Unmanned airbourne vehicles (UAVs) have really taken off in recent years. Innovation is seeing these clever critters call the shots by taking pictures at angles hand-operated cameras can only dream of. Traditionally the territory of the military, surveyors and the police, Canadian UAV big-shot Air2Air has launched DraganFlyer X4 for the more mainstream aerial photographer and videographer. This amazing unmanned helicopter has the impressive spec of its wingman, the DraganFlyer X6, but its sights trained on bringing such high-flying technology to the masses.
DraganFlyer X4’s aerial photography system stands up to more conventional camera equipment by capturing video and pictures in high-definition. With 12-megapixel photography resolution, 720P-capable video capture and micro-analogue onboard camera, this UAV can reach the shots you need without compromising on quality. For even more shooting sophistication, DraganFlyer comes with four interchangeable camera attachments including infra-red and low-light video.
DragonFlyer’s viewfinder signal is transmitted wirelessly to an embedded touchscreen display and video receiver in its handheld controller for a peek at its view of the world. But its far-sweeping excellence doesn’t end when you’ve got the shot. Unique ‘DraganEye’ video goggles let you view live output on the fly, while the footage is transmitted simultaneously to a wireless video base station.
The term ‘X4’ refers to DraganFlyer’s computer-stabilised quad rotor design, which gives this sky-soaring beastie supreme flight stability and control. Well, you wouldn’t want to sacrifice your best shots to camera shake at heights your tripod could only dream of scaling. An onboard autopilot provides flight support to hold the heli’s air position if you’re caught out marvelling the views or distracted setting up the next picture.
Operating this miniature airborne platform doesn’t require the touch of a fighter-pilot. It can be manned with minimal training and has strength of character you might not expect from its waspish (680g) and diminutive (77.5cm) frame. It even tracks its own orientation and motion with onboard GPS, three accelerometers, three gyros and barometric pressure sensor to judge the altitude and positioning adjustments it needs to travel in the direction and speed you want. DraganFlyer is capable of vertical take-off and landing so the only angles it makes are the ones you need to get the footage. The onboard camera is capable of remote-controlled zoom, tilt and shutter so you don’t have to jump through hoops to capture some stellar scenes.
The helicopter is manned by high-brightness navigation lights so you can keep track of its position and orientation in all conditions. Should you lose your focus, DraganFlyer’s survival instinct kicks in with automatic landing and onboard flight recorder. Quick-release landing gear and camera equipment make for easy transportation in your backpack once grounded.
As you will expect, the technology doesn’t come cheap. But at £12,000 the price isn’t exactly sky-high, making it an affordable vehicle for high-definition aerial footage. If you prefer to fly before you buy, you can even hire a helicopter for your high-profile projects. www.air2air.com