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Sub-$500 Pocket Drone folds for transport and carries a GoPro

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January 14, 2014

The Pocket Drone, prior to being folded up

The Pocket Drone, prior to being folded up

Image Gallery (6 images)

The original DJI Phantom quadcopter is now priced below US$500, and it's designed to carry a GoPro camera. However, while the copter could conceivably be stuffed into a backpack, doing so might be a little ... awkward. That's why the guys at San Diego-based AirDroids created the Pocket Drone. It squeaks in under the $500 mark and is made to carry a GoPro, but it also folds down for easy transport. What's more, its battery runtime is about twice that of the Phantom.

Two of the Pocket Drone's three prop arms swing in to either side of the third arm, which itself telescopes down. The landing struts also retract, and even the propeller blades fold back to one side. That prop design is additionally claimed to make the drone safer, as the propellers will swing back should they hit an obstacle (such as a person), instead of cutting into it.

When everything is folded down and otherwise withdrawn, the aircraft has a smaller footprint than that of a 7-inch tablet, and is less than three inches (7.6 cm) thick.

The Pocket Drone comes with a carrying case

One charge of the lithium-polymer battery should be good for about 20 minutes of flight time, with a GoPro attached. That relatively long runtime is due largely to the fact that the Pocket Drone is a tricopter as opposed to a quadcopter – this means that it's lighter, and has one less motor to power. It's also claimed to be considerably quieter than a quadcopter, and more maneuverable.

Along with real-time remote control (via an included controller or an app on a mobile device), the drone can also fly on its own using plotted GPS waypoints, or it can automatically follow a GPS-enabled mobile device. Additionally, its flight control software is open-source, in case users have any bright ideas for functions that they'd like to add.

AirDroids is currently raising production funds for its drone on Kickstarter, and has already more than quintupled its financial goal. A pledge of $495 will get you a Pocket Drone of your own, when and if they're ready to take to the skies.

You can see some of them in action, along with footage shot from them, in the pitch video below.

Sources: AirDroids, Kickstarter

About the Author
Ben Coxworth An experienced freelance writer, videographer and television producer, Ben's interest in all forms of innovation is particularly fanatical when it comes to human-powered transportation, film-making gear, environmentally-friendly technologies and anything that's designed to go underwater. He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, where he spends a lot of time going over the handlebars of his mountain bike, hanging out in off-leash parks, and wishing the Pacific Ocean wasn't so far away.   All articles by Ben Coxworth
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9 Comments

Sounds very useful in places like hiking or wherever weight and storage room is at a premium.

I wonder what would be heavier - a GoPro or a mobile phone filming while linked to the flyer's one on the ground?

The Skud
14th January, 2014 @ 04:55 pm PST

Agree Skud would be fun with remote viewing.

George McGregor Wilson
14th January, 2014 @ 05:51 pm PST

With all this proliferation of camera equipped drones, making love out in the great outdoors will soon be a thing of the past, except for exhibitionists, of course. Ah! Happy days, happy days.

Mel Tisdale
15th January, 2014 @ 01:51 am PST

To the two previous comments.

You can have remote viewing with the Gopro, But you must remember that the GoPro hardware is much more sophisticated than the mobile phone camera, The quality of image is far higher than the mobile phone. GoPros are used in TV broadcasting. A GoPro without the waterproof case is about 95grams. I'm sure there is one but I don't know of any mobile phones that shoot HD at 1080p.

Richard Unger
15th January, 2014 @ 06:31 am PST

I'm waiting for the GoPro housing that has built-in hooks for quad-copter arms and a snap-in part for the electronics...kinda like a flying camera...instead of a Quad-copter with a camera.

Ed
15th January, 2014 @ 10:31 am PST

Great skeet shooting target for the crazy sheriff in Colorado

rik.warren
15th January, 2014 @ 11:24 am PST

Wicked cool. This lies more in line with a comment I made earler on a quadcopter for at use in apprehending hold up artist. If a gas station or small convenience store would not pay $500 for the safety of their employees or the public in general, they should be denied a license. Being able to provide law enforcement in time video of faces, cars & tag's during a robbery at progress would be a real heartbreaker for these murdering crackheads. They'd have to get a job.

noteugene
15th January, 2014 @ 07:30 pm PST

I'm a little surprised that a good tricopter didn't come out sooner. I'm sure that the much more efficient larger diameter propellers have a lot to due with the heavier lift and longer battery life. The 20 minute battery sounds great but a lighter camera along with shaving a little weight could add even a few more minutes. They have definitely raised the bar with this impressive design.

Bob
16th January, 2014 @ 08:35 am PST

The Samsung Galaxy 3 i use films at HD1080 and is very good. However it does not shoot at 60+ FPS as the GoPro does.

This unit won't be available till June at the earliest and there are lots of questions to be answered still. But if it is as it appears, I want one now.

Tacky-on
16th January, 2014 @ 07:41 pm PST
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