3D Robotics gets cameras flying with world’s first smart drone

Drones are everywhere these days, with many used as remote control quad-copters that may as well be called the next generation toy, but what if you want to get some video work done?

This week, a company is landing on Australian shores to do just that, flying to our side of the world to show off a new style of automated flying machine that has been developed for people who plan to capture photos and video, and not just impress their friends with their super cool flying skills.

In fact, we’re told this drone has been specifically designed for people to get a photographer’s experience in a drone, because you obviously can’t strap wings to your arms and fly out to get that special shot, unless you want to end up like the bad part of a Wile E. Coyote cartoon.


Instead of trying that bizarrely dangerous animated experience, 3D Robotics — also known as “3DR” — has built an automated flying machine called the “Solo” with the typical four blades for vertical take off, as well as access to a GPS satellite guidance system to make flight, take-off, and landing smooth.

No camera is built specifically into this drone, but 3DR has linked up a 3-axis gimbal with GoPro’s Hero 3 and Hero 4 cameras, and even developed a bit of a link between the camera you’re using and the way of controlling the drone.

This connection allows the drone to be flown while imagery and video is captured, keeping the GoPro camera charged by plugging it directly into the drone itself.


If you need that charge, you’ll find up to 20 minutes of flight time is possible with the camera plugged into the Solo drone, with five minutes more of juice available in the drone if you don’t need to plug it in.

WiFi range on this drone is up to 800 metres depending on where you take it, and there’s even a big controller included as part of the package to let you take control of the thing.


People who love to control things will likely find this to be one of the most exciting parts, with this offer more of a video game style take on things, incorporating a 1GHz processor and WiFi hub to keep the devices constantly talking to each other.

Computer assistance is also part of the control package, with “smart shots” part and parcel of what makes the 3DR Solo a “smart drone”, offering imagery and video modes that can track your location to grab selfies or follow shots.


An app will also be available if you prefer using that, not just offering control, but access to the camera to send back live video or capture it without so much thought.


Pricing, however, is a little more than some of the drones we usually see here, so if you’re keen to get a guided quad-copter to track your life for all to see on video, you’ll find this available for $1799.95 at Harvey Norman, Duty Free, and other select electronics retailers.

We do need to note, though, that you’ll need to bring your own GoPro Hero 3+ or Hero 4 camera for this, as it’s not included, and make sure it’s not a GoPro Session, because there’s no support for that newbie just yet.