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3D Robotics' new drone Solo comes without integrated camera

14 April 2015

3D Robotics has announced a new drone, the Solo, which does not have an integrated camera - instead users could add their own GoPro to the unit.

However, unlike other models that allowed users to use a GoPro, the Solo does not require buyers to buy and install an expensive add-on kit in order to get a first-person perspective from the camera when in flight.

That was a significant change, and would readily appeal to pilots who appreciated the flexibility of using a GoPro on a drone for one shot, and strapping the same camera onto a bike helmet for the next.

The drone draws power from dual Linux-based computers (one in the drone, one in the remote control), and an integrated 3-axis gimbal steadied aerial footage, and could be used with current GoPro models. In addition to streaming video, the gimbal fed power to the GoPro, so one could be sure that it would not run out of power mid-flight.

The Solo comes with a number of safety features, including automatic take-off and landing, return to home, and planned flight paths via GPS. The operating range was about a half-mile, and it could fly for about 20 minutes with a camera mounted.

The Solo would go on sale in May for $999.

According to Chris Anderson, chief 3D Robotics, the new Solo drone was more like an autonomous flying camera dolly - a drone that flew itself as much as possible so the user could focus on capturing the footage reported.

It was even capable of performing Hollywood-style camera moves at the push of a button.

According to Anderson, 3D Robotics envisioned this as the moment when the drone stopped being simply a gadget one bought and became an expandable platform where developers coded new programs and apps-photographic or otherwise.

Solo carried several flying aids to make it easier for newbies to pilot the drone, and to allow experienced pilots to put their attention elsewhere. The drone can take off, land, and return home at the push of a button and it featured a pause button that 3DR compared to an emergency airbrake.

If one got into trouble, the drone would hold its position with only a push of the button rather than careening into a lake. One could also quickly set up a geofence that Solo could not leave - useful for first-time fliers to prevent it from drifting too far away.

its smart battery monitored how much charge was left and would warn users before Solo lacked enough battery life to return to base.

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