
- Warranty just increased to 1 year, retroactive to current owners.
- Customer service moving to 24/7 soon.
- Unlike DJI, Yuneec is not force feeding the "buy a new one each year" model. They intend to support current aircraft and keep developing for it. This also allows the 3rd party marketplace to flourish.
- Commercial aircraft. Won't be ready for the market for about 4 months (as of Jan 2017).
- Bigger aircraft – 520mm instead of 480mm. Bigger motors, longer wings, bigger props. Flies longer. Only about an inch wider in diameter.
- Payloads are interchangeable with Typhoon H; all three cameras are usable on Typhoon H and H520. Uses the ST16 controller with the same flight characteristics.
- Comes with RealSense – that's not an option. Flies longer and quieter.
- New higher capacity battery. Will NOT be compatible with the Typhoon H.
- Probably have some more tweaks in the ST16 that makes it more appropriate for commercial inspection, log recordings, etc.
- H520 comes with an SDK. SDK will probably not work with the Typhoon H right away. There needs to be more separation between the prosumer and commercial platforms. In the future, there might be a scaled down version of the SDK for the Typhoon H, or an app that can be loaded onto the ST16.
- Don't yet know about coming with a backpack or not. The person buying it is probably going to want to put it in an hard case. Opportunity for partners to build packages of aircraft, accessories and support.
- Won't be available in conventional sales channels, i.e. Best Buy, Amazon, etc. Only certain approved dealers will sell it.
- Price probably in the $2500 – 3000 range. Will include full 1 year replacement contract. Still developing service programs that go above and beyond normal warranty. You will probably have to get some sort of service agreement, since this is aimed at professionals. Looking at the automotive world for ideas on how the manufacturer supports the dealers.
- May plan to have a certain level in stock in different places around the country so you can always get a replacement device within two days.
- Re: firmware and flight issues: "I challenge anybody to claim they fly more than me. I have 10 of these (Typhoon H) in my garage. I have to do white glove demos, I have to take them from California, update the firmware, give them to somebody, sit there for 2 – 3 hours and train them on it, so when they go to do their magazine review, they know how to operate it. People claim 'Oh, I've flown a Phantom for two weeks, I know how to operate these things.' It's not. It's like getting in a Cadillac or Ferrari. Yeah, they're cars and the principle is the same but it's a different experience."
- Brian flies Yuneecs more than just about anyone. He knows how they work. Reading the directions and understanding how the device operates is important.
- "I've never bricked mine. I've never had a bad firmware update. Have you re-paired your ST16? Have you recalibrated the compass, gimbal and accelerometer?"
- When you compass calibrate, take off the camera. The camera is not meant to jerk around like it does when you calibrate with it on. It's just more metal and more potential to mess with the compass calibration itself.
- If you're not comfortable with it, don't be afraid to ask. Be nervous, because that means you care and you're concerned about it. It's not just about crashing an expensive piece of equipment, it's about hurting somebody.
- Recommendations: take off the camera during compass calibration. Learn how to fly it. Concentrate on aerodynamics, takeoff, landing. What do the modes do? What is Smart Mode? What is Angle Mode? What is Home Mode? These things are not getting any less complicated. There is a real learning curve to these aircraft.
- Try flying with no camera. Learn how to really fly unassisted. When things go wrong, you then know how to fly manually by line of sight.
- It's not getting any easier. Just because you have 10 hours flying one of those (gestured to DJI, which was right next to Yuneec's booth), doesn't mean you're going to be able to immediately fly one of these. It's a lot like flying an airplane. You get in a Cessna, it's different than getting into a Piper.
- Probably going to release a version 2 at the NAB show. Version 2 is very close to being done.
- Will also be able to use the current CGO cameras and will fly for 40 minutes in high winds.
- Future system. Yuneec came from manned electric aviation (they had one of their large fixed wing manned electric aircraft hanging over their booth). These (Typhoon, H520, H920) are our present. The Valet is the future.
- The Valet sits on a wireless charging landing pad.
- It's combining all of the latest technology in collision avoidance. By next year, LTE will be everywhere and 5G will start being rolled out, communicating with everything – the chips in your shirt, your FitBit, your home security system.
- "At your house, a motion-detecting sensor goes off. The Valet takes off, there's a light on front, it goes and looks at where that thing happened." It will have dual optics, probably IR.
- It will talk to all of your smart devices.
- When your kid is walking to school, it will follow them, take a picture of them walking into school, with a time stamp, to show that he made it.
- The Valet, right now, is more to spark a conversation than becoming a real device. It's your Amazon Echo, your FitBit, your smartphone, your GPS, your home security all in one. It can fly in front of you and monitor your surroundings and maybe see a heat source and find that someone is hiding in a bush waiting to mug you.
- It can monitor your heart rate with a chip in your clothes, and if something goes awry, like your heart stops or you take off your shirt, it would alert you and ask if something's wrong. Then if you don't respond, maybe it will alert the authorities and then stay there to help them find you, like a pet wouldn't leave your side.
- The conversation is just starting. Where can we go with this? No product to announce. What will be possible in the future? That's the story we're always telling: the past, the present and the future.
- Now has the Q500 and Typhoon H. Will add the H520.
- 1" CGO sensor is in the works. Also, a small zoom version is in the works, possibly called CGO-3Z. Possibly a 10X optical zoom.
- Dedicated FPV view has been requested. Brian, as a salesperson, operator and demonstrator, has requested that feature. ST16 has plenty of extra channels, so it's possible to build a 3rd party FPV through the SDK. There's a powered USB port that can be used to power external devices.