Follow me to the New Drones of CES

January 10, 2015 16:33 | By | Add a Comment

It was obvious, especially after the Christmas rush of new UAS sales. This is the next “in” technology. But is it technology or a toy? We look at the new offerings at CES after the break.

CES came prepared to blur those lines even further this year with early news showing signs of “Follow Me” and its ilk being the big selling point. 3D Robotics first popularized the idea of the drones following automatically (leashing if you will) as a promotional tool for their Iris line of quadcopters. Although this is more a software function than a hardware function, taking advantage of the users existing cell phone. (Click here for an article discussing how “easy” that function truly was<article to be posted>) This didn’t bring the sales but did set a new idea loose on the industry.

Like all development the minis came to us first, the Zano and the Nixie crowd funded and prize winning respectively.  While both offer FPV their intent is the for selfies. Built for a single purpose, fly away and take a picture of you. While these pack an impressive array of technologies they disconnect the user from any real control. Relying of automation for all or a majority of control through systems like tablet or phones. CES 2015 sees the consumer easy of these craft being combined with prosumer level products. GoPro hinted at a quadcopter with some follow me type function at the end of last year I hope to be seen at CES at some point. But so far we have seen the Hexo+ and the Airdog.

 

Hexo+: Little information has been revealed. Imagery shows it looks like a blacked out Walkera Tali H 500 with an extended nose to mount the gimbal further forward.  But for now we know as much as Engadget, ” The six sets of rotors give it a more aggressive appearance, and the blue front props add a splash of color. Of course, looks are one thing; another is seeing it do its job”

 

AirDog: Built by AirDog this thing is either called the AirDog or the Auto Follow drone for GoPro, but Ill stick to AirDog. This is truly the innovator of the leash systems if they deliver. A fold-able well armored quadcopter built for a purpose. Flying up to 40mph this quad is transmitter free in the traditional sense. A “Leash” unit replaces the transmitter. Fully waterproof and durable all basic flight and follow functions can be achieved from the leash. Bluetooth allows a smart phone to connect to the leash and enhance control. A comparable flight with an Iris would have required the transmitter, telemetry modem with usb to tablet, or usb to Bluetooth adapter with battery. It ends up being a lot of cumbersome equipment to tote and setup, especially in wet environments. The leash solves all of this. Downsides: 40mph is a decent speed but I expected more from something so specialized, with headwinds this would fall a little behind some motorsports. If this done is dedicated to being a flying action cam it should be capable of keeping up with all action. I would love to see that number higher. Biggest down side, batteries. A 5000mah 3s that is proprietary pushes this thing for “10-20 minutes.” Once again I would hope for such an impressively dedicated system that it would have more flight time, but I think this is a cost trade of as costs are already high on this system. Pros: Still fast, simple, durable, water resistant, super easy “leash”,  fold-able with front mounted gimbal.

Category: News, Reviews

About the Author ()

I am a Biologist working in Oil and Gas. Avid Drone/UAS enthusiast, pilot and ham radio operator.

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