Drones

Atlas Erida lightweight drone is built to stay airborne longer

Atlas Erida lightweight drone ...
Erida takes off automatically
Erida takes off automatically
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The Erida Gen. B can be controlled through a number of modes on a connected app
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The Erida Gen. B can be controlled through a number of modes on a connected app
The drone folds to fit in an optional hard case
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The drone folds to fit in an optional hard case
Erida is compatible with GoPro and other action cameras
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Erida is compatible with GoPro and other action cameras
Erida's body is all lightweight carbon fiber
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Erida's body is all lightweight carbon fiber
Batteries are swappable
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Batteries are swappable
Erida is a tricopter, unlike competing quadcopters
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Erida is a tricopter, unlike competing quadcopters
Erida is a tricopter, unlike competing quadcopters
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Erida is a tricopter, unlike competing quadcopters
Underside view
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Underside view
Erida folds up to be more portable
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Erida folds up to be more portable
Being transported via hard shell backpack
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Being transported via hard shell backpack
Erida takes off automatically
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Erida takes off automatically
Erida takes off automatically
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Erida takes off automatically
Live video stream via connected app
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Live video stream via connected app
Erida automatically follows a subject
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Erida automatically follows a subject
A flight path can be set in the app, including changes in shooting mode
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A flight path can be set in the app, including changes in shooting mode
Companion Pebble smartwatch app
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Companion Pebble smartwatch app

In the drone photography world, names like Parrot and DJI (maker of the Phantom series) are the closest things to a gold standard at the moment. However, a Latvian startup is promising to deliver a smartphone-controlled, lightweight carbon fiber drone that improves on battery life by as much as 40 percent.

The Atlas Erida Gen. B also competes with more automated newcomers like the Lily, which automatically starts up when a user simply hurls it in the air, and the AirDog that follows and films a user. The Erida follows an automated start-up process that requires no precarious tossing. Instead, it simply starts hovering, performs a self-check and then waits for its pilot to choose from one of seven basic flight modes via a connected mobile app.

Using an on-board GoPro or other compatible action camera, the Erida's pre-set modes include staying focused on the user and shooting you while circling above, holding a hovering position while continuing to focus on a subject, and manually programming a viewpoint by setting a height and distance from the subject. You can map out a flight plan for the Erida, selecting which modes it will use along the way, and also take control of the drone using on-screen virtual joysticks and your connected device's accelerometer.

The Erida Gen. B can be controlled through a number of modes on a connected app
The Erida Gen. B can be controlled through a number of modes on a connected app

What sets Erida apart from the growing batch of drones designed with aerial photographers and novice pilots in mind are a few key specs, most notably its weight. At only 0.9 kg (2 lb), it is roughly half as heavy as the AirDog, thanks to its carbon fiber construction and the fact that Erida is a tricopter rather than a quadcopter like most of its competitors.

Being lighter also allows the Erida to claim up to 35 minutes of flight time off each battery charge cycle, whereas most other photography-minded drones struggle to exceed 20-25 minutes per charge.

Batteries are swappable
Batteries are swappable

Open-source software, swappable batteries (seen above) and an optional long-range module that allows for the drone to stay in touch up to 1.5 km (0.93 miles) away (standard model range is 300 meters) are also claimed advantages that help sell Erida as the user-friendliest of the photo drones.

Now comes the all-important healthy note of skepticism, however, that we would be remiss to omit for any product that so far only exists in an early prototype form and on a slick Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign page. While the concept sounds great and the prototype (that's the Atlas Erida Gen. A, which is what is actually shown in the promotional videos) appears to work pretty well in this short video, there are still potential pitfalls in the final stages of development and mass production to be overcome or avoided.

Should all go as planned for the Atlas Erida, manufacturing will begin in March 2016, with backers receiving the drones starting in June.

While the Erida Gen.B is planned to sell at an eventual retail price of "above $1,100," Indiegogo backers can reserve one for as little as US$499, including free worldwide shipping and a rechargeable battery. There's a dizzying array of other support levels you can come in at that will earn you extra accessories like a hard-shell case, GoPro camera and more.

The Indiegogo campaign has been live for 12 days as of this writing and has so far raised just shy of 10 percent of its $85,000 fixed funding goal, which means that if that minimum amount isn't raised, the company gets none of the money pledged. Fortunately, there's still 49 days left in the campaign.

See more in the pitch video below.

Source: Indiegogo

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