"Steve" is a ground-going equivalent to aerial camera drones
While quadcopters may provide photographers with a great way of getting aerial shots, sometimes a ground-based approach to the subject is more what's required. That's why Indian startup Vanora Robots has developed a four-wheeled omnidirectional camera platform known simply as Steve.
The idea behind Steve is that it will allow a camera to get into places where the user themselves can't fit, isn't comfortable going, or will be in the way. This means, for instance, that it could go part-way into narrow caves, beneath overhanging underbrush, close to unpredictable wildlife, or even up on a stage during a live performance.
Its articulated suspension system allows it to crawl over relatively rough terrain, plus because its wheels are omnidirectional, it's able to move from side to side and pivot 360 degrees on the spot. Users pilot the device in real time via an included radio remote control unit.
A third-party DSLR, actioncam, or other camera – along with accessories such as a gimbal or tripod head – can be mounted to a plate on top of the vehicle. Alternatively, the camera itself can instead be secured to a remotely-tiltable platform inside of Steve (a hole in the front allows the lens to peek out). Because the vehicle has no camera of its own, if users wish to see what things look like from its point of view, their own camera has to be Wi-Fi-enabled.
Power is provided by one or more removable batteries, with the full complement delivering a claimed five hours of runtime.
Should you be interested, Steve is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. A pledge of £499 (about US$643) will get you one, when and if it reaches production. The planned retail price is £999 ($1,287).
Its inventor, Krishnan Nambiar, tells us if that if the project is successful, a second more feature-packed version may follow in the middle of next year. Potential backers might also want to check out the similar, successfully-Kickstarted Turtle Rover.
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