GoPro cameras have been the camera of choice for drone users for several years. But, with an increasing number of drones shipping with proprietary cameras and a deal with DJI that went south, GoPro was slowly losing its footing in the drone market… Until last May when CEO Nick Woodman announced GoPro was officially working on a drone of their own.
This got a lot of people understandably excited, but besides briefly mentioning “Development is on track for the first half of 2016,” at TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco a couple weeks ago, nothing has been said about the what the GoPro drone since the initial announcement.
While we wait to see what the specs, capabilities and features will be, we thought we would make a list of what we want and what we expect from the GoPro drone.
What We Want
Aside from pipedreams like an hour of battery life and an on board sense and avoid system, we want to use this section to mention the features we want the GoPro Drone to have so that it can thrive in the current consumer drone environment.
To that end, the GoPro drone is going to have to include some features that at least compare to or exceed the capabilities of currently available drones.
For example, the downward facing cameras and sensors of the DJI Phantom 3 Professional edition give that drone unparalleled flight stability especially when flying close to the ground or indoors. This kind of precision might not be completely necessary, as most of GoPro’s customers are using their products outdoors and/or in open spaces, but the sensors can also compensate for weaker GPS signals (which are necessary for position hold) found in remote locations.
The other major feature we want the GoPro drone to include is autonomous flight pattern commands similar to those that can be found on the 3D Robotics Solo platform. Solo includes preprogrammed flight patterns like CableCam and Orbit that allow users to tell their drone to fly from point A to point B or fly around a set point so that the user focuses solely on camera movement while the drone flies itself.
This would allow GoPro users to tell their drone to fly around and take pictures of certain areas while the user focuses on whatever action they are doing within that area.
Of course, this feature has some overlap with the first feature we expect from the GoPro drone…
What We Expect
Follow Me is an increasingly popular feature wherein a drone will follow the user as he/she moves around. Some drones have been designed from the ground up to be optimal for follow me flights.
AirDog and Hexo+, both of which got their start on Kickstarter, are the two most well known follow me drones. Both of these drones use GoPro cameras as part of their platform and both projects have professional extreme athletes that speak for them.
Incidentally, the Phantom 3 recently got this capability via a firmware update.
Speaking of the average GoPro user, the GoPro drone is going to need to be compatible with a variety of the company’s camera models including the tiny Hero4 Session. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if the Hero4 Session was the camera the drone ships with or at the very least is the recommended model. Its diminutive size and mere 2.6 ounce weight make it optimal for both mobility when mounted on a gimbal and minimizing the total weight of the drone (which usually extends flight time).
Of course, in today’s climate, companies need to be innovating features consumers don’t even know they want yet in order to stay ahead of the competition.
At last month’s TechCrunch Disrupt, Woodman mentioned his company was working on a cloud-based solution for social sharing. It is probably safe to predict this is the type of product/feature that would roll out and be compatible with the GoPro drone, but we will have to wait until next year to see exactly what will be onboard.
Alan is serial entrepreneur, active angel investor, and a drone enthusiast. He co-founded DRONELIFE.com to address the emerging commercial market for drones and drone technology. Prior to DRONELIFE.com, Alan co-founded Where.com, ThinkingScreen Media, and Nurse.com. Recently, Alan has co-founded Crowditz.com, a leader in Equity Crowdfunding Data, Analytics, and Insights. Alan can be reached at alan(at)dronelife.com