There's a few of them around already and plenty more on the way, but you do feel the whole 360-degree video camera thing is just getting started. Still, that's no reason you can't fit the technology to a flying robot to try and take VR content creation to the next level. The Exo360 drone carries five 4K cameras that gather aerial footage in all directions, before stitching the clips together into 360-degree video for immersive viewing on popular VR headsets.
Queen B Robotics, the makers of the Exo360 drone, bill the aircraft as the world's first 360 drone, and if it does progress from crowdfunding campaign to real-world product that may well be the case. Last month we covered the Janus 360 drone which carries 10 cameras to capture 360-degree video, but details on pricing and availability are yet to be offered up. There's also a possibility that GoPro's long-awaited Karma drone will have 360-degree shooting capabilities.
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The Exo360 drone is equipped with four cameras facing in each direction along with one underneath that faces downwards. These shoot 4K video at 30 fps and spherical images at 60 megapixels. Once a flight is complete and the drone comes down to land, it can be made to compile the footage into a 360-degree video that can then be watched on VR headsets including Oculus Rift and Samsung Gear, along with mobile and desktop machines.
Flight time is rated at 18 minutes with a 3 km (1.86 mi) range and the drone can either be piloted by a dedicated controller or via a companion smartphone app. The latter option enables a bunch of autonomous flight functions that include automatically following a subject, orbiting a point of interest, returning home, swooping in and out for dramatic effect along with smooth dolly shots.
Multiple way points can also be entered to set the drone off on a programmed flight path. When the drone is flying in autonomous mode, the pilot can switch between any of the five camera views to gain different vantage points. This vision can be streamed to a set of VR goggles or alternatively to a phone or tablet connected to the controller by way of a HDMI cable.
The drone comes with 256 GB worth of onboard storage, a swappable battery and weighs a hefty 1.8 kg (3.9 lb). For reference, the DJI Phantom 4 weighs 1.38 kg (3.04 lb).
Through Indiegogo, Queen B Robotics is looking to raise funds to enter commercial production. It is well on the way, having flown passed its US$25,000 goal and attracting more than $28,000 in funds at the time of writing. Early pledges of $1399 are available, which will put you in line for an Exo360 with 4K abilities, while a cheaper 1080p/30fps version is priced at $1,099. Shipping is slated for December 2016 if all goes to plan.
You can hear from the drone's creators in the video below.
Source: Queen B Robotics