Drones have been a hot topic recently—and rightfully so. Outside of the dialogue surrounding the legality of buzzing around New York City or National Parks, the new generation of affordable and feature-packed quad-copters are enormously powerful tools for filmmakers. We recently used one on the Bonneville Speedway in Utah to grab some great aerial footage that, 10 years ago, would have been cost prohibitive. Today, Toronto-based DreamQii is announcing the release of their Plexidrone, a unique addition to the marketplace that addresses many of the issues found in other consumer models.
Despite their common toy-like appearances, all the drones we have used are sensitive and fragile devices. Traveling with them is difficult without a specific container—which tends to be a large flight case. This isn’t an issue for most, but if the idea of checking a bag is less than appealing, the Plexidrone solution for keeping the product compact will surely impress. The arms of the drone snap on and off, making it extremely easy to pack into the company’s custom hard backpack or just about any suitcase. This feature also shows DreamQii’s insight into the drone user experience. Having simple, replaceable modular arms makes it easy to keep the drone functional in the event of a crash—if its arm is destroyed, users can pop in a new one.
The two most desirable features of the Plexidrone are its ability to swarm with other Plexidrones and to follow live waypoints. The PlexiHub is a bluetooth-enabled device that essentially acts as a drone router, letting the drones talk to each other, thus giving the user control over multiple drones simultaneously. This is a great tool for capturing multiple aerial angles at the same time. With the Plexidrone app, users can set waypoints for the drone to follow autonomously, but even more interesting is the ability of the drone to trail the user. Simply fire up your smartphone and start moving and the drone will follow you as your phone automatically sends it waypoints.
The remaining features balance what many would expect from a thoughtful prosumer tool with a few fun, offbeat additions. It can utilize multiple types of cameras, has an interchangeable stabilizing gimbal mount and offers the ability to program in your own custom audio for powering up or down and when achieving a GPS lock.
The Plexidrone will begin shipping in the spring of 2015 with pricing ranging from $479-$899, depending on the kit and how early the purchase is made.
Images courtesy of DreamQii