In a new video released this week by DJI, the prolific drone and camera manufacturer showed off a concept for a new UAV called the Phantom X.
Strangely enough, some of the technology showed off in the Phantom X concept already exists (or is on the verge of existing) in the consumer space. I'm talking, of course, about the Lily drone, which made a splash earlier this year, as it's promo video went viral. Like the fictional Phantom X in the DJI video, the Lily can be activated simply by tossing it (her?) in the air, and then you can have it follow you around and capture your every move without having to touch a flight remote or anything.
Here again is that awesome promo video:
And here's how the Lily Drone was actually working while that video was going viral. Sadly, it doesn't appear to be quite as effective as the promo made it look. Then again, this is from six months ago, and the Lily isn't set to start shipping for a few more months, so hopefully these issues will have been straightened out in that span. Still, it's funny to watch Lily almost shave the beard off the reviewer's face and almost go careening into a group of sunbathers in Central Park.
The biggest thing that the Phantom X could bring to the table is obstacle avoidance, a feature which Lily does not have. If we're going to use GPS and allow drones to follow us around, we need to make damn sure that they're not going to run into anything. It's a massive safety issue, and it really should be a prerequisite with technology like this.
The Phantom X concept video also showed off some other interesting potential features, including a multi-cam mode, which would allow users to tether the video streams from multiple drones together, and then switch between them live. This could be useful in live event and sports broadcast (provided the drones aren't flying over crowds or athletes), although I'm not entirely sure why it would be useful in a traditional filmmaking context considering that multi-cam is usually accomplished in post.
And then there's the whole sky painting thing. Not sure what to say about that. Like, do you load up the drone with sky paint before sending it off to paint in the sky using your magical sky-painting gloves? The mind boggles.
What features and technologies would you guys be interested in seeing in next generation of Phantom drones? Let us know down in the comments!