GoPro's flat-folding Karma drone arrives in the skies
We heard talk of it at least as long ago as last May, and today GoPro has delivered – it's officially unveiled its Karma drone. The quadcopter's propeller arms and landing gear can be folded down so it can fit in an included backpack, and it utilizes a stock Hero4 or (just-released) Hero5 camera. It also features its own dedicated remote-control unit with an integrated touchscreen, so users won't have to press their phone or tablet into service.
Another clever feature of the Karma is its 3-axis camera stabilizer, which can be removed from the drone when it's not in flight, attached to the included Karma Grip, and then used as a motorized handheld camera stabilizer – think of it as GoPro's answer to the DJI Osmo.
The drone itself has a maximum speed of 35 mph (15 m/s), a radio control range of 3,280 ft (1,000 m), and can operate at a maximum altitude of 14,500 ft (4,500 m). Its 14.8V/5,100-mAh lithium-polymer battery allows for about 20 minutes of flight time per one-hour charge … so it's not quite up there with the 30-minute flight time of drones from DJI and others.
The Karma Remote control unit runs for four hours per charge, and displays the copter's point-of-view footage on a 720p screen. Along with controlling the flight of the drone, the unit also allows users to start and stop recording, and pan/tilt the camera as desired. Additionally, if other people want to watch the footage or even co-pilot the Karma, they can do so on their paired mobile device, using the upcoming Passenger app.
There isn't any word about commonly-seen features such as a Follow Me mode (in which the drone automatically flies along above the user) or the ability to follow predetermined flight paths, although the Karma can perform a variety of preprogrammed aerial moves to give videographers the "look" that they're seeking.
As of October 23rd, the Karma can be ordered in one of three bundles: a supply-your-own-camera package for US$799.99, a pack with an included Hero5 Black for $1,099.99, or a bundle with a smaller Hero5 Session camera for $999.99 (the latter of which which won't be available until early next year).
The Karma can be seen in action, in the video below.