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AirDog drone automatically follows you and films your sporting feats


June 17, 2014

The AirDog is a new autonomous drone that will follow the user and film them using an onboard GoPro camera

The AirDog is a new autonomous drone that will follow the user and film them using an onboard GoPro camera

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Typical. You wait ages for an autonomous aerial camera drone and then two come along at once. We featured Squadrone System's Hexo+ drone yesterday and today it's the turn of the AirDog from Helico Aerospace Industries. Like the Hexo+, the AirDog will track the user and film them from above.

Both Squadrone System and Helico are based out of Palo Alto, and are both claiming that their respective devices are the world's first of their type. Consumer drones are targeted to a large extent at the action-sports market and this is where these autonomous drones can really excel. Much like with autonomous vehicles, these drones are able to track their route and make smooth adjustments without the possibility of human error.

The AirDog is a quadcopter with rotor-arms that fold away for easy storage when it is not in use. It's said to be fully autonomous, needing no remote control in order to fly. Users can input the basic flight settings using the device's "AirLeash," a dedicated beacon for the AirDog that's worn on the wrist or helmet and is tracked by the drone.

Users can also download the AirDog smartphone app to configure more advanced flight modes, record footage and share video clips online. A manually controlled flight-mode is also available should users prefer.

There are six basic modes from which a user can choose. In the auto-follow mode, the quadcopter will follow the user while maintaining the position and altitude that the user has set. Relative-position mode will ensure that the drone keeps its position in relation to compass direction from the user and follow-track mode allows the user to run through a certain track and have the drone then repeatedly follow it. Additional camera angles and controls can be set in the follow track mode.

The hover and aim mode has the Airdog maintaining its position in one location while tracking the user with its camera, and the circle mode allows the user to set an area and radius around which the drone will circle. Finally, in the the look-down mode, the Airdog can be trained over one particular place with its camera pointing directly down. This can be used over skate-ramps or jumps, for example.

The AirDog weighs 3.9 pounds (1.7 kg), can fly up to to a speed of 40 mph (64 km/h) and has a flight time of 10-15 minutes between charges, depending on how it is being used. It uses a GoPro camera (sold separately) for filming and a 2-axis gyro-stabilized gimbal in order to keep videos stable.

Features for video quality include auto-pitch and yaw camera follow, horizon alignment and vibration isolation. The device has been designed to shut down its motors in the event of collision, and be easily repairable should it ever be damaged. Helico says it's durable and can be used in sub-zero temperatures, wind up to 23 knots, and in rain, sleet and snow.

Helico looks set to comfortably reach its Kickstarter target and individuals can pledge to be one of the first to receive an AirDog, assuming all goes to plan with the campaign and production. The first devices at the early bird price of US$995 have already all been snapped up, but it's still possible to pledge $1,195 in order to receive one.

Have a look at AirDog's Kickstarter pitch video below.

Source: AirDog, Kickstarter

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds. All articles by Stu Robarts

That is all we need, thousands of "dronies" taking over from selfies on F/B. Even better - just wait till coaches or sportscasters try using half a dozen of these over a football field at once to try to track their stars! Should be interesting at least. Some football and cricket grounds in Australia DO have overhead cameras, but they are controlled by stepper motors and lines, like 3D cameras or plotters do to change position - they are not autonomous!

The Skud

Ditto yesterday's comment on yesterday's autonomous camera drone article.

Do they float and do they have an emergency beacon so that they can be found if the come down unexpectedly?

I imagine that there are going to be some very confused raptors (and their young ones) when these devices become commonplace.

Mel Tisdale

It's 95°F and humid as I type. What I really want is a drone that will hover over me and provide downdraft! ... some shade wouldn't hurt, either.


Great Aircraft I have been flying an xaircraft x650 pro with super X and OSD for a while its hasnt got exactly those features but it has been a great quadcopter. i hope xaircraft take note and develop the same app software


Thanks so much for mentioning AirDog!

There are four major AirDog advantages: 1. It is tested and working prototype ready for production. 2. It will be the first commercial product of its kind in the market from November 2014. 3. It has AirLeash – waterproof GPS device tracking your movement with a significantly better signal than smartphones. Additionally you can use it with gloves when you ride, as well as during surfing and kiteboarding. 4. Two years of R&D invested into the creation of a working prototype to get the best possible solution for action sports.

The AirDog has also been tested at 11000ft altitude and works perfectly at these heights, and right now AirDog Team even offer different colour options for your drones, that people can vote for on their Facebook page!

Eliza, Team AirDog

Eliza Ozolina


Please let me contribute to the discussion with my opinion. The Hexo+ has several advantages compared to AirDog that should be taken into consideration compared to previous comment:

It is not only half of the weight but moreover half the price.

It is better suited for following you as it is shaped to go up to 70 km/h which is good when you going fast (ski, snow, motor sports,…)

3.Waterproof phone cases exists and enabling user to be tracked with a single divice that every tech adepts uses nowadays is a plus in my opinion

They are supported by many action sport leaders meaning they are doing something for the community, taking a lot into consideration design and functionality issues to address the best product.

5.Color options are not a real plus for users while Hexoplus offer a live video feedback to guarantee user the frame he wants. Finally, we all know that drones can fall down sometimes. Hexoplus team is working with Sogilis that made software for the Airbus A350, knowing that regulation about aviation are very strict, putting this kind of precision into drones is for sure a huge advantage in terms of safety and performances.

Time for helping us to make to revolutionize aerial filming, thanks!

Augustin Solioz

Hi Augustin, The question I have is, what is the reason for the limited range of 50m? If it is because of the smart device, then maybe a more powerful tranciever can be utilised. Does the Hexo+ have the ability to automatically return if battery is low or fly out of range when in manual mode?

Nick Heidl

The IRIS can already do what the AirDog is trying to do. Plus it is cheaper than what the AirDog will be.

Indiana Dronez
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