Believe it or not, the future’s here. We’re quantifying our bodies using technology, have smartphones that can do anything and, yes, we can even buy robots to do our bidding. Drones in particular are an interesting case: whereas they originally took the form of military surveillance devices, we’re now snapping them up off store shelves to take, well, selfies. Here are five new drones that you’ll actually be able to buy, perfect for videoing action sports or taking stills from above a pickup basketball game.
This successful Kickstarter raised $1,306,920 of its original $50,000 goal to crowdfund a ready-to-fly, six-wing drone that can be programmed to follow you with a GoPro camera sans pilot. Using an iOS or Android smartphone to set several flight parameters, you can choose the HEXO+ Drone’s distance and position relative to the subject, all while traveling up to 45 miles per hour. The batteries only last 15 minutes, but it’s a great option for aerial photography stabilized by on-board sensors.
Nixie wearable drone
Whereas many drones require some planning, the Nixie flyable camera is perfect for spur-of-the-moment photography. Still in development, the idea is that you’ll be able to wear it like a watch on your wrist, then fold it out to activate the drone. It will follow you, and can even be controlled from your smartphone. Of course, you won’t necessarily be able to expect professional-quality photos—but it sure beats an arm’s length selfie.
Parrot AR.Drone 3.0 Bebop
Parrot, the company who helped put drones in people’s garages a few years ago, released their newest quadcopter model recently. The relatively small drone features automatically stabilized flight and, most importantly, a 14-megapixel video/still camera with a 180-degree fisheye lens that helps stabilize the picture by eliminating sway. You can easily pilot it from a first-person perspective using a smartphone, which connects to the Bebop through a wireless network it broadcasts. If you’re feeling lazy, you can also plot a path using GPS flight map controls that it’ll follow on its own. Oh, and you can (eventually) even connect virtual reality headsets to the unit. It’s expected to cost around $300 when it comes out soon.
This drone doesn’t just follow you with a camera, it can fly ahead of you, to your side, whatever. In doing so, it can video record you for up to 15 minutes and even create 3D maps of terrain it flies over. The IRIS+ drone’s on-board GPS also allows it to follow a flight path you can draw using an Android tablet or a computer. The on-board operating system is also Android, meaning that you can expect hobbyists to create some cool new apps for the drone in the future.
Sensefly eBee Drone
This $25,000 drone has more in common with military-style UAVs than it does with quadcopters people fly in city parks. The Sensefly eBee is super light, portable and can even take off from your hand. While it’s in-flight, it’s controlled by artificial intelligence that can turn a rookie pilot into an ace. The best part is that it has a professional-quality, 16-megapixel camera on board that creates the best amateur aerial photography available to date, at least commercially. Using it, it can create topographical maps, perfect for surveying unfamiliar territory.