Yuneec drops a racer and first-person flyer into refreshed drone lineup
Yuneec has turned up to this year's CES in Las Vegas with a refreshed drone lineup, setting its sights on two niche areas of hobbyist flight it is yet to really explore. Included is an aircraft designed specifically for aspiring drone racers, one for long-range first-person flight and a successor to the company's six-rotor Typhoon H camera drone.
The Typhoon H was introduced at CES two years ago and packed features commonly seen on so-called prosumer drones, with a 4K camera, automated flight modes and some degree of obstacle detection. What set it apart from competitors like DJI's Phantom drones was the retractable landing gear, which folds up and out of the way so the 360-degree rotating camera head can get clear shots in all directions – this feature really impressed us when we took the Typhoon H for a spin last year.
What we weren't so enthused by was the image quality from the camera itself, finding that although fairly sharp and clear, it showed noticeable signs of chromatic aberration, barrel distortion and pretty poor dynamic range. We'll have to wait until we get our hands on the newly announced Typhoon H Plus to see if these kinks have been ironed out but, on paper at least, the successor's camera does promise better performance.
It now shoots 4K video at 60 fps rather than 30 fps, and captures stills at 20 megapixels rather than 12.4, thanks to a new one-inch CMOS sensor that Yuneec says will make for better shots in low-light. The drone itself should also generate 40 percent less noise and, thanks to redesigned, larger frame, should stay stable in winds of up to 30 mph (48 km/h). Flight time stays the same at 25 minutes.
Alongside the Typhoon H Plus, Yuneec is showing off a couple of new additions to its lineup at CES. The smaller of the two is the compact FPV Racing Drone, which is billed as an introduction to drone racing and packs an integrated forward-facing camera so pilots can watch on from the aircraft's nose as they zoom around their living room in real-time.
The larger Firebird FPV drone is a fixed-wing aircraft in the same mold as the Disco drone from Parrot. These are kind of advanced remote-controlled airplanes that, like the FPV Racing Drone, stream the drone's perspective back to a connected smartphone app in real-time. It comes with basic flight modes that allow the pilot to control the Firebird manually, but as owners grow more comfortable, they can attempt acrobatic maneuvers like rolls, loops and flying upside down.
Yuneec is yet to provide information on the price and availability of the new drones, but as a guide, the original Typhoon H retailed for US$1,799 when it was launched in January 2016.
The video below gives an overview of the new Typhoon H Plus.