AirDog and HEXO+ : These Flying Puppies Follow you Everywhere
Go-Pro’s and Drone technology has made it super easy for regular or professional adventure sports enthusiasts to film incredible footage. Now two campaigns on Kickstarter are seeking pledges towards making a Personal Autonomous Drone. These Drones are programmed to track the subject continually without any pilot directing it. It can take the Go-Pro experience to a whole new level.
In the first glance, it would just appear like a plastic kids toy. But once you power it on, you will have a kickass drone which will follow you while you do some badass stunts. The device is portable and sturdy. The makers claim that the AirDog can face any challenge, like pelting rain, freezing temps, massive waves. Basically, it’s unstoppable.
The Craft is controlled by the AIRLEASH (aptly named) which is a wrist worn controller which tells the AIRDOG where the person it is filming is. All the user needs to adjust their altitude and distance preferences and press “Take off,” they are good to go. The drone performs in-flight calculations to correct its flying pattern, and points the camera at the user wearing AirLeash. The AirLeash is waterproof so you can easily take it into a wave.
It gives a lot smoother aerial shots than a remote operated drone. It uses a Go-Pro camera on 2-axis Gyro stabilized gimbal so you can be rest assured of the footage quality. When not using it like a drone, fold it up, and you have a Steadicam.
If you are a control freak and don’t prefer a fully automatic, there is also an optional manual remote control. You can also use a combination of Auto and Manual modes to get that perfect shot. The drone uses GPS signals to map out its environment thereby preventing itself from running into trees and other obstacles.
The bundled in smartphone app provides professional adjustments to the flight path of the Drone. The app can be used from the iPhone as well as an Android phone. With it, you can control the distance, height, and angle.
You don’t even need to worry about running out of battery mid shoot and falling off grid into unreachable spots. The craft finds its way back to the takeoff spot and lands there. The landing is completely automatic.
Specs of the AirDog:
• Durable and weather resistant construction
• 10-20 minutes flight time depending on flight speed
• Interchangeable 14.8 V, 4000mAh, LiPo batteries
• Wind resistance up to 28 knots (14 m/s)
• Top speed, 40 mph (software limited)
• AirLeash range up to 1000 feet (300m)
• Operational ceiling, 3000 meters above sea level
• Weight 3.08 lbs (1.4 kg). 3.96 lbs (1.8 kg) with battery
AirDog is attracting a lot of attention on Kickstarter, as in the morning the project had 15 backers but by the time of posting it had reached 166. It also reached halfway to its target of USD $ 200,000/- standing at $120,000 with 39 more days to go.
The Hexo+ looks more like a full-fledged professional camera drone with 6 propellers. It is controlled using a smartphone app. Unlike the AirDog there is no wearable tracker (AirLeash), which might be the biggest issue with it.
It is faster that the AirDog as its top speed is at 70 Kilometers per hour for the duration of 15 minutes. HEXO+ could therefore be beneficial for high speed sports enthusiast like Skiers, mountain bikers, snowboarders and motocross athletes.
This project has also received massive support as it stood at above a whooping $300,000 of its pledging goal of $50,000 with 29 more days to go. One of the reasons for this surge is that they have promised to deliver live video feedback if they crossed $250,000.
Armed with GPS sensors and command module in the smart phone, the drone is capable of constant, totally autonomous following of its subject. A smartphone dependency of the Hexo+ to communicate might cause it some issues. They use the MAVLINK protocol which helps to smoothen the communication between the phone, the drone and the camera gimbal.
Specs of the HEXO+:
• Dimensions: 62 x 52 x 12 cm
•Total weight: 980 g – 2.2 lbs Drone
•Hexacopter design with 30° tilt propellers
• Speed range: up to 70 kmh – 45mph
•Flight time: 15 min with 3S battery, gimbal and GoPro attached
• Filming distance range: up to 50 meters
•Auto take-off and auto landing
• Trajectory anticipation
•Video target locking*
•GPS + onboard sensor position tracking
•Processor with MAVLINK protocol
• High performance 2D brushless gimbal
• Easy attach/detach from drone body for transportation
• GoPro mount
Both these products look promising and will probably start a whole new revolution in action sport shooting like the Go-Pro did. It is also great for athletes who want to observe and review their performance. With the serious interest shown by Kickstarter backers for both these projects, it’s evident that pretty soon we can see them flying all over the place.