3D Robotics, a company that until now produced mainly high-end drones, now introduces an affordable drone that can fly autonomously to a large extent, and can make nice video shots. 3D Robotics Solo has a starting price of 1,000 dollars, the version with 3-axis gimbal for camera stabilization costs 1400 Dollar. For that money you get the drone, a battery and a controller that works with any Android or iOS phone for real-time video playback.
The drone is designed to make photo and video recordings from the air in conjunction with a GoPro camera. Contrary to DJI’ Phantom drones, the Solo provides the ability to control the GoPro camera using an app for smartphones in real time. While adjusting the drone in the air you see start a live HD video feed, you can record and stop and adjust the settings of the GoPro in real time. DJI drones don’t have such control of GoPro cameras, DJI offers these options only on their drones with a built-in camera. Until now, the quality of DJI’s own cameras, however, where inferior to that of the recent Hero GoPro Hero 3 and 4 models. With the advent of the recently announced Phantom 3, this may however change.
However, the unique selling point of the Solo is not the hardware of the drone itself, but the smart autopilot which 3D Robotics has built. The Solo can rise and land automatically with one press of a button. Additionally, the drone offers various modes like ‘cable cam’. In this mode, you give the included app a start and an end point, after which the drone travels the route automatically, and the gimbal allows the GoPro camera stay focused at some point, or just automatically changes the viewing direction. It is also possible to manually move the camera in any direction, without influencing the flight direction of the drone.
The ‘selfie’ mode allows the drone to fly from you or towards you, while ensuring that the camera remains targeted on you. In the ‘orbit mode’, the drone flies in a circle around an object, while the camera continues stays focused on the subject. Finally, there is a ‘follow’ mode, which automatically follows the drone remote.
3D Robotics Solo Drone will be available in the US market in May, the rest of the world will follow in June and July. European prices have not yet been announced.