It's official, flying a drone is now so simple that a toddler could do it.
Though the above statement is both hilarious and terrifying at the same time, it's surely a sign of the times in which we live. Cameras costing as little as $500 can produce better, more cinematic imagery than the high-end digital cinema cameras of 10 years ago. Aerial videography, once a means of production reserved solely for those with high budgets, is now in the hands of the masses. In the words of Bob Dylan, "Oh the times they are a changin'."
With that said, drone flight is still a technical and challenging endeavor, one which requires hours upon hours of practice to achieve the smooth, controlled flyovers that we all know and love. But what if the process of flying a drone were simpler, more streamlined, and more automated — so much so that anybody, regardless of experience or skill level, could achieve precise aerial moves? That was the goal behind Ares, a new drone manufacturing startup. Based on their Kickstarter video, it's safe to say that they have achieved that lofty goal.
While I'm a huge fan of having manual control over things (I am a nitpicky filmmaker after all), the Ares drone strikes me as a product that will potentially make drone usage a part of our everyday lives, as it democratizes and simplifies the technology to a point where it can be used effectively by anybody who can afford it.
Here's an early prototype of the Ares taking off and landing after the flight path is drawn.
Video is no longer available: youtu.be/raMx2-EvTEg
The other major advancement that comes along with the Ares has to do with drone flight safety and abiding by FAA regulations. For starters, if you happen to draw a flight path through a no-fly zone, the app will let you know in no uncertain terms that you need to check yo-self before you wreck yo-self. It will even keep an eye on weather conditions to make sure that wind speed and other factors won't negatively influence your flight. The best part of these safety precautions is that they're not static. As the FAA and local authorities regulate airspace, the app can be updated to reflect those changes, thus keeping operators up to date with current safety guidelines.
Here's what the app will show when you're near a no-fly zone:
Personally, I'm excited about the Ares Drone not only because it's a cool piece of technology, but because it represents the beginning of what I hope will be a trend with drone manufacturers. The seamless software-hardware integration employed by the Ares guys may signify the beginning of an era in which we not only achieve smoother aerial shots more easily (thanks to intuitive software design), but one in which our skies are significantly safer for it.
If you're interested in learning more about the Ares Drone, head on over to their Kickstarter page.