GoPro Announces Staff Cuts Following Karma RecallAction Camera company GoPro has announced that it plans to reduce its staff by approximately 15% (equivalent to 200 full-time employees) and reduce its reliance on contractors. On top of this, they have also revealed their plans to dissolve the entertainment division. Tony Bates, the company’s president, will also be leaving at the end of 2016. Stating that his three years at the helm were “an incredible experience”, and that GoPro “has a solid leadership team deeply focussed on its core business and profitability”, the split seems to be amicable. It’s no secret that the company has been underperforming, suffering huge losses in its third quarter, the pressure is on to prove the viability of their action cameras as a mass-market product and not something squarely aimed at the extreme sports crowd. This has become more of a struggle for GoPro as smartphones are increasingly able to provide the quality and convenience that consumers desire. All of this has come out following the ill-fated release of the company’s Karma drone which was totally recalled (all 2,500 sold) due to units “falling from the sky”. Despite this setback, GoPro is adamant that UAVs are a cornerstone of their future strategy.
FLIR Systems Purchases UAV FirmIn an interesting move, thermographic sensor manufacturer FLIR Systems made an announcement earlier this week, stating that it has acquired a Norwegian micro-UAV company, Prox Dynamics. The takeover is reported to have cost $134m and will integrate Prox Dynamics into FLIR’s UAV Systems business, specifically under the umbrella of Surveillance. In their statement regarding the acquisition a representative for FLIR outlined the company’s aim to aid in the development of Prox Dynamics' ‘PD-100 Black Hornet’ micro-UAV by improving the existing range, cost, and overall performance. In other FLIR news, they have just released a thermal sensor for smartphones - an affordable solution that broadens their portfolio and offers an affordable (if slightly less powerful) thermographic solution.
Apple Uses Drones to Improve MappingSince cosying up with DJI for the launch of the Phantom 4 quadcopter, Apple is now reportedly looking to use drones to help improve its mapping capabilities. Insiders are speculating that this has been kick-started by the Cupertino-based tech giant’s desire to compete with Google Maps. Apple is currently amassing a team of robotics and data experts to utilise drones which will capture map information quicker than its existing method of ground-based road mapping. According to sources within to company, Apple intends to use drones to complete tasks such as examining street signs, note any changes to existing roads and report back if areas are disrupted by construction. This data will be fed back to Apple’s specialist teams who can update the Maps app in almost real-time offering users up-to-the-minute information. In March this year, the FAA granted Apple permission to "operate an unmanned aircraft system to conduct data collection, photography, and videography," which pretty much confirms these plans although there hasn’t been much in the way of official acknowledgement.
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