Drones have made it possible for indie filmmakers to inexpensively capture stunning aerial images, but how can they be improved upon? Make them super portable and collapsible, while infusing new swarm technology. Meet the PlexiDrone.
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There is plenty to get excited about with DreamQii's new drone, currently on Indiegogo. First of all, its modular, snap-together design. The great thing about this is that, of course, you can disassemble it and fit every piece inside the PlexiPack (which is the size of a standard backpack) for easy transport. But this also means that if the drone does crash and get damaged, you don't have to pay for an entirely new one. DreamQii sells replacement components separately for just such an occasion, which may end up saving you quite a bit of money in the long run.
Furthermore, the clip mechanism allows you to mount a variety of different cameras, from GoPros to smaller DSLRs, and you can customize your payload as you wish. However, it can only carry about 2.2 lbs (1 kg), so that disqualifies users of larger DSLRs, like, say, the 5D Mark III, whose body alone may not be quite 2 lbs, but once you add lenses and other gadgets, would definitely be too much for the PlexiDrone to handle.
Another great feature is the PlexiDrone's intelligent technology. By using its iOS and Android waypoint navigation, its built in GPS allows you to select "follow me" on whichever mobile device you're using, and the drone will, well, follow you. Also, its new "swarm" technology allows you to use multiple drones at once to capture a single shot. However, if you prefer to use an RC controller, you can also do that as well.
Also, you don't have to worry if you're shooting in a place where the Wi-Fi signal is weak or nonexistent, because the PlexiDrone comes equipped with their network bridge called PlexiHub, which works via Bluetooth to increase your signal range, as well as operate multiple drones at once. However, the range is only a little over half a mile (1 km), but DreamQii says that they're ready for non-line-of-sight flight (say that 10 times fast).
And if you're concerned about the legal implications of using a drone, PlexiDrone assures users that they've obtained the necessary approvals regarding commercial flying and will offer their customers the ability to fill out their online form to apply for a personal certificate to fly.
Here's an early flight test of the PlexiDrone.
Here's a quick breakdown of all of the PlexiDrone's features:
- GPS Follow Me
- Swarming capability
- Mobile interface
- Clear 360˚ view
- Obstacle avoidance
- Developer friendly
- Social & Speaks:
- Customizable payload
- Size: 15 x 15 x 5 inches
- Weight: 2.9 lbs
- Thrust: 7 lbs
- Flight Time: 15 - 35 mins
- Max Speed: 43.4 mph
- Battery: interchangeable 11.1 volt 5000mAh, 3S liPo
- Hub Range: 3000 ft
- Proximity: Up to 21 foot ultrasonic range (customizable)
- Landing Gear: Full sway 90˚ retractable gear
- Flying Modes: Standard RC/Waypoint/GPS Hold and Follow Me
- App Control: Available for free on iOS and Android
- Notifications: Integrated audio with a customizable voice
- Gimbal: Custom tuned ultra stable brushless gimbal
If you just want to see how this thing handles in the air, the starter pack for a PlexiDrone will run you $699, but if you want to start filming now, the PlexiDrone Pro pack, which comes with a gimbal, will cost $769. You can also choose from several bundles, which include their customized gimbals, PlexiPacks, and even multiple PlexiDrones if you're interested in using the swarm feature right away. Delivery is set for March 2015. Check out their Indiegogo campaign if you're interested in pre-ordering, or visit the PlexiDrone website.