If you’ve ever found yourself bemoaning the relative dearth of viable personal UAV (or "drone") options but still find the idea of an eye in the sky alluring, then you may well be in luck, because UK-based gadget purveyor RED5 has unveiled the Spy Hawk: a remote-controlled plane which runs from a rechargeable battery and features a video camera to facilitate easy snooping from up above.
The Spy Hawk has a wingspan of 84 cm (33 inches), weighs 180 grams (6.3 oz) and is referred to as a "mini-glider" by RED5. For capturing video footage, there’s a 5 megapixel video camera on-board which beams a first person view, live video feed to a 3.5" LCD screen housed in the remote control transmitter unit. The rubberized remote control also has 4 GB SD card built-in, committing everything the diminutive spy plane sees to memory.
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The Spy Hawk even boasts an autopilot which the company state is capable of keeping the plane level with minimal effort, its built-in gyroscope causing automatic flap controls to compensate for errant gusts of wind, and thus allow a budding James Bond to concentrate on the actual spying.
However, though the 600 meter (roughly 2000 ft) range of the plane itself and 400 meter (1,300 ft) video feed range should be sufficient to make your neighbors consider a restraining order, Spy Hawk's espionage capabilities are limited somewhat by a reported 15-20 minutes average fly time from a full charge - a charge which takes around 40 minutes to complete. That said, such a flight time does compare favorably to similar gadgets, like the Swann Sky Eye RC Helicopter, which can only manage around eight minutes of fun before depleting its battery, and the A.R. Drone's 12 minutes of airborne surveillance.
The Spy Hawk is up for pre-order from RED5 now at a price of £250 (around US$388) with an estimated shipping date of early August. Though only UK and EU shipping is cited on the website, quotations for other locations are said to be available on request.
Check out the video below to see a bird's-eye view of the Spy Hawk in action.