When Airdog arrived on the scene in 2014, it was one of the first drones to offer auto-tracking technology, commonly known as follow-me mode. A suite of competitors have since worked this feature into models of their own, but the team at Airdog seems intent on playing to its strengths. The newly announced Airdog II keeps the follow-me tech as its centerpiece, while adding a few bells and whistles hoped to help it rise above its rivals.
The Airdog's successor bears a strong resemblance to the original, taking a quadcopter form with rotor arms that fold away for easier transport. Also like the original, the emphasis is on hands-free flying, so you won't need a remote control to fly it. Rather, the drone takes its cues from what the company calls an Airleash. This small, watch-sized device is strapped onto the user's arm, wrist or leg and connects to the drone via Bluetooth.
Users control takeoff and can make quick flight adjustments using buttons on the device, but the idea is that by and large, the drone trails and focuses on the leash as the user tears down the mountain, across the water and along the trails. Aimed squarely at adventure sports enthusiasts, the idea is to reduce hand controls to the bare minimum and have the drone autonomously capture all the action for you.
One new feature is collision avoidance, thanks to a built-in LIDAR sensor. This works with an air pressure sensor, accelerometer and GPS to track elevation changes and hopefully keep the drone from crashing into the ground as the user moves across uneven terrain.
Another is what the company calls 3D-Line Mode, which allows users to set custom waypoints for an automated flight path at different altitudes. This complements a set of preset flight modes designed to best capture different sports, such as Behind a Boat, Snow Park, Wake Cable and Trail, along with a scenic capture mode for landscapes.
There is also a redesigned gimbal, which works with a GoPro and features new dampening mounts that the company says should remove shakes and jitters and make for smoother shots. The drone itself has a flight time of between 10 and 20 minutes, which will depend on things like wind conditions and flight speed, which tops out at an impressive 45 mph (72 km/h). The Airleash is said to work up to a range of 500 feet (150 m).
The Airdog II is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign, where the makers are looking to raise US$250,000 to fund its production. Early pledges of $1,099 are available, which will have the drone sent your way in August 2017 if the campaign runs as planned.
You can check out the pitch video below.