The Auto-Follow Upstarts: AirDog
In the early days of consumer drones — meaning two or three years ago — the act of flying what amounted to a sophisticated model airplane was at least as appealing as the prospect of capturing aerial photos and footage. There are still plenty of models for remote flight enthusiasts, but the biggest trend in drones is auto-follow. These personal airborne papparazzi follow their owners around, filming their every move.
The best demonstration of this feature took place outside of CES 2015, where a mid-sized quadcopter called AirDog hovered over skateboarders. AirDog follows (and frames) its subject by tracking his or her "leash," a wrist-mounted device that also functions as a controller. AirDog's master can command it to take off, maintain a specific altitude, or touch down by pressing a few buttons. The drone hovers and pursue the leash wear for 22 minutes per swappable battery, and at speeds of up to 40 mph. According to Helico Aerospace Industries COO Agris Kipurs, he first AirDog prototypes will ship to a group of 10 beta testers relatively soon. After a month of tests, the startup will modify the design as needed, and release it for $1300 by the middle of 2016.