Yuneec Typhoon H - The ability to sense and avoid objects in real time?

Since Intel own a chunk of Yuneec, its great to see some of their tech is being integrated with the upcoming typhoon H hexacopter set to be released later this year at a price point of £1200.

What sets the typhoon h apart from the rest is the ability for it to avoid obstacles in its path, which is particularly useful for using it as a follow me filming drone. The is done via ultrasonic sensors and a intel realsense camera. The demo videos at CES seems to show it to work, but after looking into the details of the Intel realsense camera it seems to work very similar to the Xbox kinect. And if you have ever used the kinect you will see it really struggles in direct sunlight as it uses near infrared to measure distance. Furthermore the demo at CES used a motion tracking system for the typhoon to know its exact location during the flight. I assume that the typhoon will largely use the visual object avoidance for indoor applications, and the ultrasonic sensors will be used outdoors (but the success of ultrasonic object avoidance in drones is yet to be shown). But this is all speculation since we have not gotten our hands on one yet.

Update: After looking into this it seems that the realsense camera is an add on unit not included in the standard Typhoon H, I could not see any details about it being included or not in the final product. So my guess it it was just for publicity at CES? If anyone has any more details let us know below!

Update 2: So the final version will only include ultrasonic sensors to avoid ‘large’ obstacles so the visual object avoidance was definitely just for show. Here is what the official specs say:

Innovative new safety features include ultrasonic proximity detection to assist in avoiding large obstacles, and a failsafe system which allows Typhoon H to remain stable and land if a motor should fail.

Otherwise its still great to see that the technology is moving in that direction, making drones smarter less likely to crash. Will be interesting to see what 3DR and DJI have to answer or this at a similar price point.

The other features of the hexacopter are fairly standard in terms of what you would expect from a filming drone nowadays, with a 4k camera and various flight modes to help framing your shots easier such as orbit, waypoint flights, dronie mode etc…

Here is a video overview of the Yuneec typhoon h at CES2016 by, although there is no mention of the obstacle avoidance in this specific video.