Sick of straining your arm to get that all-important above the crowd video angle? Here's a solution that will give you a true birds-eye view. Due to hit the market at the end of the year, FlyingLift is a remote controlled quadrocopter which can carry a conventional video camera of up too 500 grams in weight while beaming images back to the ground in real-time. The system consists of an electrically powered carbon fiber chopper, a backpack-mounted receiver unit, a hand-held controller and a set of video glasses which deliver what the camera sees to one eye while leaving the other eye free to follow the quadrocopter in flight.
Each of the four 13-inch propellers – along with the rectangular body – are made from carbon fiber in a design that's light, robust and promises quiet operation. Like some of the other impressive multi-prop configurations we've seen, the design is aimed at creating a stable platform for shooting video and shaking is further reduced by the swiveling camera cradle that sits directly below the body.
It's also designed to be easy to repair yourself – an important consideration given that a hard landing or two is very likely while learning to fly the thing... which is something you are certainly going to want to master before strapping on your precious camcorder.
The backpackable receiver unit has two antennas – one high-gain with a 60 degree open angle and a second that's omnidirectional – and the system switches automatically between the two to maintain the best signal. The receiver runs on a lithium polymer battery with a claimed five hour operating time between charges.
The control unit features a screen for flight data which indicates battery level and which antenna is working and the operating range is up to 300 m according to the manufacturers.
The final element of the system, the "Pirate Eye" monocular video glasses, deliver real time VGA (640x 480) video through one eye and UV protection for all the time you'll spend staring into the bright sky.
We haven't yet seen the system in flight, but the model on display at Photokina 2010 was transmitting video in real-time effectively and certainly looked the part.
The FlyingLift is due for release later in the year – we're awaiting pricing confirmation but don't expect it to be a budget stocking-stuffer.
Update: projected pricing for the FlyingLift system is Euro 10,000 (US$13,470 at time of publication). The company is currently seeking distributors outside of Hong Kong.