Wherever you look on the Internet there is a continual and, in our estimation, unnecessary undercurrent with regard to the safety aspect where drone and quadcopter rotor blades are concerned. Yes, you can get ‘hurt’ if you try and grab a drone while it’s flying, and there are perhaps more valid concerns over the potential damage to eyes, yet for the fact that there are already millions of drones out there, you will struggle to find more than a couple of extremely unfortunate instances where there has been damage to someone’s sight.
A new Beijing company, Zero Zero Robotics, would seem to have come up with the perfect solution, with a really clever design for a foldable and fully encased drone. However, this is far from a gimmick as the drone comes with a pretty indestructible cage and a 30mp 4k video camera on board as standard. As you will see from the video when folded it is about the size of an old VHS cassette, and does away with a cumbersome console for controlling it, instead it is operated via an app on your smartphone.
This is Zero Zero Robotics entry into the drone market, and we are seriously impressed with it, predominantly through its simplicity. The app doesn’t provide you with a constant stream of in-flight data that is really more appropriate for a light aircraft, instead it offers simple controls making the drone super-easy to fly. This is a drone that is still in its Beta phase – it has yet to be released to the market, though that is proposed for this summer. As a consequence, the video does point out a number of shortcomings in the features that it will offer.
This is a drone which has been designed to follow you, but as was seen, run too quickly and it won’t play catch-up. In our opinion it may also benefit from some extra stability as, after all, what’s the point of putting a high-spec camera on board when there is no gimbal to keep it steady. The way digital photography is moving, there will be no excuse for poor images from any level of entry drone.
You do have to admire the design though. This is clever and clearly the designers behind this drone are great at thinking outside the box. Where most drones that offer ‘protection’ to and from rotor blades simply provide a bumper, whereas these guys have decided to create a smart-looking cage for the whole drone, but a cage that is still sleek and befitting of a flying object. The cage is sturdy too – it needs to be as unlike other drones; the cage is also the landing gear. That may seem a little risky and impractical, but you’re forgetting one thing, this drone is designed for launch and landing on your hand – one in the eye for the DJI Inspire and the likes which demand a clear flat landing pad or else you’ll find yourself needing to replace the propellers.
At only 238 grams it is light, yet the engine and batter are sufficiently powerful to give you a comfortable 8-minutes flying time. Better still, as you will also see from the video, changing the battery is a simple two-second process, doing away with all the fiddling around that is usually required for a battery change.
As we mentioned, this Hover Camera doesn’t come with a control console; you do all the controlling with your fingers, plus two virtual buttons in the mobile app, though you do need to be connected to the drone’s WiFi hotspot. A one-digit drag controls the camera’s pitch and the drone’s yaw, while a two-digit drag controls the altitude and horizontal direction. There are also a coup0le of specific buttons for moving forward and backward. The app provides a live video stream, while also allowing you to take a 720p copy of the 4K videos stored in the drone’s 32GB internal memory, imagery transferred to your PC via a cable. Price is expected to be around the US$500-US$600 mark.
Our thanks go to engaget.com for the story and images.
We genuinely like this drone, as you can probably tell, but we’d be interested to hear what you have to say. Do you think having a flying cage is too ‘un-drone-like’ or do you think this is the way to go?