This is an excerpt of an article written by Drone Girl for MarketWatch.com. Read the entire story here.
When a two-pound toy drone crashed on the White House grounds in early 2015, the nation went into a frenzy over legal and safety issues surrounding drones.
President Barack Obama called for greater regulation of drones, CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer brought up the specter of al Qaeda-manned drones, and the drone-maker itself installed a firmware update that prevents its drones from flying near the White House.
But one company’s potential technological solution seems completely contradictory to the purpose of drones: Putting them on a leash.
Zurich-based robotics company Perspectives Robotics AG plans to announce Tuesday the Fotokite Phi, a $349, consumer-grade “tethered flying camera.”
The drone flies itself on the end of a tether, controlled by simple gestures of the controller.
Perspectives Robotics is known for creating Fotokite Pro, a $10,000 drone that uses a tether to provide an unlimited power supply from the ground. Its users include journalists from the BBC. Now the company is targeting hobbyists looking for a small, portable drone to bring on hikes or to picnics.
“With the broadcast version, you’re looking at high-quality video,” founder Sergei Lupashin said. “With this, you’re looking at affordability and making them accessible.”
The Fotokite Phi is the only consumer drone on the market that doesn’t rely on remote piloting or GPS. Instead, the user points the leash in the direction they want to go and the drone follows.
“It’s a cross between an airborne pet and a steadicam in the sky,” Lupashin said.
At 12 ounces, it’s the lightest GoPro-carrying quadcopter on the market, and it folds into a compact carrying case about the size of a two-liter soda bottle. The leash extends 26 feet, which is about two and a half stories high.
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