Magnetically-connected Snap drone pops apart on crash landings

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The Snap drone is designed to fly – and to fly apart(Credit: Vantage Robotics)

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Children of the 1970s may recall Kenner's Smash-Up Derby set, in which two toy cars flew into pieces when they crashed into each other – the neat thing was, they could then just be snapped back together. Well, Vantage Robotics' Snap is sort of like the Smash-Up Derby of drones. The 4K camera-packin' quadcopter's main body is attached to the folding propeller assembly by magnets, allowing it to come off under impact without incurring any lasting damage.

The Snap's unique construction also makes it highly portable. Users can just pull off the main body, fold the props together, then stuff the whole thing into a backpack. Additionally, in transit and in flight, prop guards serve to both protect the propellers and to keep them from cutting into hapless bystanders.

The 2-axis gimbal-stabilized camera shoots video at 4K/30fps via an Sony Exmor IMX 377 1/2.3-inch sensor (slow-motion options are available at 1080p and 720p resolutions), along with 12-MP stills. Footage is recorded on an included onboard Micro SD card. Real-time video is streamed from the camera to the user's mobile device at 720p, allowing them to see what the drone sees.

Users can control the Snap in real time via an app on their iOS or Android smartphone/tablet, plus they can instruct it to autonomously perform various preprogrammed maneuvers, or to track along with them by homing in on their phone's signal. When being remotely-controlled, the drone has a Wi-Fi range of 150 meters (492 ft) – that can be boosted to 1,500 meters (4,921 ft), however, if an optional range extender is used.

The 500-gram (17.6-oz) quadcopter's 2,500-mAh, 11.1-volt lithium-polymer battery pack delivers a claimed 20 minutes of flight time per charge. Other features include GPS-aided navigation, a Return-Home function, and an ultrasonic ground sensor. Future updates may include interchangeable modules that allow for obstacle avoidance, or unlimited range via cellular connectivity.

The Snap drone can be preordered now, for US$895 – the planned retail price is $1,295. You can see it in action, in the video below.

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