The Time Best Inventions of 2023 list is out. And for folks entrenched in the drone industry, there’s no shortage of unique inventions that could make a huge impact on the drone industry — even those that aren’t explicitly a drone.
The annual list includes inventions from a wide range of categories, from healthcare to entertainment to sustainability. Picks are nominated by Time editors and correspondents around the world and are chosen based on factors including originality, efficacy, ambition, and impact. You can read the full Time Best Inventions of 2023 list here.
Here at The Drone Girl, we combed through all 200 inventions named by Time to find the eight Time Best Inventions of 2023 that are most notable for the drone industry:
Sony Alpha 7R V
The Sony Alpha 7R V is a full-frame mirrorless camera that stands out for its high-resolution 61MP sensor, fast and accurate autofocus, and excellent image quality in both low and high light conditions, driven by a dedicated AI processing unit.
Because the Alpha 7R V is trained to recognize and stably track body movements — even if the subject changes course — it could have significant implications for follow-me drones.
It probably goes without saying, but Sony has been a key player in the drone industry lately, especially given the relatively new launch of its Sony Airpeak S1 drone. That drone was specifically designed to fly cameras in the Sony Alpha camera lineup, including this Sony Alpha 7R V camera.
The Sony Alpha 7R V camera is already available to consumers now, though it’s not cheap. Expect to pay close to $4,000 to get your hands on one of these (and that’s for the body only, not including the lenses).
Not to be outdone, another camera maker, this time Canon, also swooped in on the list with its own powerful camera, the Canon MS-500. This long-range, ultra-high-sensitivity low-light camera is particularly compelling because it’s the world’s first ultra-high-sensitivity camera equipped with a SPAD sensor. It also features the world’s highest pixel count on its 1” Single Photon Avalanche Diode (SPAD) sensor of 3.2 megapixels.
The camera’s key applications are more as a surveillance and security camera, as it allows for color video capture of subjects several miles away, and even at night. While the $25,200 isn’t necessarily being marketed for drones, it could have a place in the drone industry (or at least inspire a similar product for drones).
After all, other drones like the Teal 2, which is a surveillance drones designed for military use, have also been targeting nighttime operations. In Teal’s case, nighttime capture is enabled thanks to the drone’s Teledyne FLIR Hadron 640R sensor. This provides end users with the highest resolution thermal imaging in a small (Group 1) form factor, optimized for nighttime operations.
Roland 50th Anniversary Concept Piano
This one is far from a drone, but go with me here. We picked the Roland 50th Anniversary Concept Piano because it actually features drones.
Yep, this piano of the future relies on flying drone speakers, which float above the piano to provide 360-degree sound. How much more of an excellent “drones for good” promotion can you expect than that?
Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen
Here’s another ‘go with me here’ situation. The Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen is a system that robotically assembles the salads and bowls at a rate of up to 500 of them an hour. Sweetgreen says that’s 50% faster than humans can.
The Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen system is currently in the trial phase, but co-founder and CEO Jonathan Neman said all new Sweetgreen outlets would eventually come with an Infinite Kitchen.
So why is this news so critical to drones? Avid Drone Girl readers will recall that Sweetgreen also made a big splash in the drone industry earlier this year when it announced a partnership with drone delivery company Zipline.
Back in March 2023, Sweetgreen and Zipline announced that they were working to use Zipline’s drones to deliver salads to customers. That news was announced in tandem with other major news out of Zipline: its Platform 2 (P2) platform. That platform is designed to make it easier for people (like Sweetgreen employees) to load drones, which can then be more efficiently delivered to customers.
The Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen could be the first step in tech-forward salad making, with drone delivery soon to come.
Nuview LiDAR Satellite Constellation
LiDAR and drones go hand-in-hand, which makes this pick from Time magazine all the more interesting. The Nuview LiDAR Satellite Constellation aims to solve situations where LiDAR doesn’t work: being able to see through thick covers of trees or in darkness.
With Nuview, 20 LiDAR satellites beam a laser pulse down to earth and measure the time it takes to return, allowing it to create a 3D image of the terrain. Nuview’s ambitions are big, saying it would be able to map the entire surface of the planet.
Nuview says its satellites won’t go live until 2025, and the drone industry should be watching.
3D modeling has been another huge component of the drone industry, and the NVIDIA Neuralangelo is aiming to make it even easier.
With this technology, something as simple as a smartphone camera is capable of taking a 2D video and turning it into a lifelike 3D replica, all the way down to details such as the smoothness of the marble.
NVIDIA says the tech will have major applications in fields such as filmmaking, robotics and game development. But it looks like drones might very well be one too.
Dedrone City-Wide Drone Detection
Much of these technologies promote more drones in more places, but Dedrone is a company looking to get drones out of places they shouldn’t be.
That includes the Time award-winning invention, Dedrone City-Wide Drone Detection. This software product effectively puts a virtual shield around a specific area. It uses a proprietary blend of signals from drones, including radio frequency, ADS-B data (also used in planes), and RemoteID beacons to detect drones in that area. And if it finds one, it can warn law enforcement within seconds if a drone has entered that designated airspace.
The product is already in use, with customers including Con Edison, Barcelona’s police force, and certain airports.
This one is a human-sized drone. The Ryse Recon takes off and lands vertically (as most drones do) and is specifically designed to carry humans.
The six-rotor drone is powered by AI and is simple to control (e.g. just press the “Land Now” button when you’re ready to get out of the air) with no drone pilot’s license needed. There are even flotation devices so you can land on water.
The company said it expects it to be available in the spring.
Did you comb through the Time Best Inventions of 2023? What other winners stood out to you? Leave a comment below!