Second-gen folding, flying selfie-cam gets more drone-like
Drones are capable of some pretty impressive cinematography and stunts – but some people just want to snap selfies from the sky. Two years ago, start-up ZeroZero Robotics launched the Hover Camera, a device that was more flying camera than drone, and now the Hover 2 is about to take flight on Kickstarter, aiming to keep it simple while opening up the options to be more drone-like.
Key to the Hover 2's simplicity is how portable it is. There's no big briefcase to lug around – instead the Hover 2 just folds in half to form a book-sized package, measuring 230 x 45 x 172 mm (9 x 1.7 x 6.7 in). Launching it is a matter of gently releasing it, and once airborne, control is handed over to either the companion app or a small remote device called the Palm Pilot. To "land" users can just pluck it out of the air.
That's not an action recommended for most drones, but the Hover 2's grab-and-go design comes down to the carbon fiber cages encasing the propellers. That also makes it safe for indoor flights, and allows the drone to take closer-up shots without worry of injury or damage.
The camera can shoot 4K video and snap 12-megapixel stills, using a slightly bigger sensor than the previous model. While the first Hover Camera didn't really have a gimbal system to speak of, the new one does, which should make for more stable video.
The same kinds of track and follow flight modes are available, but this time the drone is a bit smarter. There's a range of pre-programmed flight paths that are apparently inspired by classic film techniques, and an Omni-Follow mode that can track subjects from the front, back, side or switch between the three. AutoFrame lets you select preset shots, which the drone will then position and capture automatically.
Maybe the most interesting new development is what ZeroZero calls the Optical Radar. This stereo sensor pops up from the top of the Hover 2 and swivels to give the drone 360-degree obstacle detection and avoidance.
While the baseline flight time isn't specified, it's probably in the ballpark of its predecessor's 10 minutes. The range is also somewhat lacking, topping out at just 100 m (328 ft). While that might be fine for taking a quick selfie or two, the Hover 2 has what's called Blast Off Mode. Pair the drone with a (separately-purchased) Blast Off Remote, slide on some landing gear and replace the cage with special prop guards, and the drone can now fly for up to 23 minutes, at a distance of up to 5 km (3 mi).
ZeroZero Robotics has just launched the Hover 2 through Kickstarter, with a US$100,000 goal. Super Early Bird pledges start at $399 for the base kit, $549 with the Palm Pilot, or $749 for the whole Blast Off kit and kaboodle. If all goes to plan, the Hover 2 should be ready to grab-and-go in April 2019.
Check out the campaign video below.