Airdog captured athletes’ imaginations with its initial Airdog drone that hit shelves in 2015. It marketed itself as a follow-me drone, able to track athletes whether they were surfing, skiing, biking, or even just walking — as long as they wore the tracking device.
Airdog today announced the drone’s successor, the ADII — yet another autonomous, follow-me drone. This time, it’s taking what the creator’s learned last time and making improvements — and at a lower price tag for consumers.
Most drones today depend on the user holding an RC transmitter and controlling its flights with the stick, but the ADII (and the original Airdog before it) is different. To fly the ADII drone, users wear a waterproof “AirLeash” tracking device that looks like a large watch. It has simple controls that allow the user to select various modes, including a “scenic mode”, which captures me in a selfie mode and then flies backwards, panning out to capture the broader landscape around me.
The ADII drone “follows you” based on a few different modes. There’s something called “adaptive follow mode,” which means that you can set the drone in front of you like a selfie, and if you turn, the drone will pull around to always remain positioned in front of you. There’s a circle mode so the drone will circle around you while following you for a more cinematic shot, and there’s a fixed follow mode which is like the traditional follow-me mode on most drones.
The ADII also comes with a new customizable flight path feature, which allows the drone to fly a pre-programmed flight path while still following you and keeping you framed in the shot. This feature could be used as a guaranteed obstacle avoidance, in situations where the user might traveling past trees or buildings and you want to ensure the drone doesn’t crash into it.
Unlike the drones that need to keep eyes on the person in order to “follow them,” this drone follows the flight path it was assigned, and detects the speed at which to fly based on the AirLeash, allowing the user to bike through trees or skateboard under a bridge and the drone won’t lose sight of the person — and won’t crash either.
Like its predecessor, this drone also folds up so it can tuck into a backpack. The Airdog ADII markets itself as the first auto-flying drone camera technology that lets you go hands-free, meaning that other drone cameras are still manually piloted with “follow-me” added as a feature to assist the pilot with capturing motion shots.
Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to you; this drone won’t be coming with an RC transmitter to allow ultra-precise flight navigating over forests and oceans.
The ADII depends on a GoPro camera, sold separately, meaning it could be a great product for someone who already has a GoPro — but could get costly for someone who would need to buy that too. GoPro’s Hero5 Black, which shoots 4K video and has an LCD so users can view their video on the camera, costs $399.
The ADII launches on Kickstarter July 11 and is expected to deliver to people who pre-order by August. The ADII will start on Kickstarter at $999, and the price will go up after the Kickstarter campaign is complete.