When drones started becoming more powerful, it was really only a matter of time until the machines started turning “smart.” Apparently, that time has come. Proof of this is in the launch of the 3D Robotics Solo, the world’s first smart drone – or so its maker claims. As of posting, this machine is available for pre-order from 3D Robotics’ website.
The “smart” tag has generated quite an impressive amount of hype. Whether or not the hype is justified is something we cannot judge yet, as there are no 3D Robotics Solo drone reviews to read yet. But to give you an idea why people are raving about it, we’ll do a rundown of its features.
Smart, Powerful Controller
3D Robotics has packed a lot of processing power into the controller of this drone. The Solo’s sleek controller has dual 1GHz computers that make it easier to control and fly the machine. The controller can cater to a wide range of devices, from phones to tablets similar in size to the iPad mini. It also comes with two buttons that the user can define upon use. In one button press, the controller can order the drone to fly, take off, or land automatically.
If these features are as good as they sound, the controller is something 3D Robotics Solo reviews will rave about.
3-Axis Gimbal for GoPros
This $1,000-drone doesn’t ship with a camera. You can, however, order it with a 3-axis gimbal for an extra $400. The gimbal promises stability and precise design for GoPro cameras. 3D Robotics promises that the gimbal is also smart, as it works well with the controller. Certain modes allow the gimbal to autonomously take shots and video clips.
Like most drones, the Solo runs on an app for either Android or iOS. The difference, however, becomes evident when you talk about what you can do with the app. Apart from precise controls, 3D Robotics says apps allow the user to control the camera and adjust the speed, distance, and altitude of the quadcopter. The app receives automatic updates without having to use USB cables. Plus, it can record clips straight to the mobile device.
Where it truly becomes impressive, however, is the multiple shooting modes of the drone. This is something you can adjust with the app. If this feature goes flawlessly, reviewers would see this as one of the strongest suits of the Solo.
Multiple Shooting Modes
3D Robotics has developed Smart Shots, a feature that assists users when setting up and shooting images or video clips. In theory, you only have to adjust a few settings and hit “play” – from there, the drone will shoot autonomously.
The Solo comes with four shooting modes. The first one is the Cable Cam flight mode, which creates an imaginary “cable” mid-air. The quadcopter memorizes the route of this cable and follows it to the end. Users can create new cables that the Solo would follow, as well as instruct the drone to follow the same route back and forth.
The second feature is the Orbit mode. This is perfect for wraparound shots, as this locks the drone’s focus on a particular subject. Once the target has been defined, the UAV would revolve around it in a perfect circle while recording a video.
Selfie mode is also a feature of this drone. In this mode, the user becomes the subject of the drone. The camera would focus on the user from a short distance. After that, the quadcopter would fly back to highlight the surrounding landscape. The Solo returns automatically to its take-off spot afterwards.
The last mode is the follow feature. This is not exactly new for a UAV, but it is still a nifty little trick for hands-free flying. The UAV will track the signal of its controller and follow where the user goes. The Solo captures every move of the user while it is midair.
3D Robotics has called its latest machine “future-proof.” This is all thanks to the different features you can add to the drone. In a sense, the modular design of the quadcopter is akin to the design of most PCs today. As the manufacturer puts it, the Solo “evolves.”
The UAV features a special accessory bay that can handle items other than a gimbal and a camera. The company remains open to different developments that enhance the Solo experience. So far, 3DRobotics has begun developing LED lights, ballistic parachute systems, and optical flow technology as add-ons to the machine.
The Solo runs on two 1 GHz computers. Through its own mobile app, it can download software updates wirelessly. This means the drone can receive all the latest tweaks on its computer, controller, software, and gimbal without having to depend on cables. It has an on-screen feedback to display the progress of each update download. Motor pods are swappable as well.
It gets even better. 3DRobotics has opened the development of add-ons to everyone. The “Made for Solo” incubator program makes the most of the drone’s open core platform. This is to encourage third-party developers to create new accessories and improvements on the Solo. It may seem like a gamble, but 3D Robotics seems confident about it. As what it says on its website, “We’re still not sure where this technology will lead – we just know it will be above and beyond the expected.”
The hype for the Solo continues to intensify – and rightfully so, at least on paper. Our team cannot wait to write a full 3D Robotics Solo drone review out of sheer excitement. Hopefully, 3DR starts shipping this interesting quadcopter soon. After all, if the specs are as good as they sound on paper, this can be the next game changer in the UAV scene.