Small, palm-sized quadcopters have a certain appeal within the increasingly cramped drone market. They're portable, low-risk and are generally an inexpensive way for rookie pilots to learn the ropes. But these pint-sized robots have their shortcomings. In developing its new Micro Drone 3.0, UK company Extreme Fliers has set out to work features typically found in high-end drones into a smaller package, namely HD video stabilized by a tiny gimbal and compatibility with Google cardboard VR for first-person view flying.
Extreme Fliers is no stranger to the drone game. Its preceding Micro Drone 2.0 was designed as a low-cost beginner quadcopter capable of grabbing acceptable captures at 640p. But the latest iteration is promising quite a bit more.
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Launched today on Indiegogo, the Micro Drone 3.0 shoots video at 720x1280 at 30 fps stabilized by what the company claims to be the world's smallest gimbal. The palm-sized Zano drone we covered late last year also shoots at 720p and promises promises digital image stabilization, like that seen in more expensive Parrot Bepop. But as for steadying shots by way of minuscule robotic arms, the Micro Drone 3.0 appears to be flying solo.
The available sample footage looks to be halfway decent, but it will be interesting to see how it handles various lighting conditions and how steady the shots remain in practice. To aid these ambitions further, the company has developed special algorithms aimed at allowing the 71 g (2.5 oz) drone to handle rough winds of up to 45 km/h (28 mph).
The Micro Drone 3.0 can be controlled with a radio controller or an iOS or Android device by way of a companion app. The handy thing here is that it can stream video to the screen of the device, a feature that's typical of more expensive models but not always present in micro drones (with a few exceptions). But looking to really tap into the first-person view flying phenomenon, which has catalyzed a drone racing movement, the Micro Drone 3.0 is designed to work with Google Cardboard VR. Users can therefore slap on a headset to better immerse themselves in the experience.
And for those looking to pimp out their rides, there's also the option of 3D printing your own custom frames. Early backers receive a selection of ready-to-print CAD files such as wasps or a dragons, while the company promises to bring out new 3D printable accessories every month. Or you could of course create your own.
Flight time is eight minutes with the battery recharged via USB, while video can be stored on an onboard micro SD card. The drone measures 50 mm (1.96 in) in height and 145 mm (5.7 in) in diameter. Early pledges of US$125 are available at the time of writing, with shipping slated for November if the campaign runs as planned.
You can see the drone in action in the promotional video below.