HEXO+ drone autonomously follows the action, for under $500
If you watch almost any video promoting a consumer drone, chances are you'll see the aircraft flying along above a moving motorbike rider, snowboarder or other fast-moving athlete. It makes for some impressive aerial footage of the person, but also requires a fair bit of piloting skill. Additionally, if you buy one of those drones, you'll end up shooting other people doing those things – what if you want footage of yourself? Well, that's where the HEXO+ hexacopter comes in. It autonomously flies above its user, shooting video of them as they do their thing.
The copter communicates with the user's iOS or Android smartphone using the MAVLink protocol. It also features a 2-axis gimbal mount for a GoPro actioncam, which can either be supplied by the user or included in a package deal.
The user starts by utilizing an included app to indicate the perspective from which they wish to be filmed – such as from the front/to the right/X degrees up/from Y feet away. Once those settings are sent through to the drone, it automatically takes off and hovers in position, waiting for the user to start moving.
Once they do, it flies along with them, autonomously moving around to maintain the desired framing. It "knows" where the user is mainly by keeping track of the GPS coordinates and position of their phone, although it also utilizes predictive algorithms to anticipate their trajectory.
If the user wishes, they can also use the app or an RC controller to fly it manually. It does not have an obstacle avoidance system, however, so it has to be used in open areas free of things like branches and power lines when in autonomous mode.
The current HEXO+ prototype has a top speed of 70 km/h (44 mph), a flight time of 15 minutes per charge of its battery, and can maintain a shooting distance of up to 50 meters (164 ft) from its user. Additionally, its six propeller arms can be folded back and the props removed, for easier transport.
Its designers are currently raising production funds on Kickstarter, and have already surpassed their funding goal. A pledge of US$499 will get you one (without a GoPro), when and if it's ready to go.
More information is available in the pitch video below.
Sources: HEXO+, Kickstarter
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This is a potentially dangerous device and could do harm to the whole drone industry if it gets produced,
Perhaps if it was modified to track the target of the photo shoot with someone else as the pilot then that would be safe and probably get a better shot anyway!
One hopes that the more the tendency for that to happen, the more impetus there will be to develop systems hardened to such eventualities. It might be fun for some sad individuals to watch a drone such as this fall from the sky because it doesn't know where it is, or some autonomous road vehicle turn into a side road that isn't where it thinks it is, but can the same be said for messing up the navigation and docking of an LNG carrier or cruise liner? Causing car crashes is bad enough, but potentially destroying a whole LNG terminal or putting a cruise liner on the rocks, both with potentially great loss of life, is an entirely different matter.
I am told that one can purchase GPS jammers on Ebay.
Think of the jobs behind, and fun uses for this, it's a real economy boosting invention...
So why all the asinine comments and naysayers shooting it down..? ... No wonder the world is so slow in bringing the future to the here and now.
We have the technology, we have the ability, but we're always held back by under educated morons, with ignorant opinions and ideas, - Yet very loud mouths, gigantic egos, and they seem to be helplessly compelled to have their say and do their best to make sure that, no one, is enjoying their life, in any other way that the naysayers deem acceptable.
In a nutshell... Haters gotta hate.. they just can't help it. Keep on innovating, inventing, challenging, and changing this world... It won't improve by itself.
[Ed. note – You can see our article on the AirDog here: http://www.gizmag.com/airdog-auto-follow-action-sports-drone/32576/ ]