Launched just two months ago, 3D Robotics' Iris+ quadcopter has one big feature that separates it from the company's base Iris drone – it features a Follow Me function, which allows it to automatically fly along above a moving ground-based GPS-enabled Android device. Now, 3DR has added the same feature to its more utilitarian, heavy-duty X8 platform. The resulting X8+ quadcopter can not only autonomously get tracking shots of its biking, running or skiing user, but it can also be outfitted with a variety of cameras or other devices.

The Iris+ is optimized to carry a GoPro Hero actioncam, which is fine for many users – as are the house-brand HD cameras included on drones such as the DJI Phantom and Inspire 1. More serious videographers, however, might want to use their own high-end compact camcorder or point-and-shoot. With its ability to lift payloads weighing up to 800 grams (1.8 lb), the X8+ is designed to carry just such rigs.

Using the Follow Me app on their Android mobile device, users can set parameters such as the distance and angle that the drone will maintain relative to them. Once the X8+ is in flight, it will automatically keep pace with them, keeping them centered within the shot by panning and tilting the camera via a motorized gimbal mount.

Users can see things from its point of view in real time using 3DR's new FPV (first-person view) video feed kit, although it's an optional extra.

Described as being like "a power drill that you can outfit with different bits," the quadcopter's aluminum frame can also be equipped with other user-supplied tools, allowing it to be used for applications such as mapping, point cloud-based surveying, and 3D modeling. It can even be outfitted with a magnetized cargo mount, for the delivery of small items.

When it's not in use, its propeller arms and legs are able to fold back for transit or storage.

The X8+ can be piloted in real time using an included radio remote control, or it can autonomously follow flight paths plotted on its free mission-planning software. Its flight time ranges up to around 15 minutes, depending on what it's carrying.

It's available now, priced at US$1,350. The FPV kit is an additional $350.

Source: 3D Robotics

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