Modular PlexiDrone homes in on aerial photography
With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last week granting exemptions for drone use in film production, we are guessing this won't be the last time we cover an unmanned aerial vehicle promising fresh new ways of capturing footage from above. The team behind the PlexiDrone really couldn't have timed its run any better, looking to shake things up with a snap-together drone capable of lugging a range of camera equipment along for the ride.
According to DreamQii, the robotics company behind the PlexiDrone, its pieces can be snapped together and prepared for flight in one minute. Much like the DJI Phantom quadcopter, the PlexiDrone features a mount on its underside to attach your video camera. Unlike the DJI Phantom, however, which is designed specifically to carry a GoPro action cam, the PlexiDrone mount is customizable and can support any camera under 1 kg (2.2 lb). Suggestions include a GoPro, the 360º BublCam and even just your trusty ol' point and shoot.
The PlexiDrone is piloted with an iOS or Android mobile device and has retractable landing gear, which the company says will avoid errant pads obscuring your otherwise flawless shots. The GPS Follow Me function will appeal to action sports enthusiasts, though isn't a new feature in itself. Pairing the vehicle with a mobile device sees it track you from behind as you ski, snowboard, cycle or jog. The Iris+, HEXO+ and Air Dog are some other drones with this same capability, indicating that GPS tracking is becoming something of a standard among photography-focused aerial drones.
One thing we haven't come across before is the PlexiDrone's Swarm feature. If you happen to have a number of the drones on hand, Swarm allows you to control them through the one mobile device and shoot the same scene from a variety of angles. In our experience, trying to control just the one drone throws up enough of a challenge, but hey, some are better at multi-tasking than others.
The 5,000 mAh battery provides a flight time between 15 and 35 minutes, while range extends to 1,000 m (3,280 ft). The PlexiDrone also sports a sensor at the front designed to detect objects within a proximity of 3 m (10 ft) to help prevent collisions.
With an Indiegogo campaign underway to fund production, DreamQii is offering the PlexiDrone for pledges of US$479. With a goal of $100,000 it has yielded a tick over $33,000 at the time of writing. If everything goes as planned, it hopes to start shipping out the drones in March 2015.
You can see the PlexiDrone in action in the pitch video below.