Drones are becoming an increasingly mass-market product. Once primarily reserved for R.C. enthusiasts, cheaper and more advanced technology has made the hobby infinitely more accessible to the masses. Today, drones have gotten even smarter making activities such as professional videography and photography accessible to anyone with a pair of pointer fingers, thumbs, and palms. However, make sure you’re not in France flying over restricted areas (More on that in a moment).
3D Robotics, a company co-founded by former Editor and Chief of Wired Chris Anderson, has just announced the Solo. They are coining this new quadcopter as the world’s first “Smart Drone.” What takes this drone beyond the ordinary are its dual integrated computers that power the drone and its controller. The combination of these computers and its Linux-based open-source platform open up incredible opportunities.
Learning how to fly a drone is challenging in and of itself. Learning how to pilot with precision requires time, dedication, and self-mastery. Controlling the drone and camera simultaneous for photography and videography purposes presents an even greater challenge to new pilots. This is where the Solo’s software is poised to change the way we capture aerial video forever, and it’s just the beginning.
The controller integrates with an App that offer what are known as “Smart Shots” (See above). The selfie smart shot enables you to create an epic cinematic selfie as the drone focuses in on a specific point and then quickly zooms away and upward with you as the center point. (See the video below)
The cable cam uses the drone’s GPS chip to fly from point A to point B according to coordinates that you specify using the integrated smartphone/tablet App. By flying in a direct line, the videographer is then able to focus solely on capturing the perfect shot. Finally, Orbit mode does exactly what you would imagine. Simply select an object and the drone will rotate around that object according to the diameter that you specify.
The computers that power the technology are quite powerful as well with a “1 GHz ARM Cortex-A9-powered Linux computer.” The current feature-set is only the beginning. 3D Robotics has made the software open source with hopes that developers will further create apps that will reshape the way we capture aerial video. Just take a look at this drool-worthy feature of the Solo:
The drone comes with a number of standard high-end drone features such as auto take-off and land, GPS hold, and “return to home.” The drone can fly for 20 minutes with the camera and 25 minutes without. Additionally, the range of the drone is up to a half mile. The Solo will be available starting May 31st at 400 retail Best Buy locations for $999 dollars.
This announcements comes on the cusp of another incredible drone break-through. Initially reported by Les Echo, France has created one drone to “destroy” them all. (Figuratively, of course)
After a number of incidences where drones appeared to be flying maliciously, the country has created a drone that can identify and pin-point a pilot within 1 minute of identifying an infringing drone. Once located, the drone will take a picture of the perpetrator and alert the authorities. (I assume the picture-taking only applies to pilots out in the open and that it is not going to fly through a window to capture the picture of an indoor pilot. Then again, France created this incredibly intelligent drone as a result of a few unknown and apparently malicious drone flights.)
Regardless, this is incredible technology showing the promising (or terrifying) future of drones. Now I just need to decide whether I want an anti-drone or a Solo for my next pet.
What are your thoughts on these new drones? Do they fascinate you or scare you? Let us know in the comments below.